Virginia Auto Service

Car Battery Trouble Shooting: What is wrong with my battery? What should I do?

car battery
Here are some helpful tips to keep your car battery functioning properly 

What is wrong with my battery? What should I do?

We have all been there.  We put the key in the ignition, turn it, and…nothing happens.  Most people would assume that this means the battery is dead and while that may be true, there are some other things that can act like a dead battery.  To help you figure out the source of your problem so that you can figure out what to do next, let’s look at the different battery related problems and how to solve them.

  1. It is, in fact, completely dead.

A dead battery means a battery that no longer contains enough of a charge to provide the electricity required to start the car.  Batteries lose their ability to hold a charge over time and most batteries, according to Firestone, only last for 3-5 years.   The climate you live in and the way you drive will affect how long your battery lasts.  If your car is a couple years old, a dead battery could mean it is time to replace it.  If your battery dies, you jumpstart it and drive it, and the next time you go to start it the battery is dead again, there is a good chance it needs to be replaced.  Have your tech check the charge and replace the battery if needed.

  1. It is only drained.

Batteries can also lose their charge in a short amount of time if something that requires the battery is left on after the car stops running like the radio, headlights, or interior lights.  If you are able to jumpstart the car, look around to see if you left anything on that could have drained the battery.  If the car starts easily the next time you go to drive it, it is likely something was left on that drained the battery the first time and no other action needs to be taken.

  1. It isn’t the battery at all.

If your battery dies and your attempts to get the car started using jumper cables doesn’t work, there is a good chance the problem is not the battery at all.  In addition to the battery, the starter and the alternator must be functioning in order for the car to start.  If you turn the key and all you hear is a clicking sound, you may have a problem with your starter.  If you turn the key and hear a whining sound or nothing at all, it may be a problem with the alternator.  Your repair shop will be able to diagnose the problem although you may have to have it towed there if you can’t get it to start.

So, if you are having trouble starting the car, don’t assume it is the battery.  Your best bet, whenever the battery dies, is to have your repair shop take a look so that you don’t find yourself stranded on the side of the road.