Are your headlights dim? Hear clicking or growling noises? Are there warning lights on your dashboard?

You might have an issue with your starter or charging system. Let the West End Auto staff review the voltage level of your battery, test your alternator, and look over your starter. The various components that make up your starting and charging system are not impervious to failure from constant use and wear.

An inefficient starting and charging system can lead to engine failure, which makes routine maintenance extremely important. Some components—like the battery—may give little warning before they fail.

What generates most of the electricity in your vehicle is not the battery, but the alternator. The alternator transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy. It sends power to essential parts of your vehicle like the headlights, the engine fan, ignition coil and various parts of the fuel injection system. It powers non-essential, but still very important parts like the radio and air conditioning system.

It’s important to have your alternator checked regularly as it is not always apparent when it fails. It can fail in stages and even when it goes completely, your battery will take over for a short period of time.

The starter does the opposite of the alternator. It changes electrical energy into mechanical energy. The starter uses the electricity from the battery to start the crankshaft turn and that gets your car going.

Starting / Charging System Basics

The starting and charging system is responsible for getting an engine to run and for keeping different components charged.

The starting system involves a number of parts, including the ignition switch, starter, and flywheel. Using energy from the battery, the starter uses a gear to interact with the engine. Without a starter, an engine would be inoperable.

The charging system, which includes the battery, alternator, and voltage regulator, play an equally important role. The battery is needed to send electricity to the starter. The alternator powers all the electrical components by generating electrical currents, and the voltage regulator ensures that the output of the alternator does not over-or under-charge the components dependent on the electrical current.

Together, the starting and charging systems interact with one another to keep a vehicle operating for its driver.