For the past 2 weeks my battery light has been flickering when ever the engine is turned on. It happens pretty constantly. about every 10 minutes or so, the power seems to cut out for half of a second, Not the engine, but all the lights. Whilst this happens the gauges on my dashboard drop and then shoot all the way up for about 5 seconds then go back to normal. I am planning to be going on a road trip next month so I would want this to be fixed asap. If it's something I can personally fix then that's amazing.
A bad alternator or battery is by far worse case scenario. When troubleshooting you should always start with the easiest and/or cheapest solution. These are more than often the culprits anyways, so best to save time and money.
- Check if there is a date sticker on the top of your battery. If it is more than 3 years old, have it tested.
- A visual check of your positive and negative battery cable should be first after the above, best part is it's free! You are looking for corrosion where the cable meets the battery (White dust on cable at the battery). If the cables have white dust on them, then the ends of the cables and the battery post need to be cleaned. A wire brush will do for cleaning. DO NOT BREATH IN DUST while cleaning. They sell $2 battery terminal cleaners at ever auto parts store as well.
- If cables and battery are clean, then you should make sure everything is tight. Try to move the cables at the battery, they should be firmly attached. Then follow the cables to their respective opposite ends. Start at the top near the battery and follow cables to other end. Check for a loose connection. If loose tighten. Take care when using metal tools on the Positive cable, you can ground the battery out or worse. Only touch the bolt you are tightening on the Positive side. The negative side doesn't matter. Red is positive, black is negative.
- If everything is clean and tight you should move on to the fuse box. Make sure none of the fuses are loose. Touch the tops with your finger and try to wiggle.
If all the basics pass the test, then go to any major auto parts chain and have them run a load test on your battery in addition to a charging test on the alternator. These can both be done with the parts still on your car in the parking lot. Takes about 8 minutes. No need to go to an "auto-electrician", again this is overkill and worse case.
Personally fix? Ready to be amazed?
You can easily fix any issue with your car with the wealth of knowledge available on the net and YouTube. Alternators are relatively easy to change. If you need tools go to Google Maps and type "Harbor Freight", then go there. Their hand tools are pretty good, are better than auto parts store tools and have a lifetime warranty. Go get you some tools with the money you save by fixing your own car.
I would say your alternator is dying. You could also have a suspect battery but either could be easily tested at an auto-electrician (hopefully for free).
If you have a multimeter then you could test the alternator output yourself.
The alternator should be powering the car and instruments when running, so given this is a symptom when the car is running, then I am going to bet the alternator is not delivering the right voltage, or at least not reliably.
This will aid you for further reading: