How Does The Volvo Alternator Work?

An important part of your power supply system is your Volvo alternator. If something goes wrong with your alternator, you will likely experience one or more of the following:

  • frequent dead battery issues
  • dim lights

When your car is running, making sure that your battery gets charged is the responsibility of your alternator. While on the road, your car would die in no time, were it not for your alternator.

Power Supply Problems

It's not necessarily your Volvo alternator's fault, however, every time your vehicle experiences a power supply problem. An alternator works thanks to a belt. So that if there is a problem with the belt, your alternator will experience issues. Or, even though the alternator is supplying a charge, your battery may be unable to hold it. That could be because of a damaged or worn out battery.

The ALT Light

"In the old days", found within the dashboard, was a little something often referred to as "dummy lights". These were supposed to act as a warning system when something was amiss. Back in the day, they were unreliable at best. By the time the light went on, the damage had probably been done.

Today, however, the warning systems connected to dashboard lights are far more sophisticated. If your ALT light goes on, this is a signal that something's going wrong with the workings of your Volvo alternator. When that light goes on, it is advisable for you to get your alternator checked out ASAP.

The “service engine” light may also go on, if you are having problems with your alternator.

What to Do If Your Car Dies (While Driving)

If, while driving, your car slowly starts to lose power, it could be a bad alternator. As suggested above, your lights will start to dim, power of will wane, and the car will eventually die. Had the problem been simply a battery issue, you would likely have already experienced trouble starting your car, but nothing else.

If your car dies while you are driving, take the following steps:

  • Try not to panic (this is easier said than done)
  • Easy as she does it, guide your car to the shoulder.
  • Try restarting your car.
  • Turn your emergency flashers on (if they work).
  • Pull out your cell phone and call help.

Why Do Alternators Fail?

It's already been established that your alternator deals with your car's electrical components. Unfortunately, electricity produces heat as a byproduct. An integral fan is included in every alternator. Its job is to blow cool air through the alternator. To let heat escape, there are also cooling vents on the sides, back, and front. The alternator should be kept as clean as possible. Its exterior should not have debris, grease, or dirt on it. This will help avert overheating issues. Your alternator will not last long if heat is trapped inside of it.

Additional Safeguards for Your Volvo Alternator

To further protect the efficiency of your alternator, at the battery and at the alternator, check the electrical connection condition. Part of the alternator's output will be robbed by corroded or loose connections. This means that, to meet the electrical demands of your vehicle, your Volvo alternator is going to have to work even harder. If connections are dirty or loose, remove the connection, clean it thoroughly, and reconnect. You may need to replace a terminal or connector if it cannot be saved.

Damaged, worn, or loose belts should be replaced as soon as possible. An alternator cannot operate at full capacity with the bed belt. You can adjust the tension on a belt if it is, indeed, still serviceable. When in doubt, if the belt looks bad, change it out.

Make sure that the mounting hardware for the alternator is in good condition. The internal components of a Volvo alternator can be damaged by any unnecessary vibration or shaking from loose mounting hardware.

Should you have a mechanic change your Volvo alternator, or should you do it yourself? If you have the know-how, the right tools, and are very sure of yourself, you can order the parts needed online. If not, go with a trusted mechanic.