How Far Can I Drive With A Dead Alternator? Find Out

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links, As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (at no extra cost to you). Learn More

The alternator is that device in any vehicle that helps to charge the battery continuously such that it can always start the car regardless of how long it has been used during the drive. Should the alternator fail to charge the battery, chances are that the battery will run down and whenever the engine is turned off, the battery will be so depleted that it will not be able to start the car until you are able to charge it. (Read Also: Does Revving The Engine In Neutral Charge The Battery?)

This you can do either by jump-starting it, charging it using electricity or through the services of commercial battery chargers. Does the alternator prevent you from driving the car for long distances when it is bad? We shall strive to answer this question and many others in this article.

So how far can I drive with a dead alternator? It is not advisable for you to drive a car with a bad or faulty alternator for any considerable distance. This is because, since the alternator is faulty, it means that it no longer charges the battery as it should. (Read Also: How Long Does It Take To Charge Car Battery With Alternator?)

For this reason, as you drive the car, especially for any long time, the battery will get progressively drained which may ultimately damage it beyond any repairs. Essentially, you should only drive the car to get to the nearest service centre or mechanic workshop so that your alternator can be fixed or replaced as the case may demand.

Refusing to do this is simply putting the life of your battery at risk. The distance recommended for you to drive a car with a faulty alternator is not more than a few hundreds of metres; just long enough for you to get help.

What Happens When The Alternator Dies?

When the alternator dies, it means that your battery will no longer get charged as you drive, which also means that you stand the risk of your car refusing to start should you turn the engine off. This failure to charge your battery has the effect of draining your battery so severely that it may damage it entirely beyond any repairs.

Furthermore, a damaged alternator leads to dimmed headlights which may only brighten as you accelerate. Since your headlights are dimmed, it obviously means reduced visibility and its attendant risks to accidents and all that. A bad alternator also leads to the dimming of the interior lights of the car and may even cause poor performance by the radio in the car or the AC.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Alternator?

There are many ways through which you can tell a bad alternator which include the reduction in the brightness of both the headlights and interior lights of the car. Sometimes, the headlights of the vehicle may brighten up when you accelerate and dim whenever you reduce speed because the battery is not adequately charged.

Furthermore, a bad alternator may present by way of giving out growling sounds within the cavity of the engine preliminary to showing other symptoms. Essentially, these growling noises are an indication of a failing alternator in the making. It is also common for a bad alternator to manifest in overheating which gives off the smell of burning rubber or wire in the interior of the car.

Can I Drive With A Faulty Alternator?

Yes, you can drive with a faulty alternator but think twice before you do so unless you are itching to buy a new battery, which I doubt that you are. This is because a faulty alternator does not charge the battery as you drive, which may eventually lead to very severe or even injurious battery run down. (Read Also: Can I Charge A Car Battery With UPS? Find Out Now)

When this happens, though depending on the length of time you drive, the battery may be irreparably damaged. If you must drive on a faulty battery, do so only for long enough to get to the nearest battery or alternator repair specialists who will attend to your problem before any irreparable damage is done.

Are There Risks Of Driving With A Bad Alternator?

Of course, there are risks associated with driving on a bad alternator. First and most importantly, you stand the risk of getting your battery damaged beyond any repairs depending on the length of time you spend driving with it. Secondly, a bad alternator can cause the headlights of a car to dim significantly.

When this happens and especially at night, the poor visibility might be a recipe for disaster as accidents may not be totally avoidable. That a bad alternator causes overheating and the resultant smell of burning rubber means that heat is generated which may be a possible cause for fire outbreak in cars.

The interior lights of a vehicle with a bad alternator also dim significantly which implies that certain things such as reading or writing by the driver or his/her companions may not be possible. Even the possibility of taking readings from the multiple metres and gauges on the dashboard may not be easy since both the dashboard light and interior lights are dimmed and sometimes vary significantly too.

How Long Will A Car Run Without Alternator?

As a general rule, a car with a bad alternator should not drive for very long distances in order to prevent the battery of the car from developing irreparable damage due to severe power depletion. In essence, drive the car for not more than just a few hundred metres,  in order to be able to get help from specialists who can assist you with your alternator problem.

Will A Bad Alternator Kill A New Battery?

Of course, a bad alternator can kill any battery, no matter how new it is. This is because, at the beginning,  the battery will start the car as expected,  but as you drive with it, the power in the battery will be gradually drained until it becomes absolutely flat.

Progressive draining of this battery might do it significant harm such that any further repairs will become a futile or vain effort. If you must drive with a bad alternator, do so only to where you expect help with your problems and not go anywhere beyond that. That is just it.

What Are Some Of The Signs Of A Bad Battery?

