What Does It Mean When My Car Lights Flicker on the Dashboard?

Drivers rely on their car dashboard lights to inform them of when a problem has developed. One confusing event is when these lights begin flickering. To determine the root cause of this issue, you will need to take your vehicle to a professional technician at Sun Devil Auto. Chances are high the diagnosis will be a faulty alternator, which is not to be confused with a malfunctioning starter. A technician can inform you of the differences between the two parts and how each one can be fixed.

Replacing an Alternator

The alternator is responsible for supplying electrical power throughout your vehicle while you are using it. Generally, this part does not require a lot of maintenance, but it is vital for drivers to recognize when it is starting to fail. The symptoms of a faulty alternator include:

  • Battery dying
  • Car stalling or having issues starting
  • Strange noises emitting from the battery
  • Electrical problems forming
  • Headlights flicking or dimming
  • Indicator light on dashboard turning on

The alternator is a crucial component in recharging the battery. It is important to keep an eye out for the dashboard lights flickering because if the only symptom is a dead battery, then it could simply be that the battery has outlived its usefulness. There is no need to get a new alternator when all your car truly needs is a new battery.

The above symptoms could also point toward a blown fuse, bad wiring or a loose belt. A technician will look at all this to pinpoint the precise problem. Although replacing the alternator is sometimes a necessary procedure, it is a rather expensive one. Technicians from Sun Devil Auto will look at everything to ensure you invest in the right parts.

Replacing a Starter

While it is an intensive treatment to replace an alternator, it is much easier to replace a starter, and a Sun Devil Auto technician will look at this component too when your car experiences flicking car dashboard lights. The starter is the part in your car that allows the engine to fire up. The signs that indicate it may be time to invest in a new starter include:

  • Pulsating or flickering dashboard lights
  • Engine turning over slowly
  • Engine failing to crank when you turn the key
  • Grinding noise coming from the engine
  • Freewheeling

Freewheeling happens when a driver cranks the engine, and instead of it turning out, it merely emits a loud whining sound. This indicates the starter is failing to engage with the car’s flywheel. Over time, the flywheel can become damaged beyond repair. A severe symptom of a bad starter is the presence of smoke coming from the engine. This clearly shows there is an issue, but it is a rare occurrence. To be safe, you should take your car to a technician once you notice any of the other above symptoms before smoke begins to form.

Most car starters are designed to last for around 100,000 miles. Many drivers confuse a faulty starter with a bad battery or alternator, so the only way to be sure of what is causing the car issues is to have a professional technician inspect it. This ensures you do not replace a component that was not actually causing problems and still had some life in it.

Why Do These Issues Make the Dashboard Lights Flicker?

Most modern vehicles have a priority list when the alternator or battery has problems supplying enough electricity throughout the entirety of the car. Therefore, certain components will receive less power than others to keep the vehicle moving. In addition to the car dashboard lights flickering, you may also notice your car’s radio not working as it should. If you have a port for charging your phone in your car, then it may also start not being as efficient.

Where Can You Take Your Car to Get It Fixed?

As soon as you notice a problem within your vehicle, you need to take it to a Sun Devil Auto technician right away. Car problems often only get worse the longer they go unaddressed, and you do not want to become distracted while driving due to flickering dashboard lights. Sun Devil Auto has numerous locations throughout Arizona, so schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.