How Do I Tell If A Car Battery Or A Car Starter Is Bad?

There’s nothing quite like going to start your automobile only to discover it won’t start.

It always seems to happen when you have to be somewhere, like at work or your appointment across town.

Is your battery truly dead, or is your alternator or starter malfunctioning?

I’ll go over how to examine these systems to figure out what’s causing your problems.

How Do I Tell If A Car Battery Of A Car Starter Is Bad?

1. Start with the battery:

The battery is the most sensible place to start when the automobile won’t start.

Car batteries typically last around 5 years, but under more harsh environmental circumstances, they can survive much less time. It’s extremely typical to discover that your battery has died in the winter.

Check out you are most frequently utilized connections:

  • Was the light on in the ceiling left on?
  • Were the headlights turned on during the night?

After you’ve switched off these, try starting the car again. You may need to jump the battery to get it functioning again. If you can jump your car and keep it going, that’s great.

Take a look at the battery itself:

  • Are the connectors rusted or appear to be damaged?
  • Do the cables seem to be frayed?

If you’ve lately experienced a battery issue, these factors may have contributed to it. Your car’s battery is usually positioned beneath the hood, although certain models have the battery put in the trunk.

If you’re not sure where to start, examine your owner’s handbook for any battery-related information.

2. Test the Alternator:

A dead vehicle battery might be one of the earliest signs of an alternator problem. If the battery appears to be in good operating order after reading the section above, the most likely cause of the problem is the alternator.

There are a couple of different ways to test this to see if there is an 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 telltale 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.

There may be a few warning indicators that should be noted before failure. You’ll probably hear a growling sound, smell burning rubber inside your car, and observe your lights dimming or brightening dramatically.

Check out our Car Brake Services page for further information if you feel your alternator is failing.

3. The Starter:

Your car starter performs a critical function regularly.

The battery provides a burst of energy to the starter, which utilizes it to start the automobile and turn the engine over. You have a starting problem if you put the key in the ignition and only hear a click when you crank the key.

This sound is quite similar to the sound the car makes when the battery is dead, thus if your battery isn’t bad, you may confidently conclude this sound is coming from the starter.

Signs Of A Dead Car Battery

Let’s start with this because it’s the cheapest and easiest to replace.

Is there a clicking sound when you try to start the car, but it won’t turn over? That might be a good thing.

A dead battery is most likely the culprit if jump-starts the automobile but it won’t turn over once it’s turned off.

  • 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.

Signs of a Bad Starter:

  • If you hear a clicking sound when you turn off the key
  • Turning the keys in the ignition but instead of starting the vehicle the dash lights come on
  • If you jump-start the vehicle, it does not turn over at all
  • If you notice the vehicle cranks very slowly and turn over very weakly

Signs of a Bad Alternator:

  • Before dying, there is a growling or wailing sound.
  • Dim or flickering headlights and interior lights, or a fade between dim and exceptionally bright.
  • The car can be started by jumping it, but the engine dies practically quickly.
  • On your dashboard, a ‘GEN’ or battery light is on.
  • A dead battery that has no obvious cause.

A faulty alternator is the most likely culprit if your car exhibits these symptoms. If they don’t match the problems with your car, you could have a defective starter.

Final Words

Nothing is more annoying than a dead car. If your car won’t start, the fault is most likely with the battery or starter.

But how can you determine which component is the source of your problem?

This is why every car owner needs to know where is the problem. And if it’s the battery or the starter.

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