When you’re experiencing some trouble starting your car, it can be challenging to tell whether the problem is a bad battery or an alternator issue. Before you head over to the auto repair shop, there are a few checks you can make to determine the culprit. Here’s a guide to distinguishing between the two similar problems.
How to Determinate a Bad Battery or Faulty Alternator
1. Assess Your Battery
There are a few major warning signs that will tip you off that your battery is the problem. First, try to remember when the last time was that you replaced it. If it’s been more than a few years, its capacity for charge may have become much lower. Similarly, if the weather is cold, you’re more likely dealing with a dead battery since the low temperatures often sap the charge.
2. Think Back to Right Before the Stoppage
Have you noticed any headlight issues lately? When the alternator is failing, you may notice that your headlights gleam when you go faster but then almost completely fade as you come to a stop. Another tipoff is if you heard an awkward grinding noise before your car stopped—that means your alternator is under severe stress and likely the cause of the issue.
3. Jumpstart the Car
If you’re stuck with a stalled car, you’ll need to jumpstart it to drive to the auto repair shop. This process will also clue you into the real culprit behind the stoppage. When the jumpstart works and you’re able to drive off with no problem, it means the battery is the issue. In that case, the alternator is appropriately feeding the battery enough charge. But if your car starts and then abruptly dies, it means the alternator is the problem, and not transferring the charge back to the battery.
If you believe your alternator or battery is shot, it’s best to get in touch with a trusted auto repair shop like Estep Tire & Auto Center in Bluefield, WV, as soon as possible. In business since 1990, the family-owned company helps with everything from automotive repair to maintenance checks like battery charging and tire rotation. You can get in touch with the veteran staff by calling (304) 325-9134. Learn more about the auto repair shop by visiting their website.