It’s a common misconception, even among seasoned car owners, that the electricity powering an entire vehicle comes from its battery. While it does produce the electricity needed to start the car, it’s actually the alternator that powers everything electrical in your car, from the head- and taillights to the radio and the AC. This is something a mechanic in a trusted Volkswagen dealership in Albuquerque, NM would be able to tell you, along with the fact that issues with the alternator could spell trouble.
Damage from water, in particular, can render the entire vehicle unusable, even irreparable, but not if you know how to keep it from happening.
What is an alternator and how does it work?
To know what you’re up against, one question needs to be asked: exactly how does an alternator work? For all vehicles with a standard internal combustion engine, the alternator serves as the power bank that keeps the batteries up and running for years. It uses a spinning pulley to produce mechanical energy, and it basically makes sure that every electric component in your vehicle is juiced up and ready to go.
How can water damage the alternator?
Since the alternator is generally mounted in front of the engine, splashes and the occasional rain should be the least of your worries. Keep in mind that, in essence, the alternator is already built to be water-resistant, and should be able to protect itself from a couple of puddles every now and then.
It’s floods and still water, however, that you need to worry about. With the engine submerged, the alternator is now soaked, causing its lubrication to wear out. Other parts of the alternator will start deteriorating, too. Soon, electrical connections may come loose, consequently reducing the power generated by the alternator.
How do you know there’s water damage in your car’s alternator?
The general rule is to never let your engine be submerged in water for a long period of time, which is easier said than done sometimes. Don’t worry because your car will let you know if the alternator needs fixing. Telltale signs include the battery light on your dashboard and the headlights turning dim or going out while your car is idle.
Of course, the most telling sign of a bad alternator is having your car break down in the middle of the road, but that’s the result of not having it fixed early on. If you do fear that your car’s alternator may have been damaged by water, you can always dry it out with a petroleum distillate or an alcohol-based precision cleaner and leave it for 24 hours. Remember to keep the engine hood open, as it can help dry the alternator faster.
If you’re not much of a mechanic yourself, you can choose the safer and better alternative of leaving it in the hands of experts, like your trusted Volkswagen dealer in Albuquerque, NM. If you don’t have one yet, check out your Fiesta Volkswagen dealer in Albuquerque, NM.
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