Audi Alternator Troubleshooting

What to Do When Your Audi Alternator Isn’t Working Anymore

Car experts claim that the lifespan of your car's alternator is either about 150,000 miles or roughly seven years — whichever comes first. These numbers could be less or more, depending on your Audi's overall condition.

In the past, a faulty alternator was easy to diagnose. Today, due to the technological advances in vehicular electronics, diagnosis is more complicated, and the chances that you need to replace your alternator are higher.

Continue reading to learn what to do when your Audi alternator isn’t working anymore.

The Purpose of an Alternator

What exactly does the alternator do? Without a working alternator, the battery doesn’t produce to power to start the engine. The alternator is critical to maintaining the charge of the battery while alternating the electrical current to power other working components of the vehicle. A bad alternator may cause every electrical aspect of your car to go down.

Don't confuse a lousy alternator with a bad battery. Too often, electrical problems will fool even the best of us. If you decide to replace your battery before troubleshooting possible alternator failures, you may end up spending unnecessary funds on the wrong fix.

Causes of Broken Alternators

Figuring out the cause of your alternator woes is sometimes like finding a missing puzzle piece: The answer lies in the process of elimination. Fortunately, this puzzle is easily solved with a little patience.

Here are some common causes of broken alternators:

  • Engine Control Unit (ECU) or Central Computer System Failure: If you are driving a newer Audi model (10 years or younger), your vehicle's central computer system or engine control unit (ECU) operates your electrical components. The computer or ECU also manages your alternator. If the computer or ECU is down, your alternator won't charge.
  • A Broken, Missing, or Hanging Belt: Your Audi's belt produces the mechanical power that's converted to electrical energy by your alternator. If the belt breaks or gets stretched and becomes loose, your alternator will no longer provide charge to the battery.
  • Blown Fuse: Depending on the model of your Audi, the alternator may be able to work only off of a particular fuse. If the fuse blows due to old age or a power surge, your battery will fail to be charged by the alternator. Be sure to check your owner’s manual to see if your Audi uses a specific fuse.
  • Bad Wiring: It doesn't take much for a wire to become disconnected and cause alternator issues. Make sure that all of your wiring is secured to prevent battery failure via the alternator.
  • Dead Battery or Bad Alternator: Batteries are short-lived in hot environments and long-lived in cold ones. Have your battery’s voltage checked before buying a new one. If it’s not your battery, the alternator may be broken. If this is the case, the symptoms are easy to diagnose.

Signs of a Broken Alternator

A broken alternator may be the cause of any of the following:

  • Lights growing progressively dimmer over time
  • Headlights alternating between dim and bright
  • The dashboard warning light coming on
  • The alternator or battery emitting a burning smell
  • The radio or other electrical components working intermittently
  • A squealing noise in the car’s engine

The Fix Is In

Now that you’ve determined that your Audi needs a new alternator, can help you find the part you need to replace. Below is a step-by-step guide for the fix:

  1. Save your Audi's memory via the preset electronics. This task can be tricky, so refer to your owner's manual.
  2. Remove the negative battery cable from your battery.
  3. Loosen the belt tensioner and the serpentine belt, then remove the connectors or wiring harness.
  4. Remove the alternator and replace it with the new alternator. Take care to ensure that you align bolt holes with the hardware for a secure fit.
  5. Put the replacement belt on securely and check the tension to ensure a correct fit.
  6. Reconnect the negative battery cable.

This should take about two hours. If your mechanical knowledge is limited, it may take a little longer.

You'll need a few essential garage tools as well as a new serpentine belt, belt tensioner, and voltmeter. For all your DIY needs, is the only source that delivers everything you need.