Before, you could start up a car's engine and it will continue to run even if you pull out its battery. But nowadays, your Ford Mustang needs its battery and an alternator to start its engine and keep running. The battery stores electrical energy that can help start up the engine. Meanwhile, the alternator generates the electricity that recharges the battery while your car is running. These interconnected relationships between your Ford Mustang alternator, battery, and engine can lead to some confusion when something goes wrong. So, you'll need to know which of these parts are actually causing the problem signs that you're experiencing in order to fix it. To help you gain a bit of clarity, here are some ways in which you can diagnose the symptoms of a bad alternator:
A lot of car owners will know when something goes wrong with their vehicles, thanks to the tiny icons that light up on their dashboards. If you turn your key in the ignition, you'll either see the battery icon or the alternator icon turn on. It's your car's way of alerting you to an issue with these parts.
If your dashboard doesn't light up or if you want to determine the source of your Mustang's problems on your own, you can still do so manually. Just insert your key in the ignition and try to start your engine. If you hear a clicking sound as you turn the key, then your battery is going bad. However, if you don't hear the click and your engine doesn't start, then you should try turning on the headlights. If your headlights come on but your engine remains still, then you've got a problem with the alternator and not the battery.
Successfully determining that you've got a problem with the alternator is only the first step in the diagnostic process. Next, you'll need to find out what's actually wrong with your alternator in order to fix it. You can do so by carefully inspecting its components for damage and taking note of which need replacement. With a cold engine, you can start by examining the alternator belt for any cracks or glazing. Then, you can listen for any problems with the alternator's rotor with a heater hose. Just put one end of the tubing near your ear and listen for any grinding noises that indicate that the rotor has failed. Finally, you can determine if you need to replace the entire alternator itself by testing your battery's connections with a voltmeter while the engine is idling. If you get a reading of 13 volts or less, then it's clear that your alternator has malfunctioned.