Starting & Charging
If your car won’t start, your car battery might not necessarily be the reason. The starter, alternator, and spark plugs could also be the culprit. The car battery provides the power that starts the engine and smaller parts like the lights and windshield wipers. The starter may fail due to electrical or mechanical problems, making your vehicle difficult or unable to start at all. If it’s your alternator that’s not working correctly, you may notice small things like headlights or interior lights that dim and brighten at random. It may affect other electrical parts of your car as well. Our professional mechanics will look into and electrical issues your vehicle is experiencing and fix the problem by repairing or replacing the affected part.
Starting & charging systems
How it Works
In addition to the car battery, there are two other major components to your vehicle’s starting and charging system. And these two components must be in good working order for your vehicle to start and run properly. When you turn the ignition key, you are actually turning on the starter, which then cranks the engine. When a starter isn’t working correctly, the engine may start with great difficulty, or not at all. Starter problems may be due to electrical/mechanical failure or outright breakage.
The alternator carries out two important tasks. It recharges your battery while the vehicle is running to keep it at peak starting power. The alternator also works with your battery as a team to operate electrical components, such as headlights, windshield wipers, and more. A malfunctioning alternator can cause electrical components to operate erratically, or even cause your engine to suddenly stop running.
What to Watch For
If you experience battery trouble, there are a couple of things you may want to check before calling for service. Be sure the battery is properly secured. Vibration caused by an unsecured battery can affect battery life. The cables to the battery terminals must be clean and tightly connected. Buildup of corrosive elements on the terminals can seriously weaken starting power. Be sure the side terminals aren’t over-tightened as well.
Batteries, Starting & Charging FAQs
Q: How do I know if my battery is dead?
A: Actually, let’s back up a step. If your car cranks more slowly than usual, have it tested. That way, you can help prevent your car battery from dying and leaving you stranded.
Q: Can a car battery freeze?
A: Yes, while it is rare, it does happen. In most cases extreme cold (or heat) can shorten a battery’s life, but it will likely not freeze.
Q: Is there a way to know if my car battery terminals are working properly?
A: Absolutely. We call that a voltage drop test.
Q: My car won’t start, but it’s not the battery. What can it be?
A: When you start your car, the first sound you’ll hear is the starter. This process is also called cranking, dating back to brass-era cars in the late 1800s and 1900s that had to be literally cranked by hand. Just a fun fact for you. So back to your question: If you’re trying to start your car, and you don’t hear anything, the problem could be your starter, cable or a locked-up engine. If you do hear the “RaRaRa” noise, but the engine isn’t starting, it could literally be due to thousands of reasons.
Q: The car battery light came on, but my car seems fine. What could cause this?
A: If your car battery is holding a charge when tested, and you’ve ruled out an electrical short, your alternator is likely on the outs.
Q: My car had trouble starting on a really hot day. I thought batteries only had trouble when it was really cold?
A: Extreme heat (or cold) can shorten a car battery’s life, but as long it’s a one-time thing, you should be fine. If it starts happening more frequently, bring your car by for a quick inspection.
Q: My battery has a lot of corrosion. Does this mean I need a new battery?
A: Not to worry. Corrosion is quite common, so car batteries should be cleaned and serviced regularly.
Q: If my car didn’t start and required a jump, does that mean my battery needs to be replaced?
A: Not necessarily. It may not be your battery at all. It could be your alternator. But if you find yourself needing frequent battery jumps, it’s a good idea to bring your car in for an inspection.
Q: How long does a car battery typically last?
A: Typically a car battery lasts three to five years, but it depends on the way you drive, the weather and other factors.