The alternator and voltage regulator are essential car parts. When the car is running, the alternator produces a voltage that powers all electrical components, including lights, instrument panes, radio, and AC.
The voltage regulator controls and stabilizes this power from the alternator to ensure constant and the right amount of DC voltage.
However, in some instances, the voltage regulator can fail to regulate the vehicle’s voltage. Some power issues caused by a faulty voltage regulator include lights becoming dim or flickering, faulty high-beam headlights, engine stutters and stalls, dead battery, check the battery, or engine light coming on.
A simple bypass can resolve these problems. Here’s a guide on a voltage regulator bypass:
- Open the car’s front engine hood and ensure the engine is cold before working. Hand gloves can help prevent burning when the engine is hot.
- Next, disconnect both battery terminals to block power in the car. This step will also disengage the voltage regulator from the power source.
- Locate the voltage regulator, which is usually attached to the vehicle’s computer panel for new car models. Look out for a rectangular socket with wires that connect to the alternator.
- The socket has four wires, two of them connected to the alternator. Usually, two wires (red and black) connect the voltage regulator to power, and the other two (green or yellow and black) to the alternator. Cut off the green or yellow wire and isolate it with taping.
Bypassing with an external voltage regulator
Ideally, it would be best to bypass the regulator with a new voltage regulator since it serves a critical purpose in the car.
- Mount the external voltage regulator securely on the inner fender using bolt screws.
- Connect the green wire from the alternator to the bottom of the new voltage regulator.
- Identify a 12V key switch to fix a fuse in the bottom slot of the switch box.
- Connect the red wire of the voltage regulator to the fuse and the black wire to any grounding within the car.
- The external voltage regulator bypass should be functional now.
Is it safe to bypass the voltage regulator?
It is unsafe to bypass the voltage regulator. This device ensures that the car’s operating voltage is within safe levels. Typically, the voltage regulator controls the alternator’s output at a steady charging voltage of 13.5V-14.5V.
At this voltage, the vehicle’s electrical components, including the instrument cluster, radio, and headlights, function properly.
What happens if you bypass the voltage regulator?
Without the voltage regulator, the alternator could produce uncontrollable voltage levels that can overload the vehicle’s electrical components and circuits.
High voltages above 16V will overcharge the battery, potentially damaging it. Also, without the voltage regulator, the car’s engine is likely to stall, and a battery warming light illuminates the dashboard.
You can also notice flickering headlights due to unchecked power from the alternator.
Additionally, the car’s electrical circuit would be susceptible to voltage and current spikes that damage wires.
Advantages of bypassing the voltage regulator on an alternator
There is no advantage to bypassing a voltage regulator. It might be possible to charge the battery faster; however, the risk of damage is high. Always ensure you replace the regulator or bypass using an external regulator.
Here are some of the issues resulting from bypassing the voltage regulator
- Little or excess power can be directed to the battery. Low voltage and the battery won’t charge and will be discharged as its powers the electrical components, and the vehicle will not start. Too much power and the battery will overcharge, damaging it.
- Erratic engine performance. Incorrect voltages interfere with the functioning of the ignition system and fuel pump, which can cause poor and unpredictable engine performance.
- Flickering and dimming lights. This is the most common issue from bypassing the voltage regulator since the alternator fails to maintain a consistent voltage.
- Battery and engine lights can illuminate. These issues from uncontrollable voltage can cause these dashboard lights to activate.
- The engine shuts off. The car will stop running when it doesn’t get enough power from the alternator.
- Inconsistent operation of electrical components. Lacking a voltage regulator causes unpredictable and unreliable performance of systems such as AC, radio, and car lights
A faulty voltage regulator can cause several inconveniences. Since the device controls the alternator voltage output, the car’s electrical components such as radio, headlights, and instrument cluster are likely to misbehave when it malfunctions.
A voltage regulator bypass can solve these issues; ideally, the bypass should be through an external voltage regulator. Without a regulator, the alternator can produce high voltages that damage the battery and electrical circuits and cause erratic engine performance.
You should take your car to a professional to diagnose and repair issues with the voltage regulator.