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Your Alternator regulator worn out? » Read more about common malfunctions • Repair • Replacement manual
Reliably produce electricity with the generator governor
The generator governor is a part of the alternator. Basically, it just ensures that the alternating current produced by the generator is converted to direct current with a constant voltage. However, "generator governor" refers to a component that houses more than just the actual governor. The entire unit, consisting of diodes, regulators and coals is also referred to as "alternator controller". It is a wearing part and relatively easy to replace.
Generator governor operating principle
The alternator controller sits at the back of the alternator, opposite of the pulley. It consists of the actual controller, the coals, the diodes and a case that houses the entire unit. In addition, the power supply connector is also located on the alternator controller. Furthermore, the alternator controller always adjusts its charging capacity depending on the season. At lower temperatures, the battery has a different loading behavior than in the summer. The controller ensures that these temperature differences are taken into account during the charging process. This allows the alternator to constantly charge the battery, as well as provide on-board power and ignition power.
Alternator controller defects
The controller itself doesn't usually break. The coals, however, are in fact consumable parts. The coals are one or two pins made of pressed graphite that is loosely stored in a plastic guide. They are fastened on the inside by means of a spring. The outside permanently slides over a slip ring inside the alternator. The coals are used to dissipate the generated electricity from the alternator. For this purpose, the spring in the inner side of the coals constantly presses the pins against the slip ring with constant pressure. Yet, at some point the coals will be ground down so far, that the spring force no longer suffices. This results in errors in the alternator's charging circuit.
A defective alternator is usually noticed due to a permanently lit charging control light or an error message. If this is not the case, a defective alternator controller can be detected as a result of the battery no longer charging. The result is an ever weaker illumination, or the car no longer starting.
Repairing the alternator controller
In some cases, the coal terminals are simply stuck in their guides, but not actually ground down yet. This is due to the grinding dust resulting from the friction between the graphite pin and the slip ring. In any case, the controller must be removed. It is usually mounted to the alternator with one or two screws. Simply disconnect the connector and unscrew the controller. This may require removal of the alternator and unscrewing the back cover, although in most cases this is not necessary. Nonetheless, checking the alternator controller is a good opportunity to also check the generator's driving belt. If it is worn or squeaks, it can easily be replaced as well at this time.
When the generator governor is removed, one should vigorously flush it with brake cleaner. It is best to wear gloves when doing so, as brake cleaner is very degreasing. Thus, direct contact with skin poses a health hazard. Once the coals are sticking out far enough, the controller can be reinstalled. In most cases, this will cause the generator to function properly again. However, if the graphite pin is just a few millimeters in length, the entire generator governor ought to be replaced. Before replacing, you should also risk taking a look at the running traces in the alternator. A flashlight might be useful for this. If the coals have already left deep grooves in the copper slip ring, the new controller will not serve for long. In this case, the complete alternator should be overhauled. Another tip is firmly shaking the generator shaft once allowing it to spin freely by hand. This allows you to check the alternator bearings for wear and slackness. Brand quality generator governor A generator's governor is a highly utilized component. The installation of a low-cost solution can result in serious issues. The worst case scenario is a generator catching on fire, which can have dire consequences for the entire car and its occupants. Thus, an alternator controller by a brand manufacturer is always the right decision for maximum safety and performance.