Batteries, Alternators, & Starting
Your vehicles Battery, Alternator or Starter is the most likely thing to leave you stranded when they fail.
” My car won’t star, it just makes a clicking noise“
This is most common complaint when it comes a failed starter. Sometimes the issue is intermittent, allowing you manage to start car sometimes. Other times, the starter will fail without any warning.
The age old trick of tapping the starter with something like a hammer, may help. This trick might work, but your starter is on borrowed time. It is best to get it serviced as soon as possible. You can help extend the life of your starter by:
- Ensure you have clean terminals at the batter and starter
- Avoid contaminates such as oil.
- Periodically inspect the fitment of the starter.
” My car stalled when I was driving. It cranks and starts when someone jumps it, but dies again“
Your vehicles alternator is responsible for charging your cars battery. In addition it provides the electrical energy needed for your vehicle while its running. When your alternator fails, your battery will not be receiving the charge it needs. The electrical systems on your car will quickly deplete the battery and your vehicle will stall.
Often people will mistakenly attempt to jump start the vehicle, only to realize that the vehicle dies as soon as the jumper cables are disconnected or the little bit of charge provided the battery is depleted.
You can help extend the life your alternator by:
- Preventing contaminates from entering the alternator housing. The most common contaminate is oil. This typically happens with adding or refiling engine oil.
- Avoid extreme heat and vibration
- Don’t over work your alternator. Repeatedly recharging drained batteries or trying to power large after market systems can shorten the life an alternator.
” My car is slow to crank” or “My car only starts with a jump“
Two of the most common symptoms of a bad car battery are the vehicle cranking slowly or the vehicle requiring a jump start every, or almost every time. Your vehicles battery has a limited lifespan. As it ages, the ability for the car battery to hold a charge decrease.
The easiest way to ensure you get the full life out your batter is to:
- Avoid discharging the battery, this can be accomplished by not leaving things like the lights on with the car off.
- Make sure corrosion is cleaned off of terminals as soon it appears.
- Keep your battery properly secured. Excessive vibration and shocks from bouncing or sliding in the battery tray can damage the plates in your battery
- Try to limit short rides. Short distances to do not allow the alternator to properly recharge the battery
- Use a battery maintainer if you plan to store your vehicle for an extended period of time. A battery maintainer is designed to keep your car battery properly charge, without risk of over charging.
” My new car battery goes dead over night“
You just purchased a new battery for your vehicle and it goes dead after you have parked it over night. While some may jump to a defective battery or failing alternator, the most common cause is called a parasitic draw.
When a car is turned off, the computer modules and electrical systems that power them and allow them to communicate go to sleep. While a small amount of energy is drawn from the battery, it is not enough to discharge a healthy battery over night. When a module or aftermarket system fails to turn off, it can drain the battery.
How can you determine if this is your problem and how can you avoid being left stranded?
- Start with the basics. Did you leave anything in the vehicle on?
- Make sure the battery is fully charged and get it tested along with your charging system. This will rule out the very unlikely, defective new battery
- Do you have any after market wiring on your vehicle? Stereos, amps, lights, etc. It possible these could be wired in such a way that they are draining your battery.
- If you feel comfortable doing so, you can use a multi-meter to test for a parasitic draw. We have a procedure outlined here
Fixitfor.us provides vehicle repair service throughout West Michigan. We service car, trucks, SUVs and crossovers regardless of manufacture.
Our goal is to provide timely service that comes to you. Everything from routine maintenance to diagnostics and beyond.