How An Alternator Works

Basically an alternator is an electrical generator that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. This energy is in a form of alternating current. Many alternators will use a rotating magnetic field with a stationary armature, that generates this electrical energy.

Alternators are used in cars to charge the battery and power all the various electrical systems while the engine is running.

Vehicle alternators will first used in WW2 by the military to power radio equipment on specialist vehicles. After the war ended, ambulances,radio taxi's and various other high electrical demand vehicles used alternators. In 1960, Chrysler introduced the alternator as standard equipment on the Plymouth Valiant.

Alternator's themselves have been around since the 1830's. The simple design and effectiveness are some of the main reasons they're still in use today. Although modern alternators have slight technical changes, the basic principles have stayed the same for decades.

If you're working on a build right now or you just want to learn how to do some repair work on your ride, here's a 2-Minute Tech episode where we teach you how to rebuild an alternator!

For more 2-Minute Tech's with great how to advice, check out the 2-Minute Tech page here. Be sure to stay tuned for more tech from our shops on

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