When I bought my first car, I encountered several setbacks. The worse was my vehicle failing to start when I was rushing for an appointment. But I used to overlook the systems that run the engine and other electrical components.
Can the alternator drain the battery? In short, Yes. A malfunctioning alternator diode can create a parasitic drain in the car battery. The bad diode keeps the charging circuit on even when the engine isn’t running. It later allows the car battery to go dead after an extended period.
A functional alternator diode allows the current to flow in one direction. It keeps the charging circuit off when the engine is not running. It helps to reduce the chances of draining the battery from nowhere.
Keep reading this article to learn how an alternator drains battery and identify symptoms of a failing alternator without seeking assistance from a professional mechanic. You’ll also learn how to fix a car with a bad alternator diode.
How the Alternator Drain the Car Battery
The car ignition system depends on the battery and alternator to work. The battery helps to start the engine and power the electrical systems while driving. An alternator replaces the used energy to the battery by supplying a continuous charge. The car battery fails to recharge when the alternator becomes faulty.
The issue will bring your ride to a halt due to a dead battery. The best option is to replace the damaged alternator with a new one to avoid the problem. Below are ways how an alternator drains a car battery:
Inadequate Alternator Voltage
An alternator that produces insufficient power to replace the used energy can allow the car battery to run down. It also drains the remaining charge in the battery when sitting and renders it dead in the long run.
Bad Alternator Diode
A faulty alternator diode creates a parasitic drain on the car battery. It keeps the charging circuit open when the engine is not running. The malfunctioning makes the battery go dead overnight and hinders engine ignition.
Improper wiring between the alternator and battery may inhibit the charging process. The fault prevents the alternator from providing adequate voltage. Instead, it creates are loophole for draining the available charge in the battery.
What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Alternator?
It is super easy to tell if your alternator is draining your battery. Take the time to go through the following signs of a failing alternator:
Dim or Overly Bright Headlights
A faulty alternator provides inconsistent power to the electrical components. You will notice the headlights are either too dim or bright as you drive.
Dead Car Battery
A malfunctioning alternator won’t charge the battery even when the engine is running. It instead causes the existing charge to deplete faster than usual. If the battery dies immediately after jumpstarting, it means the alternator does not provide sufficient power.
Failure of Other Electrical Accessories
If the alternator is not supplying sufficient power, other electrical components in the car will experience slow performance. The windows will take a long to roll up or down, and seat warmers begin to feel off.
Frequent Stalling or Trouble Starting the Engine
A dead battery makes it challenging to start the engine. You will hear the clicking sound when trying to turn on the engine. Besides that, the car experiences frequent stalling when driving.
A failing alternator forces your ride to make a tone of strange noises. But most of these odd sounds are harmless though others might be an indicator of mechanical problems. If you hear the car growling or whining under the hood, it implies a failing alternator.
Battery Warning Lights on the Dashboard
When the battery light pops up on the dashboard, it signifies a faulty electrical system in the car. The system comprises of malfunctioning alternator. The light appears when the alternator voltage exceeds the limit.
Burning Wires or Rubber Smell
Burning wire or rubber odor implies that the alternator is starting to wear. The drive belt of an alternator is under constant friction and tension. The wear makes the drive belt emit an unpleasant burning rubber odor.
How Long Does It Take a Bad Alternator to Drain a Battery?
Approximately 30 minutes. But there are some instances it might take up to two hours depending on the degree of damage. Do not turn off the engine when driving with bad alternators. Starting the engine will flatten the battery completely.
How Do You Know If Your Alternator Is Draining Your Battery?
Keep an eye on the bad alternator symptoms. Some of these signs are dim interior lights, growling sounds, the smell of burning rubber, and dim or overly bright headlights.
Can a Faulty Alternator Drain a New Battery?
Yes. A bad alternator forces the battery to drain due to the failure of recharging it. The problem is more prevalent in old batteries but can also occur on new ones.
A malfunctioning alternator diode can cause battery power drain. The parasitic drain will suck all the power juice from the battery within a few minutes or hours. But this will depend on the amount of current being drawn from the battery. An alternator cannot drain the battery when the engine is off.
But other electrical faults in the car can drain your battery. It happens since the alternator cannot recharge the battery when the engine is not working. Use the symptoms mentioned above to tell if your alternator is draining the battery. Consider seeking mechanical assistance from a professional to fix the problem. If you have the necessary tools, undertake a car battery drain test.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.