Creating A Happier Automotive Environment

Maintaining and Repairing Your Fleet's Charging Systems

by Katrina Morgan

The electrical systems on a commercial fleet tend to be more durable and long-lasting than those on personal vehicles, but they are not immune to failures. Like any other components on your trucks, batteries, alternators, and associated equipment can fail. These parts may leave your drivers stranded, take your trucks out of commission, and result in costly roadside repairs and service.

Depending on how you use your fleet, you may also have other considerations for charging equipment. For example, power take-offs are common in agricultural and construction applications, but they have their own set of failure points. If your operations utilize this equipment, it's all the more critical to be aware of potential charging system issues.

The Most Common Failure Point: Your Alternator

Most commercial vehicles use components that would be familiar to anyone with experience working on cars. Although manufacturers scale these systems up for severe duty, their basic operating principles are the same. As a result, the alternator tends to be the most common point of failure for heavy-duty commercial charging systems.

As with your cars, the alternators on your trucks convert the engine's mechanical power into electrical energy. This energy charges the battery on the truck, which then supplies the necessary voltage for various electrical components. The alternator accomplishes this by turning a rotor inside a stator to generate electricity.

Heat and mechanical wear are the two primary causes of alternator failure. Since the alternator utilizes a rotating component, some wear over time is inevitable. Heat can also wear down the alternator more quickly, ultimately breaking down its lubrication and ruining its internal electronic parts. Overworked alternators generate more heat, so commercial vehicles often place excessive strain on their alternators.

Dealing With Fleet Alternator Repair and Maintenance

Any business that relies on its heavy-duty trucks should not wait for alternator failures. Towing a commercial vehicle from the side of the road can be expensive, and roadside alternator replacements aren't cheap. Instead, routine testing and inspection of alternators should be a regular part of your fleet's maintenance procedures.

An alternator that's more than a few years old or that has more than 100,000 miles may be living on borrowed time. If one or more of your trucks has an alternator that no longer puts out appropriate charging voltage, your technicians should consider this an urgent repair. Replacing these faulty alternators now ensures that your trucks stay operational and you don't leave your drivers stranded.

If you think your alternator is malfunctioning, take it in for truck repairs.