How to tell the difference between a bad battery and a bad alternator

When your car doesn't start up in the morning when you're on the way to work, you're probably thinking that your battery is dead. Did you leave your headlights on overnight, or is it completely out of the blue? Regardless, you'll definitely not be starting the day off on the right foot.

Time and time again, we've had people come into our shop after already replacing their car battery and still finding that their vehicle won't start up or stay running. Typically, this is because the issue wasn't with the car battery in the first place - the problem was actually the alternator. What is the alternator and what does it do?

While the car battery is essentially to generate the power needed to get your vehicle started up and running, it is actually the alternator that helps recharge the battery as your car runs. If the alternator is faulty, your battery will fail to stay charged.

Here are a few symptoms that can point to alternator problems:

  • Car won't start
  • Engine stalls
  • Electrical component issues such as power windows, locks, and radio
  • Dim headlights

Here are a few symptoms that can point to battery problems:

  • Car won't start
  • You hear clicking noises when you try to ignite the engine
  • Corroded battery terminals
  • Engine turns over slowly

While some of the symptoms can be similar for either issue, both will typically have you stranded without a working car. So, how can you tell if the issue is with the battery or alternator? The solution is to bring your vehicle to our shop for testing. We can run tests to see if the battery is dead or if the problem is with the alternator charging the system. This is really the only way to know the difference, and the most cost-effective way to repair your vehicle.

So if you need an alternator or battery replacement, bring your car to our auto repair shop today!

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