We’ve all been there. You try to start up the car to go to work in the morning and nothing happens. Why isn’t your car starting? The most common issue is either a dead battery or a faulty alternator. Both have similar symptoms but there are ways to determine which one is to blame for your frustrating car troubles.
Signs of Battery Problems
The common signs of battery problems include:
- No sound or lights when starting the vehicle
- Clicking sound when turning the key
- The engine turns over slowly
- Weaker than normal headlights
- The need to place your foot on the gas pedal to start the car
- Sudden, slower start
- Headlights and power, but no start
- No radio
- Check engine light is on
- Swollen battery size
- Odd smells
- Old battery (not sure when you got it? Have an expert take a look)
If you think the battery is dead or is starting to die, the next step is to jump start your vehicle. If the car starts up, the battery was to blame. Have it tested to see how much juice it has left and if it should be replaced.
Signs of Alternator Issue
If the jump start doesn’t do anything, or your car isn’t displaying the above signs of battery failure, a faulty alternator could be the culprit.
Signs of an alternator issue include:
- Problems with the electronics system
- Car stalls after it starts
- Growling or whining noises coming from under the hood
- Smell of rubber or burning wires
- Flickering headlights
- Dim or overly bright lights
- Slow or malfunctioning accessories
- Alternator warning light is on
- Trouble starting or frequent stalling
- Battery warning light on dashboard
If any of the above issues are happening to you, and your car isn’t starting or it stalls after a jump start, the alternator may be to blame because it’s not doing its job of recharging your battery. Your best bet is to bring your vehicle to a trusted mechanic for an alternator inspection so they can troubleshoot the issue and fix the problem before it worsens.
If you see that the battery warning sign on your dashboard has lit up, it doesn’t always indicate a battery problem. It could also mean you have an issue with your vehicle’s electrical system. Keep in mind, the battery warning light will turn on if the voltage for your alternator falls below capacity.
The battery in your car offers an electrical charge that makes it possible to start it. Once your car has started, the alternator sends back an electrical current, which charges your battery while the car is running. This charge also powers all of your car’s electronics.
If your car isn’t starting up, it’s critical to get it serviced right away. Whether it’s a battery or an alternator issue, getting it looked at immediately will help keep your car running and help you prevent costly damage.
Other Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start
There are other less common reasons why your car won’t start. Those include:
- Clogged fuel filter: When clogged, gas can’t reach the engine, making it tough for your car to burn fuel. You should have your fuel filters changed regularly, usually every 20,000 to 30,000 miles.
- Defective ignition switch: If your battery is working properly, yet your car doesn’t turn over, it could be a problem with the ignition switch.
- Faulty starter: Your starter is basically an electrical motor connected up to the battery responsible for setting the engine in motion when the ignition is switched on. When there’s a problem with the starter, the engine won’t crank properly, if at all. Do you hear a clicking noise? A weakened or broken starter could be to blame.
- Empty gas tank: It may sound obvious, but no gas = no start.
It’s impossible to know sometimes what the culprit really is. That’s why you should get a professional to diagnose the issue and treat it. While the above tips are meant as a guide, it’s always a good idea to get the issue checked out quickly. This will ensure minimal disruption to your daily life. After all, you need your car to get here and there!
Contact Rick and Ray’s Auto Plaza
Our qualified team can inspect your vehicle and get to the root of the problem. To schedule an appointment for service or to get a free quote, contact us in Fort Worth at 844-942-0164. Our auto electrical services include alternator repair, battery service, hybrid battery service, and spark plug replacement.