It disgusts beyond measure to find that,  after all said and done, your car will not spurt to life due to a dead or dying battery. This is quite capable of disrupting your plans or setting you back a notch. The most logical thing, therefore, is to know how you can spot the signs of a bad battery so that you can forestall any disappointments.

What therefore are these signs?

For an engine to run involves three basic techniques, the first of which is the battery giving a jolt of electricity to the starter which starts the engine running that puts the starter in action and finally, the alternator comes in by charging the battery.

This means that you can use the elimination method to identify which among them has any defect. If the engine spurts to life and then dies off, your alternator may not be charging the battery, whereas if it jump-starts but won’t start again, then you may be dealing with a dead battery.

To be able to ascertain any battery faults, check the battery gauge on the dashboard first. If the dashboard lights are dim, your battery may be guilty. Next, try turning on your windshield wipers, lights or the automatic windows. Turn them all off and try starting the car once again. If it fails to start, then you are now sure the battery is bad.

1. Battery Corrosion

 If your car won’t start when you turn on the ignition, corrosion of the battery is a possible culprit. Try using a rag to carefully wipe off any corrosion on it and attempt to jump-start it. If it starts, run the engine for a while, turn it off and try to start it again. If it won’t start again, it is a sign that your alternator is alright but the battery is not retaining the charge when the alternator is stopped.

2. Old Battery

Old batteries are known to retain charge less than new ones because the metals inside them are corroded which makes the charge inside them to reduce such that no matter how much power the alternator gives the battery, it can’t retain it to start the car. Acquaint yourself with how you can preserve the life of your battery.

What Are The Common Habits That Destroy Your Car?

Getting the car of your choice, particularly if it is your first, is a tremendous investment and you will stand up to anything that threatens to prevent it from running smoothly. Sometimes, we may be inadvertently guilty of what damages our vehicles without actually being aware of the fact. At this juncture, we shall look at some common innocent habits that do our cars a lot of harm.

1. Ignoring The Parking Brake

Regardless of the nature of the surface on which you are parking the car whether levelled or not, always use the parking brake. When you fail to do this, the whole weight of the vehicle rests on the parking pawl which can wear and ultimately break. However, when you use the parking brake, it reduces the weight borne by the pawl which eventually helps the transmission components to last longer.

2. Keeping The Gas Tank Low

When you fill your gas tank reasonably well, you are essentially protecting the car’s fuel system because the fuel pump stays cooler by being always submerged in the fuel. This means that if your tank is usually low on fuel, you are in essence inviting premature fuel pump replacement and thereby needlessly wasting scarce resources.

3. Sudden Shifts From Reverse To Drive Modes

The best approach here is to come to a complete stop before either reversing or moving forward. Doing it any other way puts your drivetrain at risk. Other bits of advice include revving your engine only when it is sufficiently warm but not when it is cold and refusing to go full throttle on the gas pedal even when you feel tempted to do it.

Recommended Products

The article won’t be complete, in all purity, if we do not introduce to you reputable products, related to the topic, that will stand you in good stead by their quality and impressive durability. Some of these products are:

  • New DB Electrical Alternator: This item satisfies all OEM specifications and is compatible with most Ford vehicles which are sold with one year warranty that offers free after-sales services. Additionally, there is the provision for prompt refund or replacement in all case of dissatisfaction with the item.
  • DB Electrical ADR0215: This alternator is compatible with most vehicles such as Cadillac, Chevrolet and is built to satisfy all OEM specifications. It is covered with one year warranty which offers free after purchase maintenance for twelve months. Its durability is assured which explains why it enjoys multiple star customer reviews worldwide.
  • AC Delco ACDB24R Advantage AGM Automotive BCI Group 51 Battery: The battery is so durable that it withstands road vibration while driving. It is made of calcium alloy which is resistant to corrosion and is durable due to the quality of materials used in its production. It is sold with an excellent warranty and guarantees agreements for customer protection at all times.

How Far Can I Drive With A Dead Alternator – Conclusion

Any battery fault may belie other problems too such as those of the alternator, conducting wires and many others. Therefore, if you think of any likely problem to do with your battery, it may save you a lot of headaches to consider other related components as well.

For this reason, we have taken enough time to discuss how you can differentiate battery problems from those of the alternator. Each of these vehicle parts has peculiar ways in which their problems manifest and so you may have to adopt the process of substitution in order to identify your culprit for any problem you observe.

Maintenance of the battery, alternator and even the entire vehicle has not been treated with levity. If you should be diligent enough to read the user manual thoroughly and hearken to all the bits of advice given in it and this post, then you may be bidding farewell to being caught unawares by common motor vehicle complaints.

You can never tell when these matters may arise and so, please do the needful. After all, to be forewarned, they say, is to be fore prepared, right?

Leave a Comment