Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Starter or Car Battery: How to Diagnose Which Part is Bad?

starter bad

You have places to go and things to do and problems with your vehicle can keep you from being where you want to be when you need to be there. If you’ve ever gotten up, had breakfast, and then headed out to your car only to discover that when you turn the key, nothing happens, your whole day can be ruined.

You need to find out why your car won’t start. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a dead car battery. Alternatively, it could be the starter. Rarely, it could be an indication of a serious engine problem. How can you diagnose which part is bad? There are some things you can try before consulting a mechanic.

Don't assume the worst

It’s pretty obvious – if your car engine won’t turn over, try turning the key again. See what happens on our dashboard. Look at your gauges. Maybe you’re just out of gas – it happens. If that’s not the case, try to turn the car on again, and listen to what happens. Does the engine seem to be trying to turn over, or are you just getting a clicking or grinding sound? You could have a bad car starter, or dirty spark plugs.

Bad car battery

People tend to assume that all the components of their vehicle are going to work properly, but the fact is that the battery is likely to be the first thing to go. Check your battery terminals for corrosion. Clean them up with steel wool or a wire brush, and then try to start your car again. If it still doesn’t work, it could be the starter.

Bad starter

A bad starter actually sounds quite a lot like a dead battery – you turn the key, and all you hear is a click. It might not be the entire starter, though – it could be a weak component known as the solenoid. It prevents the starter from creating the correct current to start your car.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Flexible Clutch Hose
Common signs include difficulty shifting, low clutch fluid, and feeling no resistance at the clutch pedal.
P0222 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input
P0222 code definition Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input What the P0222 code means The manufacturer specifies a range of acceptable voltage to be produced from the throttle position...
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...


Related questions

Q: Alternator connector burnt through after rear strut replacement.

Hey there, I don't think that the alternator failure is related to your brake job. It sounds like the alternator may have developed an internal short that was unrelated to the brake repair. I recommend having a certified technician, such...

Q: Need to know what I need to put a 390 into my truck which is efi setup

The two engines have different bell housings for the transmission. The mounts are different. The fuel pump is not compatible with the carburetor. The wire harness and ignition system are different. You may even have a transmission cross member location...

Q: Where is the starter on a 2008 Lexus GS350

The starter on this engine is on the left side of engine next to the oil pan near the transmission.