Almost all of us have experienced the problem where either your car battery or alternator just conks out, and you can’t make out which one to replace. Its not easy finding out exactly which part of your car is giving you the trouble, but here are a few tips by which you can find out whether you have car battery problems or alternator problems.
Check Your Battery First
Start by checking your battery first. In cold weather, it’s very common to have a dead battery that just won’t start. Check the battery gauge on the dashboard to make out if the battery is sending a charge even when you have switched off the car. If there is a dim flickering light, then it means that something is using up power from the battery. You can then proceed to check the connections you commonly use, like the automatic window openers, windshield wipers and the brake lights. Switch them all off and try the battery again. Clean off any corrosion and check to see whether the battery will charge up again. Then check the battery voltage with a voltmeter. It should read close to 12.6 volts when the car is off. Then turn on the engine again and check the battery. If the voltmeter reads between 14-15 volts then the battery is normal. But if the battery reads over 15 volts or less than 13 volts, then there might be a problem with the voltage regulator, the wiring or the alternator. If the battery just wont keep a charge even when you have turned off all accessories, then it’s time to take a look at the other systems that work with the battery to run your car.
Check the Alternator
Test the alternator to make sure that it can start up the battery. If the battery is working properly and nothing is wrong with it, then it’s the alternator that will more likely cause a problem. A simple test to check the working of the alternator is by running your car; and then unplugging the positive connection of the battery. If the car stops, then you most likely have a problem with the alternator. Another simple test is to check your interior lights. An alternator charges your battery when the car is running. If the interior and dashboard lights come on brightly but slowly start to fade, then it indicates a problem whit the alternator. It demonstrates that the alternator cannot keep a charge when the car is running. Another sign is that the car lights run brightly when you race your car, but when you slow it down, the lights start to lose power.
We also recommend that if you have a dead battery, get a jump start done and check the battery and alternator at the garage. Most garages will do this absolutely for free and it just takes about five minutes.