Johnson City Auto Repair

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Is it the Battery, Starter or Alternator?

Batery Test

Okay, so your car won’t start but what’s wrong? Is it the battery, starter or alternator? Our technicians at Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City can figure it out and fix it. The reliability of your vehicle is so crucial to everything you do. When you bring it to us, you’ll know the work we do is always done right the first time.

The battery, starter and charging systems, including the alternator, work together in your car so sometimes it’s not easy to tell right away which one may be malfunctioning. So, let’s take a look how the battery, alternator, and starter function and how to tell which one is causing the problem with your car.

The Starter

Your car’s starter does exactly that, it starts the engine. The battery sends the starter a jolt of electricity. Your car’s starter component takes the electricity and uses it to turn the engine over. Now the engine is started.

What happens when the starter doesn’t work?

  • You will hear a clicking sound when you turn the key
  • The engine won’t turn over, but the dash lights will still be lit
  • Trying to jump start your vehicle won’t get the engine to turn on

The Battery

You should replace your car battery about every four to five years. It just can’t hold a charge for much longer than that. When you drive, the battery is being recharged by the car’s alternator. But the battery’s internal metal parts begin to corrode, which reduces its ability to hold a charge. A good battery is important because it provides the power to the starter and your vehicle’s electrical system.

What happens when the battery doesn’t work?

  • When you try to start the car, you will hear a low whining sound
  • Sometimes a jump start will get the engine going but as soon as you turn off the engine again, it won’t start back up. This means the alternator is doing what it is supposed to, keep the battery going once it has started, but the battery isn’t able to hold a charge.

The Alternator

If everything is working except the alternator, the battery will still lose its charge because the alternator can’t keep it charged.

What happens when the alternator doesn’t work?

  • Right before your alternator fails, you might hear a growling sound
  • As your alternator overheats, you may notice a smell of burning rubber or hot wires
  • Sometimes your headlights or your dash lights flicker or get extra dim or bright
  • Your gauges may act weird
  • When you jump start your car and it starts, but the engine quickly dies then it is probably the alternator that is not working

When your car won’t start, you try to figure out is it the battery, starter or alternator can be an easy call once you know how everything works. You can also bring it into our ASE-certified technicians at Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City. We will figure out which component is causing the trouble and repair it. That way, you can be confident that your car will start and not leave you stranded.


Auto Repair
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