Fall is a great time of year to check your battery health. In this blog, we’ll discuss how to check your car battery health and give you some pointers to see if it’s in good shape. The battery is in good condition if the voltage is between 12.4 and 12.7 volts. Here are a few ways to check battery health:

  • Utilizing a voltmeter, connect it to your battery.
  • Drop by your local parts supplier and they will most likely provide a free test.
  • Ask your auto repair specialist to check it.

Symptoms of an Unhealthy Battery

Sometimes a battery may be run down because a light was left on. In this case, a simple jump may set you back on track. If the cranking of the engine is sluggish (like when your vehicle is harder to start on cold mornings), starts inconsistently, or there is no sound or interior lights when you try to start it, you may be dealing with a failing battery.

Learn how to properly jump a battery: Click Here

What to do if Your Battery Is Not the Problem

If your battery has been tested and has plenty of life left but your car won’t start, you might have a bigger problem on your hands. There are two components that might be an issue: the starter or the alternator.

Let’s look at what each one of these components does, and how to tell when something goes wrong and if so how to fix it.

Starter

What does it do?

Your starter is a small electric motor that, when engaged, cranks the vehicle’s engine to get it running.

How do I know if it’s not working?

Typically, if there is a problem with the starter, you will just hear a faint clicking sound when you turn the key (as opposed to a cranking engine). Another giveaway is if the rest of your electrical components are working normally (radio, headlights, dashboard lights, etc.). This means your battery is probably fine, and your starter is most likely at fault.

How do I fix it?

While a quick Google search might reveal a handful of “DIY” remedies for a failing starter, if you do not know what you are doing, you might cause more harm than good. Our advice: If your starter is bad, it is most likely going to need to be repaired or replaced by a reputable auto repair shop.

Alternator

What does it do?

While the vehicle is running, a working alternator will generate power to the battery, which keeps it fully charged at all times. Like any auto part, alternators do not last forever. However, it is not uncommon for an alternator to last upwards of 10 to 15 years without issue.

How do I know if it is not working?

In modern vehicles, there is a clear indicator light on your dashboard that will show when your alternator is having issues. It may be shaped like a battery, or it could just be the letters “ALT” (alternator) or “GEN” (generator). You might also notice that your headlights or dashboard lights start to dim. Also, if you are constantly having to jump start your vehicle, that may be an indication that the alternator is not doing its job of keeping your battery fully charged.

How do I fix it?

It’s best to have a licensed repair shop diagnose any issues with the alternator and handle any repairs that you need. These procedures are complex and best left to the experts.