Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Battery & airbag lights come on and SUV won't start

asked by on

For a minute after starting my SUV yesterday, the battery and airbag lights stayed on and were flickering (didn’t blink steadily). After driving for a few minutes, the lights were off. Eight hours later my SUV started with no problems, so I drove 10 minutes to a store. After that, it wouldn’t start - nothing. It had a click and bit of engine noise, but nothing else. Tried again - just a click. (I’m thinking the solenoid trying to work.) I got it jump-started and it started. Then, I let it run for 10 full minutes and then drove 5 minutes home. The Check Engine Light came solidly on and the AirBag light too. I shut off the vehicle and tried starting again - nothing. I’m now thinking it’s the battery, but what if it’s the alternator, or a short… Is there a clear way to know if it’s the alternator?

If you said the Check Engine Light came on, I would recommend starting there. Have a qualified mechanic pull the codes from your Chevrolet Tracker using an OBD2 scanner. Any codes found will lead the mechanic in the right direction towards resolving the problem. A couple ways to determine if the alternator is faulty would be to either use a digital multimeter connected to the battery to test alternator output or disconnect the negative battery cable while the engine is running.

For the first test, the multimeter should read 14 volts while connected to the battery and the engine is running. If it does not, the alternator may have an issue. The old style method of checking the alternator is to simply remove the negative battery cable while the engine is running. If the engine stays running, the alternator is good. IF the engine dies, the alternator has failed. For best results, have a qualified mechanic inspect the starting problem for you, since this issue deals with the vehicle’s electrical system.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Headlights don't shine light on outer sides

From the sounds of things, the screw that adjusts the right-to-left movement of the headlights may be seized and of become stuck. If it does not easily loosen, than do not force it, as it can damage the bolt and...

Q: Noise when put into reverse

Hello. Loud noises when putting the vehicle into gear can be caused by many things. A few common causes are worn transmission or motor mounts, low transmission fluid, or internal transmission issues. I would also check to make sure that...

Q: would fuel system cleaning gas fuel injection cause service engine soon light to come on?

Hi there. Sometimes certain fuel injector cleaners can aggressively remove carbon deposits from sensors and cause a service light to illuminate but it is very rare. What is more likely is that the service light came on due to the...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...