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

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

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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.


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Chris

21 years of experience
1861 reviews
Chris
21 years of experience
Mini Cooper Clubman - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Silverado, California
He arrived early, went straight to work, and it should have been quoted higher as it’s a Mini which takes longer than the average break job. He didn’t try to get more than the quoted amount. He even set out to replace a running light for me when he was finished. I thought there would hard sales telling me I needed more work but there wasn’t. Because he didn’t try to sell me more work, I will use him again. When I hired a mechanic I don’t want a salesman. 
Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Irvine, California
Chris again has provided great Service. Everything was great. I was very happy with the work and will definitely have him return for any other work.

Bryant

11 years of experience
408 reviews
Bryant
11 years of experience
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Indianapolis, Indiana
Bryant has done great work on my car before, the latest work is no exception. He's very flexible, and goes the extra mile to get you back on the road.
Scion iA - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Carmel, Indiana
This is my first time using this service. I am very happy with it. Bryant was very knowledgeable and did quality work. I will use this service more regularly.

Edmar

21 years of experience
184 reviews
Edmar
21 years of experience
Chrysler 200 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Euless, Texas
Edmar always does a very good job. He's done a few different things on my car the last two years. Each job was performed very fast and top quality. Thank you once again.

Mazyar

7 years of experience
255 reviews
Mazyar
7 years of experience
Jaguar XF - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Lawrenceville, Georgia
He was early, courtesy and actually helped me save some money since i didn't need all the work that i thought i needed done. Honest guy. Very knowledgeable. Great attitude.

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