A car battery is an essential part of your vehicle. Without the battery, your car won’t start. And apart from the ignition, the battery helps with some other functions such as supporting lights and car radio.
This means to have your car performing at its best, you will need a car battery to always be in the right condition. But sometimes, it’s not always the battery. If the car starter is bad, the ignition won’t work.
So, how do I tell if a car battery or a car starter is bad?
In this article, we’ll share with you simple ways to determine whether a car battery or start is bad. Follow these guides to find out and fix the issue.
Step 1: Inspect the Battery performance
Car batteries have a lifespan. Most of them last for about 5 years. But sometimes, they don’t see the five-year duration depending on the conditions they are subjected to. That also means that sometimes your battery can get damaged even before its lifespan expires.
When you attempt to start your car listen if you can hear any clicking sound. If you hear any clicking sound but the car won’t start, it could be because the battery has run out of power. The best thing you can do is jump start it.
However, later try and start the car without jump starting. If it works, then this means the battery is okay and it was just drained. But if the car doesn’t start then the battery could be damaged. You might need to replace it.
- Check to see if you left the vehicle’s interior or exterior lights on, or if a door didn’t close completely. If the problem isn’t caused by the lights, open the hood and inspect the battery connections.
- If you see corrosion (a white powdery material) on the terminals, a short scrape with a toothbrush and some baking soda solution may be all you need to reconnect them.
- Is there still a problem? Consider the age of the battery. An automobile battery has a life expectancy of about 4-5 years. If your battery is less than four years old and you have no other problems, get it checked out as soon as possible.
If the battery is okay but the car won’t start, check the alternator.
Step 2: Inspect the Alternator
If the battery is okay, but the car won’t start, then a bad alternator could be another reason why your car won’t start. Here’s are simple ways to test if the alternator is the issue.
- Start your car and let it idle for a while. Unplug the positive connector from the battery while it is operating. If the automobile comes to a halt, the alternator is malfunctioning. The positive connection is highlighted in red, whereas the negative connection is highlighted in black.
- Keep an eye on the dashboard lights to see if they flicker or fade in and out. This is another sign of alternator problems.
If you try to test the alternator by disconnecting the negative cable while the car is running, your vehicle’s electrical system will be damaged.
Here are some signs of a bad alternator:
- Whining or growling sound before the battery dies
- Burning rubber smell which indicates overheating or the wires in the alternator are burning
- Interior and exterior lights dimming
- Gauges behaving fun
- Can start after jumping but the battery dies immediately
- Battery light staying lit on the dashboard
However, if after checking out all these signs and you can’t see any, then the starter could be the issue. You should check it.
Step 3: Inspect the Starter
If the battery and alternator are working perfectly, then inspect the starter. It’s main role is start the engine. It’s powered by your battery. But if you hear a crank after trying to ignite the car, then the starter could be the issue.
To know that the starter is the problem, check out the following signs.
- Clicking sound when you turn the key
- Dash lights come on but the ignition doesn’t start
- Your car cranks slowly
If you notice any of these signs then the starter is to blame. Check it out and get it fixed.
When you can start, it could be because of the batteries, alternator, or starter. So, to find out the problem, start by inspecting the battery, the alternator, and then the starter. Fix the problem. But if all three things are okay, then you might need to get help from a mechanic. They will give you a good diagnosis of your car.