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Car Won't Start - Battery, Alternator or Starter?

Bad starter... bad battery... or bad alternator?


You’re running late for work and jump in your car knowing that you’ll need to hit all the green lights to make it on time. You put the key in the ignition and turn it…but nothing happens. You try again…still nothing. Not this morning you think; you don’t have time to deal with this.

There is nothing more frustrating than a dead car. When your car won’t start, it is likely a problem with the battery, alternator or starter. But how do you know which part is causing your issue? All these parts work together to power your vehicle so it can be hard to know which part is at fault. Read on to learn some ways to determine where the cause of your problems lies.


The best place to start your investigation is with the battery. Typically lasting 3-5 years, the battery is many times the part that has failed. The easiest and cheapest of the three parts to replace, without a fully charged battery your starter won’t work properly. For more information on troubleshooting battery issues, check out this article. Be on the lookout for these symptoms of a battery that has failed.


How to know if car battery is dead


If you are experiencing any of these issues, your battery likely is at fault. Replacing the battery is something you can do yourself or you can have your trusted mechanic help out. If the battery checks out, it’s time to look at the alternator.


A key part of your vehicle’s charging system, the alternator charges the battery when the engine is running and also powers the electrical system. An alternator typically lasts for 8-12 years, so it isn’t something that has to be replaced as often as other parts like the battery. If your alternator fails, your battery will lose its charge since the alternator won’t be able to keep it charged up. A dead battery is your initial sign that something could be wrong with the alternator. Here are some other symptoms of a bad alternator.


How to know if alternator is bad


If you suspect that the alternator is the issue, it’s time to make an appointment with your mechanic. They’ll be able to make a definitive diagnosis and make the needed repairs. If you still don’t feel like you’ve found the source of the problem, move on the starter.


Responsible for starting the engine when you turn the key or push the start button, the starter draws its power from the battery. It takes that energy to turn over the engine and start the vehicle. Simply put, without a properly functioning starter, you’re going nowhere. 


How to know if starter is bad


If you recognize any of these symptoms in your vehicle, consult your mechanic for the necessary repairs. Your mechanic will also be able to help if you still aren’t sure if your problem is with the battery, alternator or starter.

Learn more about quality car batteries, find your car part, or find where to buy your auto part today.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on 

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