Summer is approaching and that means it is time to do some basic maintenance inspections so you won’t get stuck on the side of the road in the approaching hot weather.  There are few things as miserable as having your vehicle die when the temperature is hovering over one-hundred degrees.

One of the car parts you need to check on a regular basis is the alternator.  Ideally you will have this checked each time you get an oil change to make sure it is working properly.  Why?

The alternator provides the electrical current to recharge your battery and in turn provides electrical current to all electrical parts in your car.  Without the alternator you are going nowhere.  You generally get just a little bit of warning before the alternator gives up the ghost.  You will see your lights dimming or the car stereo system will stop playing while you are driving.  Once those things happen it will not be long before all electrical systems fail including the battery.

Alternators consist of a spinning set of windings called a rotor and they use an electronic voltage regulator so that the proper amount of voltage is sent to the battery and all other electrical parts.  You do not fix your alternator by recharging your battery.  That’s like putting the cart before the horse for the battery will not work if the alternator is not working.

The average alternator will last between 75,000-100,000 miles so each and every time you go in for normal maintenance your alternator should be checked.  Sometimes it is simply a matter of adjusting the drive belt tension; other times the entire alternator needs to be replaced.

As with many of the replacement parts in your vehicle the alternator is not that expensive; in this case the replacement labor is often more expensive than the replacement auto part depending on the make and model of your car.  With a maintenance job like this you are oftentimes better off going to a salvage yard and buying a reliable recycled auto part and doing the maintenance yourself.

Other maintenance quick fixes are the radiator, battery, cooling hoses and of course tires and even brakes.  There are so many repairs and replacements that the average driver can do to save on maintenance costs and saving money is definitely a priority in today’s economy.

Remember, the next time you go in for an oil change or regular maintenance make sure the alternator is checked so you can drive with confidence this hot summer.