Check with your local auto parts store. Most can check the voltage on the car.
You can also start the motor, while it's running remove neg battery terminal if motor stays runnung your alternator is good.
This technique is best done at night/in the dark. Turn headlights on whilst engine is running. If idle is set correctly, when you press gas pedal you should notice the headlights/dash lights become brighter. If they become brighter your alternator is working.
Another check you can do at night is to observe the headlights with the engine running, then shut off the engine. The headlights should get slightly dimmer. If not then the alternator ( and connections) should be checked further
While the engine is running you can take the positive off of the battery terminal. If the car stalls, it's a good bet your alternator is shot.re-distribution of electrons is toughMost of these answers don't distinguish between a bad alternator and a bad voltage regulator, the symptoms are often the same. Voltage regulators are cheap and usually easy to replace, depending upon how deep the alternator is buried. Then again a voltmeter only costs a few bucks from harbor freight or radio shack.
Like the drunk searching for his keys under the light pole, (the light is better here) diagnosing electrical problems is best done with the easiest/cheapest jobs done first: Checking voltage drop through connectors and harnesses, Cleaning terminals (especially those on the alternator and main fuse panel), Replacing the voltage regulator, Having the battery and alternator inspected (usually free) by an auto parts chain store, etc..
Your alternator might also be ok but but marginally underpowered for the equipment in the car. This'll happen a lot to cars that are loaded down with aftermarket audio and lighting gear. I'm looking at a weird case like this right now, whenever the AC is on, and I'm just puttering around town, the battery starts sagging down under 12 volts. Since I've little aftermarket stuff in the car, I suspect that either the AC clutch or the aux fan is pulling way more current than it should.
My choices seem to be to put a bigger alternator in, or to hook up amp meters to the suspect components to see if they're pulling more than their rated power.
First buy a multimetre from a an auto store or hardware store, $15-25.
Start the car. As the user above pointed out, pull a battery cable if it continue running, you at least have running alternator. However, the alternator could be not charging enough, or over charging.
Set you multimetre to show voltage flow with at least the accuracy of one decimal place. Place the probes on the correct battery poles, red probe on the positive post and the black on the negative post.
If the multimeter reads below ~13.5 volts, it is not charging your battery, or charging it so slowly it would have to run for quite some time to fully charge; may need to replace the alternator.
A reading of ~13.5 to ~14.5 is somewhere in the norm.
And a reading above ~14.5 is probably a little high and you alternator is overcharging the battery; most likely a cheap-to-replace voltage regulator is the culprit. However, having being overcharged for an extensive amount of time may have damaged the battery.
Finally if you are still not sure, go to a trusted auto store and have them test your alternator; if you don't have a trusted auto store, don't be afraid to get a second opinion.
Alternator is rated at 110 amps. The alternator should provide the voltage required to run the engine. It should handle the system current load. Check the alternator if there is a charge voltage. Turn the engine off and measure the voltage across the two battery terminals with a DC volt meter. Start the engine and measure the voltage across the battery terminals. Look for an increase in voltage on the volt meter. Typically it can go as high as 14.7 volts. If the voltage stays the same as when measuring the across the terminals with the engine off, the alternator is probably bad. If the voltage is charging but not much higher than when the engine is in the off position, some diodes could have burned out in the alternator. Also check the charging wires and ground wires coming from the battery.
Check the battery with a vom meter while the engine is running. It should read about 14.5 volts and if so the alternator is working, than have the battery checked Now if the meter does not read 14.5 volts, have the battery, and the alternator checked. If they both check out okay, the problem is in the battery or the alternator circuit on the vehicle.
Get yourself a mulitmeter, start the car then attach the meter to the battery.If the alternator is working then the meter should say that there is 13.2 to 14.8 Volts. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you remove a battery cable while the engine is running. This could cause you to DESTROY THE COMPUTOR due to a voltage spike!
Find a volt meter, check the battery voltage with the engine stopped, it should be a around 12 V. Now start the engine and the voltage should be around 13.5 V. If the alternator isn't putting out about 13.5 (+/- .5 V) the replacment alternator could be bad or you might have a bad connection somewhere.
Start the engine, put a volt meter across the battery terminal and have a helper bring the engine RPM up to about what it would be at 30 mph. The meter should show about 13.5 to 14 Volts DC. If it won't go that high, its an alternator or regulator problem. If it does, great, now move on to the next step. Turn on EVERYTHING, lights, blower motor, rear window defroster and watch the volt meter. It shouldn't drop significantly and if it DOES drop slightly, a few extra RPM should bring it right back up. If the alternator has a serious problem keeping the voltage up to that level, you should have the alternator tested by a qualified shop.
The alternator is here to give power to / recharge the battery while the engine is running. the alternator, when wired correctly isn't charging with the engine running, then you can tell it is not working anymore. how to know : ideally you'll need a volt meter to controle voltage on the battery +/- plug while engine is doing ~1200rev. bit more elaborated : follow the + cable from the battery to the alternator connection, then with the engine running mesure voltage between the alternator connection and any negative ( - ) spot that you are 100% sure of (i.e. the head of a bolt screw onto the car) a good alternator will give you a reading around 14 for a 12V system (most popular) What happen when the alternator is not working properly : Your battery keeps on diying.
Possibly a bad connection between the alternator and battrie. use a volt meter. put one lead on the possitive post of the battrie and one lead on the alternator b+ terminal. run the engine, put the fan on and lights on. the meter should not read above .02v roughly. if it does theres a problem with the cable or connections. do the same on the ground circuit. or use jupper cables between the alternator and battrie.
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