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1. Car Power Basics > 9. Upgrade Your Car’s Alternator

Upgrade Your Car’s Alternator

It’s possible to install so many electronic devices in your car that the battery continues to discharge even when the engine is running. Upgrading to a high-output alternator ensures that there’s enough power to feed all the devices while keeping the battery charged.

An alternator is a device in modern automobiles that acts as the voltage generator for the engine (Figure 1-19). While the battery does the job of getting the engine started, once the car is running off fuel it technically doesn’t need a battery anymore. You could even disconnect the battery while a car was running, and it would probably continue to run (this applies to older cars without a lot of electronics; newer cars would throw a fit because the battery keeps the voltage levels stable). If you’ve ever gotten a jump start and then driven around with a “dead” battery, you understand this feature.


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