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Ticking in the Alternator

by Jay Motes

An alternator is responsible for supplying an automobile with electrical power and charging the battery. A ticking sound is often an indication that the alternator is about to fail.

Locating Sound

With an engine running, it can be difficult to determine the source of a ticking sound. However, a short length of tubing can be used to help locate the sound. By listening to one end of the tube while the other is placed near a possible source of the clicking, a person can determine the exact location of the noise. The component making the click will sound louder than the others.

Worn Alternator

An alternator may make a clicking sound if the bearings or other internal components are beginning to wear. Once the alternator has been identified as the source of the sound, remove the drive belt and turn the pulley by hand. If the pulley does not turn smoothly, the alternator is worn.

Alternator Testing

To determine how poorly the alternator is performing, the alternator's electrical output should be tested. This can be done with a voltmeter, but most auto parts stores will test the alternator for free. Parts stores can test the alternator either on or off of the car.

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