“Breaking In” an automotive alternator is not something most people think about. They just put it in, jump start the vehicle then turn everything on to see what this baby will do… If you do this you are guaranteed to have alternator failure problems. How you run your alternator at the beginning will give you the best chance of trouble free performance in the long run. Customers often install a new alternator before long trips or after charging system failure and continue with plans right away. Certain precautions need to be taken to identify and prevent problems with the charging system.
Why do I need to “Break In” a NEW Alternator?
Our Alternators are all brand new, none of the magnetic steel in the stator or rotor has been used before. This goes for the Magnet Copper Wire as well as the Diodes and other electronics in the new system.
So the reasoning into the need to break in an alternator goes all the way down to basic metallurgy, the understanding of magnetics and electronics. Alternators need to be cycled to align the atomic structure of its NEW Low Carbon Magnet Steel and Copper components for Better Magnet Function and Power Generating Performance. There are also manufacturing components such as oils and heat setting materials that should be cured slowly.
Battery (or Batteries)
Bad or Poor Battery Health will Destroy an Alternator in no time. Before installing the alternator, have the battery (or batteries) load tested and charged. Alternators are considered “Battery Maintainers”, they aren’t meant to recharge a dead battery. A bad or undercharged battery will cause Premature Alternator Failure. Below 12.4V and the Alternator will have Heat Issues and may burn up without frequent “Rest Periods”, e.g. shutting the vehicle off and letting the alternator cool. If the battery is below 12V at installation the alternator will likely fail, unless you charge the battery with a plug in charger or let the alternator “rest” frequently. If your battery reads below 11.8V on install it could be permanently damaged, it should be charged and tested before running a new alternator on this battery.
Cables and Connections
Before running your New Alternator, Clean All the Cables and Connections. The ground cable is most overlooked yet very important. Not only should the ground and positive connection at the battery be cleaned. The ground connection at the motor should be removed, cleaned and when reinstalling you should add a 12 AWG, or larger wire from this ground connection to the back or base of the alternator. Alternators utilize the rear case of the alternator for the Bridge Rectifier’s Ground contact. Adding the extra ground connection to the rear housing that the rectifier is connected to will improve the flow of positive and negative energy from the alternator to the battery.
- Start up and run vehicle just above idle, let it run about 10 minutes with minimal electrical load, slowly warming up the alternator and seating the brushes. Then shut the vehicle off and let the alternator cool for about 15 minutes.
- Run vehicle again for another 10 to 15 minutes, Turn on heater/AC blower etc.
- Stop and let the alternator cool. Check battery voltage to make sure it’s above 12.4V.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 about three or four times.
- After several cycles of heating and cooling, your alternator is ready for the road.
- Do not disconnect any electrical cables or wiring while the engine is in operation.
- Wear appropriate safety gear when working on a vehicles’ electrical and charging system. Battery acid is caustic and may become explosive.
- Alternator damage can occur if the battery is not fully charged or is defective.
- Disconnect the negative battery cable prior to performing work on the vehicle’s electrical and charging system.
- Prior to performing a repair, ensure the vehicle is in park or neutral (manual transmission). Ensure the emergency brake is set and the wheels are chocked.
- Do not perform work on the vehicle while it is in operation.
- Keep hands, shirt sleeves and tools away from moving and/or rotating parts.