What Does an Alternator Do?

If you’ve ever wondered, “What does an alternator do?”, you’re not alone. Most North Charleston drivers will ask this question at some point, and as per usual, the expert service team at Rick Hendrick Chevrolet is here to provide more information! When your car is running, the alternator is what powers the electrical system. It’s a common misconception that the battery is what powers the car, but in reality, it is only used to start the car. Some car owners find that it’s useful to think of the alternator as a generator that uses the gas engine as an energy source. For more information on alternators, consult our guide below!

Signs Your Alternator Needs Attention

Concerned your car’s alternator may be nearing the end of its life? Here are some common signs that indicate a need for service; if you experience one or more, the service center at Rick Hendrick Chevrolet is just a short drive away from Mount Pleasant:

  • The battery warning light illuminates on your dashboard
  • Your headlights or interior lights are dimmer than usual
  • A burning rubber smell is emanating from under the hood
  • In-vehicle USB charging ports will not charge your devices
  • There’s a whining or screeching sound after you start your car
  • Your car is unable to start

Difference Between a Failing Alternator vs. Failing Battery

It’s not uncommon for James Island drivers to mistake a failing alternator for a failing car battery. If your car is unable to start at all, this is a good opportunity to determine whether it’s the alternator or the battery at fault. Carry out a jump-start, being sure to remove the jumper cables after you get the car to start. If it proceeds to die again right away, the problem is probably the alternator. Prefer to have a certified technician confirm the source of the issue? Scheduling an appointment with Rick Hendrick Chevrolet is as simple as filling out our online form in just a few clicks.

What is the Average Lifespan of an Alternator?

A car’s alternator should last between 80,000 and 150,000 miles or around seven years. As with most mechanical components, however, certain factors may cause your alternator to die prematurely:

  • Alternator quality
  • Frequent exposure to poor driving conditions
  • Power drain on the alternator

How Much is an Alternator Likely to Cost?

Different cars require different alternators, making it difficult to pinpoint an exact answer to “How much is an alternator?” Here at Rick Hendrick Chevrolet, we offer a rotating selection of parts specials that we encourage drivers to consult before scheduling service with us. If you would like to get a quote for how much a new alternator for your specific car will cost, we invite you to call us at (843) 405-2995 to speak directly with a specialist.

Turn to Rick Hendrick Chevrolet for Alternator Service and More!

For all things automotive, the team at Rick Hendrick Chevrolet is here to help. Our parts department can assist you in finding the right type of alternator for your vehicle and can answer any lingering questions you may have that stem from “What is an alternator?” Contact us to start a conversation today, and be sure to consult our service tips hub for additional advice from our experts, including what antifreeze is.

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Hendrick Vehicle Disclaimer:
$699.00 Closing Fee is not included in advertised price.

All prices exclude all taxes, tag, title, registration fees and government fees. Out of state buyers are responsible for all taxes and government fees and title/registration fees in the state where the vehicle will be registered. All prices include all manufacturer to dealer incentives, which the dealer retains unless otherwise specifically provided. Dealer not responsible for errors and omissions; all offers subject to change without notice; please confirm listings with dealer.

All vehicles may not be physically located at this dealership but may be available for delivery through this location. Transportation charges may apply. Please contact the dealership for more specific information. All vehicles are subject to prior sale.


Additional Disclaimers:

*0.9% APR for 36 months. Monthly payment is $28.16 for every $1,000 you finance. Example down payment: 15.2%. Must finance with GM Financial. Some customers may not qualify. Not available with lease and some other offers. Take new retail delivery by 4/30/24. **Must trade in a 2010 model year or newer vehicle. Not available with special financing, lease and some other offers. Take new retail delivery by 4/30/24.

*Finance charges accrue from date of financing. Deferred monthly payments for 90 days. 1.9% APR for 36 months. Monthly payment is $28.60 or every $1,000 you finance. Example down payment: 17.2%. Must finance with GM Financial. Down payment required at signing, if applicable. Not available in PA. Some customers may not qualify. Not available with lease and some other offers. Take new retail delivery by 4/30/24. **Must be a current owner of a 2010 model year or newer Chevrolet vehicle for at least 30 days prior to the new vehicle sale. Not available with special financing, lease and some other offers. Take new retail delivery by 4/30/24.


Rick Hendrick Chevrolet 32.7856, -80.0086.