December 14, 2007, Newsletter Issue #93: Parts of An Alternator and How They Work

Tip of the Week

It's good to know what makes up an alternator, that way you can be prepared for the automotive language used by your parts professional.

The housing of the alternator is usually made of aluminum. The housing is made with bolt holes, so the alternator can be attached to the vehicle. The internal parts are made up of a iron core called the strator. This core is surrounded by thousands of copper wires that are electrified by a rotor spinning inside these copper wires. This creates a magnetic field and AC current. Since vehicles need a DC current, there needs to be a part that converts AC to DC.  That part is called a diode pack and it allows the current to flow in one direction. From there, the current is sent to a voltage regulator, which regulates how much voltage is sent to the battery. This is where the power comes from to keep our battery charged. 

Remember, the voltage regulator can fail and getting too much voltage to your battery will cause the battery to fail, too. The proper amount of voltage for a battery is about 13.5 volts to 14.5 volts, exceeding this voltage or decreasing this amount of voltage will cause alternator failure and the battery will fail.

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