When You're Dealing with a Bad Alternator vs. Bad Battery


You’re just about to leave home when it happens – your car fails to start up properly. Immediately, you believe that this failure to start is the result of a faulty or depleted battery. But then you remember that a faulty alternator might also be the cause of this failed ignition. In order to efficiently and effectively resolve your automotive breakdown, you’ll need to learn the difference between a bad alternator and a bad battery.


While both of these automotive components are part of a vehicle’s charging system, each respective component demonstrates its faults through a distinct series of symptoms. Knowing these symptoms can make it easier to diagnose the faulty part, leading to a swifter replacement through a mechanic.


Should you need your alternator or battery replaced, drivers in the Canton, MA, region can count on Living the Dream Auto Care for all of their auto repair needs. Their trained service team will always provide you with top-tier service at a budget-conscious price.



Bad Battery Symptoms


First and foremost, a faulty or depleted battery may be signaled as soon as you insert your key and turn the ignition. If this process results in a sluggish or choppy engine response, your battery may be on its last leg. With a jump from another automotive battery, you may be able to putter into an automotive shop. However, if you don’t receive any response when you turn the ignition, you can be fairly certain that your battery is fully depleted.


If you do manage to start your car through an electrical jump, then you can be certain that your car’s core problem lies within the battery. Even without a full failure, you may preliminarily suspect that you have a faulty battery if your internal lights and stereo sporadically dim. Also, visible corrosion on the battery’s terminals is a clear indicator that you need to install a fresh battery.



Bad Alternator Symptoms


A bad alternator can be a little harder to isolate. Most notably, you should generally suspect an alternator problem if your car stalls out a minute or two after starting it up. Also, you may be able to diagnose an alternator problem by turning your AM radio to a low, music-less channel and then revving the engine. If this returns an engine whine or increased fuzziness on the radio, you may have a bad alternator on your hands.


Also, a bad alternator can lead to the aforementioned battery problems (such as a lack of charge). Given the alternators role in charging the battery, any problems with its performance can make the battery look suspect. When in doubt, though, an auto mechanic is capable of testing each component to see if either or both require replacement.



The Bottom Line


All in all, it is important to learn the different symptoms that mark a bad battery as opposed to a bad alternator. Should you find yourself stuck with either, you can call Living the Dream Auto Care and count on reliable auto repair services that will get you back out on the road in no time!

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