The short answer to this question is no. However, even if car alternators are not waterproof, it does not mean that the car alternator is not water-resistant (because it is). Car alternators can fare well when it comes to rain or the occasional splash of water from the car wash. However, if your vehicle comes into a situation where it is submerged into excessive water such as floodwater or going through a river, this is a surefire way to ruin your alternator.
The car alternator is a vital part of your vehicle as it serves as a charging unit for your car’s battery, especially when your vehicle is running. To explain what the car alternator does, think of it as a power bank to your phone’s battery while using it. Except that for cars, it would take years before the vehicle’s battery will die; the car alternator ensures that you have enough power to continue running so your car will not stop in the middle of the street. More than that, the car alternator also supplies electricity to all the electrical units in your car. It is actually a pretty salient part of your car, so you should make sure that your car alternator is of good quality and is working properly at all times.
That is why many questions surround this critical car part. Let us demystify some commonly asked questions about the car alternator.
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How do you waterproof an alternator?
Waterproofing an alternator is pretty simple. Just follow the steps below:
- Make sure that your car’s engine has cooled down and you are parked in a flat area.
- Jack your car up so you can properly locate the area where you would need to mount the Engine Splash shield.
- Determine the mounting locations of your Engine Splash Shield and remove the old bolts and/or clips using your screwdriver, socket wrench, or prying tool (whichever is applicable).
- Secure the Engine Splash Shield with the appropriate bolts, screws and washers, and clips. Make sure to follow the correct torque specifications.
- Once properly secured, lower down your car and run it for a test drive. If you hear or feel that there is something wrong or lose in your car’s engine portion, make sure to check on it and tighten up the screws.
Car alternators can withstand rain and big splashes if it is not fully submerged in water for a long time. The car alternator in itself is fully equipped to be water-resistant. However, if you want to make sure that you do not want the water to rust the exposed parts of your alternator such as the brass and bronze brushes, then consider using an Engine, Splash Shield.
Also, an Engine Splash Shield protects the engine compartment from water and dirt. It is primarily made out of either plastic or metal and its primary objective is to shield your engine from a number of elements such as water, dust, and dirt. To a small degree it reduces the aerodynamic drag and as a result, improves highway fuel economy. In some cars, the engine splash shield redirects the airflow over the components that need to be cooled down, such as an oil pan or alternator.
Is it safe to wash my car alternator?
Yes! To wash your alternator safely, you can follow the steps below:
- Since your alternator supplies electricity to your car battery, make sure that the connection between your alternator and your battery is cut. In this manner, you are safe, and there will be no shocks while you clean your alternator.
- Grab a bucket of warm water and liquid dish soap and mix the soap into the warm water.
- You can either gently pour or spray the water in your alternator. Make sure to clean all the nooks and crannies of your alternator so it will be free from dust, dirt, or debris.
- Let it be for five minutes.
- Get a wire brush and gently scrub the dirty areas.
- Rinse your alternator and dry it out before connecting your battery back to your alternator.
In this light, keeping your alternator clean and free from debris, dust, or dirt is an integral part of your car maintenance. Car owners, however, are discouraged from pressure washing their cars. A pressure wash works by getting a strong hose and spraying it on rather forcefully to both the car’s exterior and interior. This offers many downsides aside from the obvious upside of having your car’s exterior and interior clean. One of the significant downsides of pressure washing your vehicle for your exterior is that it can severely damage your car’s paint. On the other hand, pressure washing the interior of your car or the engine portion of your vehicle will damage the engine parts and eventually rust of metal objects inside your car’s hood.
What happens if the car alternator gets wet?
What will happen is that the exposed parts of your alternator will get damaged. These are the brass or bronze brushes of your alternator, usually lubricated to keep the wear and electrical arcing down. When these brass or bronze brushes get exposed to still or flood water, the lubrication wears away, and the actual brushes get damaged. Frequent exposure to water will cause these brushes to rust and thus, will no longer function properly as it is out of sync with the slip rings. This will eventually lead to corrosion of electrical connections, corrosion and premature wear of bearings, and a slight reduction of power generation due to water viscosity.
Another aspect that you must think about when exposing your alternator to tons of water is grime. That said, you must make sure that your alternator is free from dust and dirt, including grime. If your car has been submerged for a prolonged time in floodwater or still water, dust, sand, and debris will automatically latch on into your car’s interior parts, including your alternator. This means that all of this dirt will latch onto your alternator’s exposed brushes, and as a result, it will not function properly.
Again, your alternators can handle the occasional rainfall and splashes of water but do not submerge it into flood or still water because your alternator will get destroyed.
In essence, your car alternator is designed to be water-resistant, it will work even if your alternator gets splashed by water. Consequently, the time you must worry is when your alternator is fully submerged for extended periods in still water or flood water.
Another car activity that most car owners think is helpful is when they pressure wash your car’s engine. This is an ultimate no-no when it comes to maintaining your car alternator because the pressure washer’s force or power will cause more damage to your car alternator (among other car parts) than its intended purpose.
How to dry out an alternator?
In order to dry out an alternator, all you have to do is get a petroleum distillate or alcohol-based precision cleaner. This acts as a fast-drying formula, and spray it into your alternator. Let it sit for about 24 hours, and then check your alternator – and then you will be good to go! A pro-tip is to leave your car hood open while drying it out so that there is sufficient airflow, which helps in the overall drying process.
If this does not work, call a car mechanic as there may be other aspects that need checking, cleaning, or replacing other than your alternator. Never panic because there are always inexpensive ways to fix your car. Of course, whenever in doubt, just call for help.
Helpful ways to maintain your car alternator
Aside from making sure that your car alternator is clean, there are also other ways you can make sure that your car alternator is in good and optimal shape
Choosing the right alternator belt
The alternator belt is attached to your car’s alternator. A series of pulleys operate it to ensure that your car alternator supplies enough power to your car’s battery. Since the belt and the alternator work hand in hand, it is your responsibility to consistently check on your alternator belt as a responsible car owner. A good rule of thumb is to check and replace your belt once you garnered 40,000 to 70,000 miles. However, it is encouraged for car owners to check it out every six months as part of their car maintenance check-up.
Clear any dirt, dust, or debris
Like any part of your car, your alternator must be free of dirt, dust, or debris to function properly. While it is located under the hood, it can be susceptible to dirt, dust, or debris over time. Make sure to check your alternator as part of your car’s routine inspection so your car can be in tip-top shape!
Make sure it is aligned
With cars, you cannot expect that the road to your destination will be smooth. There will always be rough roads where your car (and your car parts) will be jostled. Since your alternator is attached to the alternator belt and the crankshaft pulley, a rough road can mean that your alternator is no longer aligned with these important attachments; hence it is not working as expected. Part of your routine inspection must include checking if your alternator, belt, and crankshaft pulley are aligned.