How Do You Differentiate a Battery Problem vs. Alternator Problem?

Having a failure to start a car is incredibly annoying. Most people immediately blame their car battery and quickly run to grab their jumper cables. However, problems with car starts can also be traced back to your alternator. To effectively resolve your situation, you'll need to learn the differences between a bad alternator and a bad battery.


While both of these automotive parts are part of your vehicle's electrical system, each of them has its own role and has a particular set of warning signs. 


Bad Battery Symptoms

First and foremost, your car may signal a drained battery when you enter your key and turn the ignition. If you receive a sluggish or choppy engine response, your battery is the culprit. You can jumpstart your vehicle with cables and another automotive battery. But your next stop should be the auto repair shop. However, if you don't get any feedback from your car when turning the ignition, it may already be too late for your battery.


Even without a total battery failure, you may conclude that you have a faulty battery by looking elsewhere. You can see if there is any visible corrosion on the battery's terminals. If there is, then you're probably due for a replacement soon.


Bad Alternator Symptoms

A faulty alternator can be a little more challenging to diagnose. You should generally assume you have alternator issues if your car stalls out a minute or two after successfully starting the engine. Also, you may be able to isolate an alternator problem by utilizing your AM radio and revving the engine. You may have a poor alternator if you hear an engine whine or increased fuzziness on the radio.


Also, a bad alternator can lead to the same signs as battery problems (such as a lack of electrical charge). Given the alternator's part in charging the battery, any issues with its execution can make the battery look questionable. When in doubt, our certified technicians are capable of testing each component to see if either or both parts require replacement.


If you are constantly dealing with car start troubles, please do not hesitate to bring your vehicle to The Detroit Garage. 

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