What does a voltage regulator do in my vehicle?

Your vehicle’s electrical system has some prominent components that keep it running. The battery, starter and alternator play a significant role in operation of any vehicle. If your car has a hard time starting up, chances are you will suspect one of these components. However, there is another electrical component that fulfills an important function even though it rarely draws the attention that other parts receive. It’s the voltage regulator.

Voltage regulators have the most perfectly descriptive name in what they do. They regulate the output of voltage that passes through a vehicle’s electrical system. Without a properly operating voltage regulator, surges in voltage from the alternator or generator could damage the battery and electrical accessories.

What happens if a voltage regulator fails?

Voltage regulators are designed allow just the right amount of voltage to pass through the system. If a voltage regulator begins to falter, it may allow excessive voltage to pass and cause electrical system damage, or it may not allow enough voltage to flow and make the vehicle difficult or impossible to operate or start.

Warning signs of a failing voltage regulator

Signs of a failing voltage regulator include the dashboard battery or engine warning light activating, flickering lights, a radio that has intermittent outages and sputtering engine performance. Of course, these warning signs are not exclusive to a bad voltage regulator. Many car problems exhibit these symptoms. When these signs occur, you need to do some detective work. Testing your voltage regulator and other electrical components with a voltmeter is a good place to start.

Can you drive with a bad voltage regulator?

Driving with a failing voltage regulator is a risky proposition. As stated earlier, if the voltage regulator is not doing its job, damage to the electrical system can occur and the vehicle will eventually stall. Like any essential component, the voltage regulator should be replaced if it is not performing at full capacity.

Voltage regulators play an essential role

Voltage regulators are somewhat unsung heroes that play a behind-the-scenes role in keeping everything working properly. The next time you drive down the highway, take a moment to consider the important function of the voltage regulator.

Checking voltage