Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Car starts but acts like it doesn't want to

asked by on

Car will start but takes a minute. When I does start it runs sluggish and almost dies while driving. Battery, ABS, and air bag light are all on while car is started. Gas gauge does not work.

My car has 80000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Hey there. This sounds like a faulty altern...

Hey there. This sounds like a faulty alternator. Use a multi-meter to test the alternator’s output voltage. Good alternators test in the range of 13.8-14.2 volts and make sure to use the 20 volt setting, or you could receive a false reading. You can pick up a multi-meter at your local parts store. If your alternator fails or this is not your issue, I would recommend enlisting the help of a qualified mechanic. Going too long on a bad alternator can damage a battery.

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: Car battery was installed backwards - 2005 Scion xA

Hello. The transmission is locked out of gear because the car doesn't "know" your foot is on the brake. You need to change the other fuses and get those brake lights working again, and then when the brake safety switch...

Q: How long does it take to install an alternator in a 1982 Toyota Tercel

Hello, thank you for writing in. An alternator replacement typically takes around an hour. This is dependent of course on the condition of the old unit and how difficult it is to remove. The tools needed are fairly basic. The...

Q: What precautions should you take with the air bags?

Air bags provide substantial safety benefits, but they’re not without their own risks. They inflate very quickly, and they can cause injury if you’re sitting too close or not sitting properly in the seat. Here’s what you should know about...

Related articles

How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.