Q: How do I tell the difference between an alternator issue and a starter issue?

asked by on January 02, 2017

Just replaced the battery in the truck because it was dead and wouldn't start. After replacing the battery, the lights come on, the doors unlock, etc. The engine turns over but will not "catch". There is no "clicking" sound. The service engine light is on but has been on for over a year. How do I begin to figure out the next step and get an estimate? Is this a potential starter issue or a potential alternator issue?

My car has 100000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Car is not starting Inspection $79.99 - $89.99 Get a Quote

If the starter motor is turning the engine over at adequate RPM, then you definitely do not have a starter motor issue. Even if you had a bad alternator (and the alternator should absolutely be tested, certainly when you install a new battery because you want to be sure the charging function is working properly) that would not prevent the car from starting. So, if the starter is turning the engine over, but the motor won’t run, you have either a fault in the fuel or ignition systems, or the air induction system. To "quickly" determine if it is a fuel system problem, you can try introducing starter fluid into the intake while cranking and if the vehicle starts at that point that would be an indication that you have, at least, inadequate fuel delivery perhaps due to a fuel pump issue. The most efficient approach to getting this resolved is to just simply request a no start diagnostic and the responding certified mechanic will make quick work of this for you. At the conclusion of the diagnostic he will let you know of the fault and the cost to repair. Please let us know how we can best assist you to get your vehicle running properly.

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

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

What others are asking

Engine roar while braking/ stuttering while accelerating

Hi there. If the engine noise is happening only when the car is in forward gear, the issue might be caused by a damaged CV joint or the wheel bearings. However, if you're experiencing this sound while braking, it could...

5r55e transmission issue

Hello. Transmission shifting problems can be caused by a wide variety of issues. A few common causes are issues with the fluid, torque converter. Automatic transmission operate using fluid pressure. If the transmission fluid is dirty or contaminated, or the...

My car cranks but won't start

It appears you have performed a lot of work on your Ford F250. However, the information provided is still limited due to not knowing why these parts were replaced. Knowing if the vehicle was running prior to the replacement of...

burning rubber smell and loud squealing noise but only when pushing the gas pedal?

Hi there. Assuming that you're not smoking your tires, this type of noise and smell is often associated with a worn out serpentine or drive belt, as the squealing noise is caused by the belt being loose and the smell...

can find my key so I tried to start car with my spare and it wont start. Everything in the green all systems work.

Hello, we will be happy to help you out. If you are sure that that spare key has worked in the ignition before then it should work now. Though some keys will lose programming if they sit for long periods...

Throttle Body Relearning

The only addition to the steps you will need to after reconnecting the battery you should turn the key on without starting it and wait for about 30 seconds then start engine and let idle for 10 minutes. Then drive...

Why does my car "skip" when I accelerate from a complete stop

Hi there. Typically when an engine 'skips' it is due to an ignition misfire. All combustion engines have a firing order in which each cylinder is designed to complete the combustion process in a certain order. The "skip" occurs when...

Damaged key chamber

Hi. It sounds like you need to replace the parts that were damaged during the theft attempt. On this vehicle, the exterior door handle must be removed to access and replace the door lock cylinder. A professional, such as one...

Oil pan gasket leaking badly. Is it safe to drive it?

This is a question that could only be answered after an inspection is done to see if the leak is an active heavy leak that may leak out all the oil before getting to where you have to go. The...

Related articles

The Top 5 Selling Cars in Kansas in 2012
Kansas Kansas sees a varied climate with all four seasons, which means drivers in the area choose a variety of vehicles. In years past, some of the front-runners have included the Ford F-150, Buick and Toyota Camry. 2012’s top five...
The Best Used Cars to Buy for Senior Citizens
Everyone Everyone needs a way to get around. You need to get groceries, get to doctors’ appointments, visit with family and more. However, senior citizens have very different needs when it comes to buying a used car than other demographics....
The Best Used Cars to Buy If You Love Road Trips
If If you love to travel, comfort is very important in a vehicle. You want a nice, quiet ride, comfortable seating, and enough room. We have evaluated several used vehicles, and narrowed our favorite road trip vehicles down to the...