Maintenance Tips, Tricks And Hacks For Your Vehicle

Can a Car Alternator Get Wet? Here Is What You Need To Know




Many car owners debate if car alternators can get wet. This question poses a unique challenge since alternators generate electricity – and electricity does not mix well with water.

So let us put an end to these heated debates once and for all!

I went around the city and talked to a few mechanics. Here is what I was told about alternators and water.

Key Takeaway

  • The alternator can get wet with water without any issues, however, if you accidentally spray a degreaser, then it can cause issues.
  • Alternators are not water-resistant. However, they have seals to prevent water from getting into some areas.
  • You can clean an alternator with water, but make sure that the battery is disconnected.
  • If water gets on the alternator, dry it off before you start your vehicle.
  • Water doesn’t hurt the alternator. It is corrosion from water that can affect the metal parts and cause premature wear.

Can a Car Alternator Get Wet?

Can a Car Alternator Get Wet Here Is What You Need To Know

Alternators can get wet with water without any major consequences, but degreasers in the engine bay can pose an issue if applied directly to the alternator.

Most alternators are designed for between 80,000 and 100,000 miles; however, the seals that cover their bearings may fail prematurely from excessive moisture exposure.

As such, when spraying a degreaser on an alternator, you risk spraying it directly onto its bearings which could cause it to fail sooner than expected.

Alternators generate the electricity that powers cars’ engines, lights, and other accessories. Located at the front of the engine, they consist of a pulley, an armature, and a stator. Many car owners – particularly detailers – often wonder if car alternators can get wet.

How do you know if it’s safe to get the alternator wet? Before detailing the engine bay, inspect the alternator. Look at the front housing where the pulley meets with the housing; when this starts going bad, you will notice metal shavings around that part and even some brown dust on top of it.

If your alternator is showing signs of failure, getting it wet with water or a degreaser could cause it to fail prematurely or short it out.

To put this into perspective: Water should only be applied if the alternator is in working condition (has its cover removed and no visible damage). If the alternator already shows signs that it needs replacing, getting wet will only accelerate deterioration.

How Do I Know If My Alternator Is Damaged From Water?

Identifying a water-damaged alternator involves observing for symptoms like difficulty starting the car, dim lights, a dead battery, or a warning light on your dashboard.

Difficulty Starting the Car

If your alternator has been damaged by water, one of the first signs you might notice is trouble starting your vehicle. The alternator charges your car’s battery while the engine is running. If it’s not functioning properly due to water damage, it may not be able to provide enough charge to the battery, making it hard to start your car.

Dim Lights

The alternator also supplies power to your car’s electrical systems, including the headlights. If your lights are dimmer than usual, especially when the engine is idling, this could be a sign that your alternator is not providing enough power and might have been damaged by water.

Dead Battery

A well-functioning alternator should keep the battery charged. If your battery is constantly dying or needs frequent jump-starts, this could be an indication that your alternator, possibly damaged by water, is not charging the battery correctly.

Warning Light

Most cars have a dashboard warning light that signals when there’s an issue with the alternator. Usually, this is shaped like a battery or it might say “ALT” or “GEN”. If this light comes on, it’s a clear sign that something might be wrong with your alternator, particularly if you recently exposed it to water.

How To Protect Your Alternator From Water Damage

Protecting your alternator from water damage involves steps like disconnecting the battery before cleaning, using protective sprays and creating physical barriers.

Disconnect the Battery Before Cleaning

Before you carry out any cleaning or maintenance on your alternator, it’s important to disconnect the battery. This is a safety measure that prevents you from accidentally shocking yourself while working on the alternator. Once the battery is disconnected, you can safely clean the alternator with a warm water and dish soap mix, gently pouring or spraying the mix onto the device.

Use Protective Sprays

To give your alternator an extra layer of protection against water and mud, consider using a protective spray. Products like Deoxit are designed to clean and protect electrical components, making them more resistant to potential water damage. By spraying this product into the alternator and on all the electric connections, you can help safeguard these components from the damaging effects of moisture.

Create Physical Barriers

Another effective way to protect your alternator from water damage is to create a physical barrier that blocks water from reaching the device. This could be as simple as a splash guard that covers the space from the radiator back to just past the alternator. Alternatively, you might want to consider temporarily covering the radiator with a rubber mat, plywood, sheet of metal, or something similar to prevent water from splashing up onto the alternator.

Use Appropriate Fuses and Wiring

To prevent damage from a fuse blowing, it’s recommended to use a fuse and appropriately sized wiring that is twice the alternator’s rated output current. This can help avoid irreversible damage to the alternator and keep it functioning properly.

Is The Alternator Water-Resistant?

Can a Car Alternator Get Wet Here Is What You Need To Know

The alternator in a car is not designed to be water-resistant and can get damaged if exposed to excessive amounts of water.

While an alternator is built to withstand normal weather conditions, it is not intended to be submerged or exposed to high volumes of water. Driving through deep puddles or floods can cause water to enter the alternator, which can lead to short circuits and damage the alternator’s internal components.

Water exposure can also lead to rust and corrosion over time, further damaging the alternator and reducing its lifespan.

