There’s no denying that owning a car comes with a lot of benefits. But do you know that it also comes with a lot of responsibilities? One of them is that you need to inspect that vehicle from time to time, ensuring that all its components are in good working conditions.
Another responsibility attached to owning a car is that you need to learn and understand the various basic components that make a vehicle operate. One of them is understanding the difference that exists between a starter and an alternator.
An alternator is not the same thing as a starter. The primary function of an alternator is to convert mechanical energy to electrical energy, which is used to charge the battery and power various electrical systems. On the other hand, the starter works by using electricity to turn and start the car engine.
Is it possible for an alternator to be a starter? Is a starter the same as an alternator? Is the starter motor connected to the alternator? Can a starter and alternator go out at the same time? Read further to find answers to these burning questions and more.
Can an Alternator be a Starter?
An alternator is not a starter. Both components perform different functions inside a car. The starter is a small motor inside your vehicle, which is often powered by a battery. Its primary function is to turn over or crank the engine.
Can an alternator be a starter? This question can be rephrased as – can a car engine run with just an alternator? The simple answer is no.
The battery is needed to power the starter, which helps to crank the engine. Without the alternator, a battery can still turn over and keep the engine running for a short period. Without the battery, an alternator cannot start a vehicle on its own.
So, the bottom line is that an alternator cannot be a starter. They are two different components inside your car. However, both components can be merged into a single system, called an integrated starter-alternator system (ISA).
ISA is very common on hybrid vehicles. Its functions include starting & stopping a car, increasing power, and energy recovery during braking. Also, the integrated starter-alternator system helps to power other electric systems in your vehicle.
Is a Starter The Same Thing as an Alternator?
Both the starter and alternator are two different components of your vehicle. They are not the same thing because both of them perform different functions.
Here’s What You Need to Know About a Starter
A starter motor is one of the components of a vehicle’s starting system. Its primary function, as earlier mentioned, is to help turn the car’s internal combustion engine to switch it on.
A starter motor is a DC motor; it has a starter solenoid, which helps to receive electric current from the battery. The starter solenoid has one small connector and two large terminals. One of the terminals is connected to the positive battery cable and the other one is responsible for powering the starter motor.
As soon as you turn the key in the ignition, a large amount of electric current is generated from the battery and sent to the motor to crank the engine and start the vehicle.
Here’s What You Need to Know About an Alternator
An alternator works by converting mechanical energy to electrical energy, which it utilizes to charge the battery when the engine is running. The system also works by powering various electrical systems in a car, such as dashboard instruments and headlights.
Here’s how the alternator works; as soon as you turn the key in the ignition, power is transferred directly to the drive belt. The drive belt is connected to a pulley, which is responsible for turning the alternator’s rotor shaft.
The primary function of the alternator rotor shaft is to spin the magnets around a coil, generating alternating current (AC) power. The AC power generated, with the help of a diode, is then converted to direct current (DC) power, which is used to charge the battery and power other electrical systems.
As you can see, both the starter and the alternator work differently. As such, the bottom line is that the alternator is not the same thing as the starter.
Is The Starter Motor Connected to The Alternator?
The starter motor is not connected directly to the alternator. Instead, it’s connected to the side of your vehicle’s engine or transmission.
As for the alternator; it’s also connected to the engine. However, this component is connected through the drive belt, which receives power from the engine, as soon as you turn the key in the ignition.
Apart from the engine, another thing that the starter and alternator have in common is the battery. The former needs a sufficient amount of electricity from the battery while the latter is the one responsible for powering the battery.
Bottom line: the starter is not connected directly to the alternator. Both components are connected differently to the engine and perform different functions.
Can Both Starter and Alternator go out at the Same Time?
Both the starter and alternator can go out at the same time. However, you need to understand that this only happens in rare cases.
As mentioned earlier, the connection that exists between the alternator and the starter is the battery. Your car battery needs the alternator to charge and save battery when the engine is running. A large amount of energy stored by the battery through the help of the alternator is required by the starter motor to start the engine.
So, if the alternator is bad, it could indirectly affect the starter. The alternator can fail today while the starter fails to work tomorrow.
Another way both components can go out at almost the same time is when you have a bad starter. In this case, the failing starter will draw a very large amount of amps when starting, putting a lot of stress on the alternator and eventually damaging it.