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Nissan Altima Alternators and Generators

Nissan Altima alternators and generators play an important role in the functioning and performance of your vehicle. The alternator acts as the main generator for the car, providing the voltage necessary to operate the many systems of the car and electronics. The generators, however, are generally functional for a number of years but should be checked as part of the normal service process.

What are the components of the Nissan Altima charging system?

The Nissan Altima's charging system generates the electrical energy to support the battery and the associated electronics. This includes everything from starting the car, running the A/C, or listening to the radio. The parts of the charging system include:

  • Starter: When the key is turned, the ignition switch engages and starts to crank up the engine.
  • Alternator: The alternator generates energy for the Altima's operation. It also converts its energy to the battery to keep the battery adequately charged.
  • Battery: The battery powers the starter and ignition system and provides additional electrical energy when the vehicle's electrical load is more than the generator can produce.
What does an alternator do in a Nissan Altima?

The alternator has the major task of acting as a generator for the car. It charges the battery, but also provides the extra output needed to run the car's many electrical systems. Without the generator output, the car will only run for a short time. Once the battery loses its charge, the Altima will not be able to generate any power or restart until the generator is repaired or replaced.

What are the signs of a problem with your alternator?
  • Battery warning light comes on: This light could mean a problem with the battery or the generator and means all parts of the generating system will need to be checked.
  • Headlights or interior lights are dimmer than normal: The lights draw energy from the generator. If the lights get brighter when the engine is revved, the dimming could indicate a problem with the power supply.
  • Squealing noise from the front of the car: If the squealing gets louder when there are more electrical systems pulling power from the generator, there may be a problem with the alternator.
How is a voltmeter used to test an alternator?

Follow these steps to test the battery for sufficient power.

  • With the car off, attach the voltmeter to the battery by placing the red lead on the positive battery terminal. Then, place the black lead on the negative terminal.
  • Check the voltmeter. It should read above 12.2 volts.
  • If the reading is above 12.2, start the car to finish the alternator test.
  • If the reading is below 12.2, the battery may be the problem.

Follow these steps to test the alternator function:

  • Leaving the car running, rev the engine a few times.
  • Reattach the voltmeter to the battery as before. The voltage should read from a low of 13 to a high of 14.5.
  • Turn on the lights, AC, and radio.
  • If the reading stays in this range, the alternator is able to produce ample energy.
  • If the reading falls below 13, further investigation needs to occur.