Therefore, it is important to avoid excessive exposure to water whenever possible and to have your alternator checked regularly for signs of water damage, particularly if you’ve driven through deep water.

Remember, while some parts of a vehicle are designed to be more resistant to water, they are not waterproof. Always exercise caution when driving in wet conditions.

Can You Clean An Alternator With Water?

Yes, you can clean an alternator with distilled water; however, be sure to turn off your vehicle and disconnect the battery before beginning.

Furthermore, avoid pointing a pressure washer directly into the alternator as this could damage its wiring. Instead, use either a pre-soaked soft brush or sponge and only use distilled water – no degreaser necessary!

Alternators are an essential component of any car, providing power for components like headlights, radios, and windshield wipers. Over time, however, alternators can become dirty and clogged with dirt which reduces their efficiency. Many motorists wonder if water can be used to clean an alternator.

When cleaning an alternator, I mentioned that you can use distilled water rather than regular water. Distilled water has a low content of dissolved salts which makes it ideal for metallic parts since regular water can cause corrosion while distilled water has virtually zero corrosion effect on metal materials.

With these guidelines in mind, cleaning an alternator with water is a relatively straightforward task that can help extend the life of your car says Protect My Car.

I Got Water On My Alternator Will It Be Fine Once It Dries Off?

If water has splashed on your alternator, it may still function correctly once it dries off, but there can be potential issues if the exposure was significant.

The alternator is an essential element of any car engine. Its primary role is to generate electricity that powers the car’s electrical system. The alternator gets its energy from the engine and uses magnets to create an electrical current that charges the battery and powers lights, radio, and other accessories on board. Without an alternator, cars would not run for very long without electricity.

Alternators are designed to work even when submerged in water. However, if the alternator remains submerged for an extended period of time or is completely submerged in the liquid, there can be corrosion and electrical shorts.

If you have just finished detailing your engine bay and the car alternator got wet, leave the hood open so it can dry completely. Additionally, tap it gently with a clean towel to absorb any extra water.

How Do You Dry Out a Wet Alternator?

One of the most frequent car maintenance issues is a wet alternator. An alternator plays an integral role in car electrical systems and can become damaged due to moisture exposure. There are two methods for drying out a wet alternator: one requires special knowledge to disassemble it, while the other is more straightforward. I will explain both techniques here:

The most efficient, but more time-consuming way to dry a wet alternator is by taking it off. Start by taking the alternator out of your car and disassembling it. Next, clean all parts with a cloth or brush. Afterward, you can use either a hair dryer or a heat gun to gently dry them off.

Be sure to keep the heat low, as too much can damage the alternator. Finally, disassemble and install the alternator back in your car.

If you lack the expertise to disassemble an alternator, here’s how:

Once the vehicle is off and disconnected from the battery, turn off the engine and disconnect the alternator to ensure there is no electrical power to it. Take a clean towel and tap away any excess water inside of it.

Alternatively, grab a soft brush and put some cloth over it to try to extract any water inside from within the alternator. If it’s sunny out, leave the hood open all day long for easy access. Or, leave your engine running with only minimal fan assistance!

A wet alternator is usually not a major issue. The source of the issue lies in either water or degreaser damage. Water can cause corrosion to an alternator’s components while a degreaser can seep into its wiring and cause serious harm.


Q: What is an alternator?

A: An alternator is a component in a car’s electrical system that helps generate power to charge the battery and run various electrical devices.

Q: How does an alternator work?

A: An alternator works by using the mechanical energy from the engine to rotate a magnet inside a coil of wire. This movement creates an alternating current (AC) that is converted to direct current (DC) to power the car’s electrical system.

Q: What can cause damage to a car alternator?

A: There are several factors that can cause damage to a car alternator, including excessive exposure to water or moisture, a faulty belt, high electrical loads, or faulty wiring.

Q: Can water damage completely destroy an alternator?

A: Yes, if a car alternator is exposed to excessive water or submerged in water for a prolonged period, it can lead to severe damage and may require replacement.

Q: What should I do if my alternator gets wet?

A: If your alternator gets wet, it is recommended to have it inspected by a professional mechanic. They will be able to determine if any damage has occurred and advise the necessary repairs or replacements.

Q: Can I still drive my car if the alternator is damaged?

A: It is not recommended to drive your car with a damaged alternator as it can lead to a drained battery and cause the vehicle to stall or lose power.

Q: How much does it cost to replace a damaged alternator?

A: The cost of replacing a damaged alternator can vary depending on the make and model of your car, as well as the labor costs in your area. On average, it can cost between $200 and $600 for parts and labor.

Conclusion and final thoughts

In conclusion, while it is possible for a car alternator to get wet, it is not recommended as it can cause damage to the electrical components.

It is important to take proper precautions and avoid driving through deep water or exposing the alternator directly to water.

Regular maintenance and checks of the alternator are also crucial in ensuring its longevity and performance.



Vide Polowenski, Senior Mechanic

The information in this article is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest mechanic SOPs.

Please take the time to leave a comment if this article has helped you in any way, you need additional help, or you have a suggestion.

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