The smoking alternator is not a good sign; you can only expect the worst if you continue driving. It can be disconcerting and dangerous because the alternator is one of the vital components in your car that generates electrical energy for the car to run. As much as you are concerned about the alternator smoking, you might also be triggered to find out why is my alternator smoking.

As stated, a smoking alternator is a bad sign which usually indicates a defect and can lead to a breakdown while driving.

The smoking alternator will negatively impact your vehicle and slow its performance increasing the risk of accidents.

However, if you want to figure out why is my alternator smoking, you are at the right place to din the answers. We have discussed all alternator smoking in the article to help the readers fix the issue; thus, ensure until you reach the bottom.

Why is My Alternator Smoking?

As much as it concerns you to experience the alternator smoking while driving, you should also be curious to discover why. However, the answer to why is my alternator smoking will not be limited to a single line because many reasons influence the cause.

The causes of a smoking alternator are generally due to overheating or burning components in the alternator.

The alternator comprises multiple components that convert mechanical energy to electrical energy to power the electrical components in the vehicle.

Thus, if there are any faulty parts like a loose belt or broken wires will result in the alternator malfunction. As a result, it creates short circuits and overheating, leading the alternator to smoke.

What Causes the Alternator to Smoke?

The causes for the alternator smoking will differ with each vehicle depending on the damages caused to the components in the alternator. Below are some of the different reasons that cause the alternator to smoke.

Defects in the Cooling System

One of the most common reasons for your alternator to smoke is the defects in the alternator’s cooling system. The cooling system is responsible for down the heat of the built-in alternator through a cooling fan. But any damages in the cooling fan or defects in the system will fail to stabilize the heat in the alternator and result in overheating.

Damages in the Alternator Belt

The alternator belt is spun via the crankshaft connected to the engine and helps the alternator the overall function to convert and generate electrical energy.

Since the alternator belt is made out of rubber and prone to wear,  the chances are high for the belt to slip and break over time.

Pressure and tension increase within the alternator because the pulleys cannot rotate smoothly with a damaged alternator belt. As a result, the alternator fails to produce electrical energy and affects the cooling system in the alternator.

Thus, damage to the alternator belt will simultaneously result in a cloud of smoke because of overheating issues.

Issues in the Internal Bearing

The alternator has multiple internal bearings to hold the components and function accordingly. But if any damaged internal bearings are worn out, it affects the components and strains the internal system, creating more friction. The increased friction between the internal components and bearings will cause overheating and smoke.

Wrong Battery

Another common reason for your alternator to smoke is an incorrect battery. Selecting a battery that is compatible to function and withstand your vehicle is vital. Hence, using an incorrect smaller version producing less power will stress the batteries and result in overheating the alternators.

Faulty Alternator Diode

The diodes in the alternator help AC to the car’s electrical components. However, if the alternator misfunctions due to any damage, the alternator will overheat. Because when a diode is damaged, it buildups heat and continues to send AC to the electrical components, which can result in a fire.

What to do If the Alternator is Smoking?

If it is your first time experiencing an alternator smoking, you should be uncertain how to react to the cause. Thus, when you witness the alternator smoking while driving, stop continuing and pull your vehicle to the corner.

It is vital to prioritize individuals and vehicles to minimize the adversity of the situation. Turn off the vehicle and let the vehicle cool down till the smoke subsides. Now, you can examine the alternator or contact a professional to fix the issue.

Is It Safe to Drive with a Smoking Alternator

Is It Safe to Drive with a Smoking Alternator?

According to a mechanic or automobile professional, it is not advised to drive with a smoking alternator because it only worsens the situation.

It also becomes inconvenient and challenging to drive the vehicle while the alternator is smoking. Thus, it is best to avoid driving with a smoking alternator because, in worse situations, the smoke can turn into a fire as the alternator continues to overheat while driving.

There are also chances to lose complete power over your battery because it will not charge if the alternator fails. Hence, electrical energy  will not be generated to power the  ECU (Electrical Control Unit)

How to Prevent Alternator Smoking?

If you want to prevent the alternator from smoking, following the maintenance schedule and inspecting the alternator regularly is vital. Below are some of the tips you can follow to prevent the alternator from smoking.

  1. Ensure that the internal components of the alternator are correctly installed and repaired when needed.
  2. Check if the alternator belt and bearings are worn out and replace them.
  3. Examine the car battery, and check for damages and corrosion. Maintain the battery’s health and avoid straining them.
  4. Be vigilant of the failing alternator like, engine misfires, vehicle stalling, burning smells, and unusual noises.
  5. Check for loose or damaged wire connections in the alternator.


What does a Smoking Alternator Smell Like?

A smoking alternator will release a toxic odor like a burning rubber smell.

How to Fix a Smoking Alternator?

It is best to seek professional help because a smoking alternator is considered a severe sign which could lead to fires. According to mechanics,  milder situations can be fixed by repairing, while you will need to replace components if they are worn out or damaged.

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Video Credits – Derek Granquist

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