An alternator is one of the most important parts of a car without which the car will be able to function. Since the alternator is an electrical generator that powers all the electrical components in a car, it, therefore, charges the car battery by converting mechanical energy to electrical energy.
The bearings are also important to the alternator because they make it possible for it to convert energy. What if the bearing goes bad? How long can you drive with a bad alternator bearing?
You can drive with a bad alternator bearing for as long as the battery is still charged and has the power to supply the engine. However, driving with a bad alternator bearing is not advisable because it could cost you getting a new battery.
What is the Alternator Bearing?
An alternator bearing is an essential part of an alternator because the bearings make it possible for the rotor to rotate to create power.
The alternator bearings allow the alternator to be able to generate the amount of electricity that is required to fully charge the battery and sustain the charge in it.
When the alternator bearings go bad, it’s not possible for the rotor to spin and electricity cannot be generated.
Also, when the alternator bearings are getting bad, the sign you should look out for is the squeaking and grinding sounds that you’ll begin to hear.
However, these sounds are not always constant and in some cases, whenever the car is accelerated or when the speed of the car reduces, you may not hear these sounds again and you’ll be able to drive the car properly without the interference of the noise.
Once you begin to hear these sounds, there’s a very high possibility that you’d have to replace your car’s alternator.
Driving the car continuously without rectifying the problem would cause the noise to get really bad and might also cost you more than it would if you had just checked out the alternator and replaced it if need be.
You need to replace it because, without the alternator, the battery is not being charged and after a while, the charge that has been stored in the battery will be completely depleted.
How Long Can You Drive with a Bad Alternator Bearing?
Most times, how long you can drive your car with a bad alternator bearing is determined by the stage the alternator fault is in.
Whether it’s in an early stage, or whether it’s in the advanced stages already. You can drive your car even after the alternator bearings have gotten bad for as long as the battery stays on.
However, this is not advised because you’re at risk of ending up with a dead battery.
Most times, after the battery has been fully charged you can drive with a bad alternator bearing for about 25 miles before the battery’s stored energy becomes completely depleted.
Once you have been able to detect that your car’s alternator bearings have gotten bad, you should drive to the nearest mechanic and get it fixed to avoid being stranded after the battery’s energy runs out.
Do not keep driving as if nothing is wrong with your car because the squeaking and grinding sounds might go on and off but this doesn’t mean the problem is gone.
Continued usage of a car with bad alternator bearings just makes the problem worse so you should get it checked as soon as possible.
If eventually, the noise becomes constant, this means that the alternator bearing failure is in its advanced stages. At this point, you shouldn’t attempt to drive the car at all.
What Causes the Alternator Bearing to Go Bad?
Alternators have parts that move and these parts are susceptible to wear and tear over a long period of usage. In some cases, the alternator bearings can get worse as a result of drive belts that have been over-tightened.
This doesn’t cause the alternator bearings to get bad immediately, but after driving around with the overly tightened drive belt, the alternator bearings can start failing and get bad.
So whenever a drive belt is being replaced, ensure that it has the right tension and it has been fitted rightly to eliminate the chances of bad alternator bearings as a result of overly tightened drive belts.
Driving through water or exposing your alternator to any sort of water body can also cause the alternator bearings to get bad.
When there’s an accumulation of dirt around the alternator, and also, when there’s heat around the alternator, the bearings can get bad.
What to Do if Alternator Bearing Goes Bad?
When an alternator bearing goes bad, the first thing you should do is stop driving the car or get it to the nearest repair shop.
Then you can proceed to get new alternator bearings if you know to replace them, but if you don’t know how to replace them, get a mechanic to replace them.
Most repair shops would advise that you change the whole alternator because there’s a possibility that something else already got bad inside the alternator.
However, if you cannot afford to change the whole alternator you can just go ahead and change the bearings and you’ll have your car back in good condition.
Is it Bad to Drive with a Bad Alternator Bearing?
Yes, it is bad to drive with a bad alternator bearing because the more you drive the car with a bad alternator bearing the higher the chances of something else getting damaged in the alternator.
When you keep driving with a bad alternator bearing, you’re at risk of having a dead battery, sometimes the alternator gets damaged.
If you drive to a repair shop as soon as you notice the signs of a bad alternator bearing, you would save more because no other part will be damaged and you can replace just the bearings.
How Do You Stop Alternator Bearing Noise?
The most efficient way to stop the noise from the alternator bearing is to replace it. By replacing the already bad alternator bearing, you would not have to worry about any difficulty in starting your car, the noise from the bad bearings, or being stranded.
However, replacing the whole alternator is much easier and less time-consuming to replace the alternator than replacing the alternator bearings. This way you can confidently drive your car anywhere and at anytime.
How Much Does it Cost to Replace Alternator Bearing?
The cost of repairing an alternator bearing is quite cheap compared to replacing the entire alternator.
Alternator bearings cost between $20 to $80 and labor costs between $150 to $300 depending on the type of car alternator and if it’s easy to find or it’s scarce.
While the cost for replacing the entire alternator ranges from $100 to $1000 depending on the type of car and how recent the model of your car is.
When you’re planning to replace your alternator or alternator bearing, have in mind that you’ll be spending between the range of $350 – $1000.
The alternator bearing is a very important part of the alternator and the alternator is an important part of the car’s electrical system because it supplies all the electronic devices with electricity. It should be properly maintained and when it’s not in good condition, it should be fixed as soon as possible.