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Ford Windstar Alternators and Generators

The alternator or generator is used in the charging system for your Ford Windstar. To keep your vehicle at its best performance, one of these parts needs to be in place to maintain a constant charge to your system. Understanding how the charging system works on your Windstar will help you keep it up and running well.

What is an alternator?

As a part of the Ford Windstar charging system, the alternator is attached to the engine. It is driven by a drive belt, which is also called a serpentine belt. The alternator creates electric power in your vehicle while it is running, which charges the battery to keep it sustained and also provides additional power for other electrical systems.

What is the difference between an alternator and a generator?

An alternator is a type of generator. They both create energy for your Windstar but have a few differences in the way they function. Alternators are used more often than generators.

  • The ways in which the energy is created inside of each part is different.
  • Alternators conserve energy and use only what is needed while generators use all the energy they produce.
  • Alternators also produce voltage only when needed versus constant voltage being produced with generators.
  • There is a higher output with alternators than with generators.
What are the signs of a bad alternator?

There are signs your vehicle gives you to hint there is a problem with your alternator. It is an essential part of your vans operation, so tending to those signs is key to keeping your vehicle in working condition.

  • Charging system warning light: Some models have a battery warning light or "ALT" light on the dashboard that will illuminate when there is an issue with the charging system. Further testing would need to be done to determine if the alternator is the problem.
  • Other warning lights: If you are using other electrical functions, such as the wipers, and their warning lights come on during use, it might be a sign that the alternator is not able to produce enough energy to perform those multiple tasks at the same time.
  • Minimized electrical function: If electrically powered functions are slowed down or do not work, there might be an alternator problem.
  • Belt problems: If you hear a growling or whining noise or smell burning rubber, the drive belt might be damaged or broken. This will cause the alternator to perform at a low level or not at all.
  • Not starting: If your charging system is not working, the vehicle will not start.
How long should an alternator last?

Your Ford alternator is made to last for an average of eight to 12 years. It generally does not need maintenance but can occasionally experience early repair needs. Your vehicle will not function for long with a faulty alternator, so repair or replacement is necessary.