Alternator Voltage Regulator

Most vehicles these days require an alternator to keep the car battery charged at all times. Without an alternator our car battery would drain while trying to start our vehicle along with powering all the other components that require the battery’s juice to work. The battery is not only used to get the car started but it also runs our window wipers, car radio, lights and anything else that is run off of power in the car. If we did not have an alternator our car battery would be drained in a very short amount of time.

Although the alternator is wonderful for keeping our battery charged it is also capable of over charging our battery. This is why an alternator voltage regulator is required to maintain the proper level of charge at all times. Our car battery is typically a 12V battery and the alternator is capable of producing up between 13 and 15 Volts of energy. When the battery charge gets low the alternator steps in and bumps the voltage of the battery back up to 12 Volts and often times will charge a little more than that. An alternator voltage regulator will then cut off the amount of charge the alternator can send to the battery so that it can not exceed the proper amount of charge. If a battery gets overcharged it will not work just like it does not work when completely drained.

Alternator voltage regulators used to be separate components that were mounted under the hood of the car then wired into the alternator, however in the last decade or so most alternator voltage regulators have been shrunk down into a small chip that is located inside the alternator itself. This is good and bad for car owners. The pro to this new alternator voltage regulator method, called an internal regulator, is that it takes up a lot less space under the hood than the older versions. The bad news is that when the voltage regulator goes out or becomes faulty the best way to replace it is to replace the entire alternator. For someone who has an older model car you can still replace the alternator voltage regulator, referred to as an external regulator, separately as long as you can find the right part.

If you have an alternator with an internal voltage regulator that stops working then your best bet is to replace the alternator altogether unless you have an alternator model that allows you easy access to the internal parts. If this is the case you will have to find someone that may have an internal voltage regulator that would fit your model. You may get lucky and find this car part through someone who works on rebuilding alternators however the price of the part and the labor it will take to replace it usually out weighs the cost of purchasing and installing a new alternator.

Without a properly functioning alternator your battery will die and you will not be able to drive your vehicle. The alternator voltage regulator is a very important part to the alternator system so unfortunately when it dies you have no choice but to replace it. There is nothing you can really do to prevent the alternator from going bad it just happens over time and is one of those car parts that need replaced after a while. Fortunately replacing the voltage regulator or the alternator itself is fairly inexpensive and once it is replaced you should get plenty of miles out of your vehicle before ever needing to replace it again.

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