A majority of car owners have seen bad car days when they have put the key in the ignition just to find that the car is not starting. The first thought that comes to mind at that time is to identify the culprit, which probably is the battery or alternator in most instances. The real troublemaker has to be pinpointed first and only then can the problem be resolved. Here are a few tips to help you to verify whether the battery or alternator is at fault:
Checking The Car Battery
- Start by checking the dashboard battery gauge to find out whether the battery is sending a charge even when the car is switched off. A dim, flickering light indicates that the battery power is being used up by something.
- Next, check the commonly used connections such as the windshield wipers, automatic window openers, and brake lights. Turn them off and then try to start the car again.
- In case it fails to start, wipe the corrosion from the battery with a rag. Try using a jump starter to get it started and run the motor for a while and then turn the car off. If it doesn’t get restarted, this indicates that the alternator is working and keeping the battery operational while the motor is running. The problem is actually with the battery as it is unable to retain the charge without the alternator’s aid.
One thing to bear in mind while evaluating the battery’s performance is the time it was installed. Typically, a car battery needs to be replaced every three to four years and if your battery has been installed before that, it might be having issues. With age, it loses its capacity to retain a charge due to the corrosion of the metal inside. This is the time when you have to think about buying a battery for your car. You can buy it from any nearest battery retailer/supplier or order it online from an online battery store.
Checking The Alternator
Once the battery is checked and no problem is identified with it, you must have a closer look at the alternator.
- Notice the brightness of the interior lights as you run the car. The alternator is considered to be at fault in case the dashboard dims gradually.
- Check the headlights too. If they run brighter on accelerating, then the alternator is keeping the battery charged adequately.
- A growling sound is usually a sign of a faltering alternator. Other symptoms such as the odor of burning rubber and hot wires also indicate overheating of the alternator.
- The working of the alternator can be tested by running the engine while having the negative battery cable disconnected. However, this method is generally not recommended as it can damage the car’s electrical system.
Alternator replacement is an expensive job as compared to battery replacement.You will have to spend a considerable amount to buy an alternator for your car. Therefore, it is important to ensure the exact problem is pinpointed before taking any action. The right solution can save you the expenses as well as keep your car in a great condition.