How to Tell the Difference Between a Bad Battery or Alternator

It can be extremely frustrating when your vehicle won't start. And unfortunately, there are a variety of issues that can cause a car to have problems starting, including loose connection cables, a broken starter, a bad alternator, or even a dead or dying battery. Figuring out the root cause of your car's starting problems can be difficult, but there are some useful clues you can use to determine the most likely culprit.

Why Does a Bad Alternator or Battery Make My Car Not Start?

To make your car start, your battery pushes a huge electric charge through your car's starting system. As you drive, the alternator generates electrical charges and sends them back to the battery to charge it. When your battery or alternator is broken, it causes this necessary process to fail: a dead battery won't start the alternator, and a bad alternator won't charge the battery.

Symptoms of a Bad Alternator

Aside from your car's failure to start, there are some key symptoms you can look for to determine if a failing alternator might be the cause of your car's problems. These symptoms include poor or glitchy stereo system output, dim lights, and your car stalling for no clear reason. If you hear a squealing sound coming from under the hood that gets louder when you use the sound or heating systems, your alternator bearings may be failing.

Symptoms of a Dying Battery

While it might seem difficult to diagnose a dead or dying battery, it's actually extremely simple to do. To start, you should determine if some of the most common symptoms are present, including sluggish car startup, a lack of sound and interior lights when starting the car, and a clicking sound when turning your car's key. You can confirm whether the battery is dying by attempting to jumpstart your car. If your car works fine when someone else is able to provide a starting electrical current, you can assume the issue is that your battery isn't able to provide the same charge when starting.

Repair Your Battery or Alternator Today

If your battery or alternator is failing, it's important to address the issue as soon as possible by taking your car in and having the part replaced. Once you've replaced your faulty alternator or battery, you'll have no problems getting back on the road and driving like you always do. If you need a battery or alternator repair, we invite you to bring your vehicle into our auto repair shop today!

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