What Every Driver Should Know About Over-Charging Alternators

Your car's alternator serves as the power generator to keep the battery charged and provide enough voltage for your car's accessories and other electrical components to run. As a result, the alternator placed in your vehicle is precisely tuned to match the demand of your car's electrical system. If the alternator is over-charging the system, it will push excess voltage to the battery. This can cause swelling and intense heat inside the battery, which may cause electrolyte loss due to boiling. Here are some common causes of over-charging to watch for so you can address them right away to protect your battery.

Improper Jump Start

If you don't follow the precise steps to jump start your car correctly, the jump-starting process may lead to a power surge through the battery. This surge can destroy cells in the battery or short out the battery entirely. A power surge in the battery can even disrupt the electrical wiring that runs to the alternator. The damaged wiring can interfere with the charging regulators, causing the alternator to over-charge the system.

Incorrect Alternator

If you have to replace your alternator, it's important that you choose the proper alternator for your car. Installing the wrong one can lead to improper charging. An alternator that's designed to produce more power than your car will need is going to lead to over-charging. If you opt for a high performance or racing alternator for your passenger car, you're going to risk over-charging the system.

Failing Regulators

Every alternator has a regulator that controls the amount of power produced by the system. When the regulator isn't functioning properly, it won't limit the power production from the alternator. Without that regulator and the control of the power flow, the alternator will over-charge the battery and the car's electrical system. There are a few different types of regulators that your car might have, and you may need a mechanic to test them.

Mounted on either the fire wall or the fender well, an external regulator provides electrical current to the coil that's inside the alternator. This regulates the amount of electricity needed for the alternator to function at different engine speeds. These regulators usually have several electromagnetic switches that open and close as the alternator operates. When the contact switch is stuck, it won't disengage. This causes the alternator to continue charging the system when it isn't needed.

An internal regulator has the same electromagnetic contact switches that an external regulator has, but these regulators are mounted inside the alternator, not on the fire wall. Internal regulators are a modern replacement for the external units, because they are more compact.

If you're seeing power surges or electrical issues in your car and your battery case feels warm to the touch, that's a sign that it might be overcharging. Schedule an appointment with your mechanic to have the alternator and regulators tested. Contact a company like AERS Auto Electric & Refrigeration Ltd for more information.

About Me

Keeping Your Car Pristine

A little fender-bender might not seem like that big of a deal, but frame damage can go a long way. When I got into a little accident last summer, I wrote it off and figured that it wasn't a big deal. Unfortunately, I waited until I had already burned through a few sets of tires to have my car looked at by a professional. The goal of my blog is to help other car owners understand the importance of having their car repaired right away, instead of procrastinating. You never know what kind of underlying damage your car has, but a professional can spot damage and repair it correctly.


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