Car Wont Start - Battery or Alternator?
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Thread: Car Wont Start - Battery or Alternator?

  1. #1
    G20 Member WRS85's Avatar
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    Car Wont Start - Battery or Alternator?

    My auto starter was being weird the other day and only starting the car for 5 seconds then turning off. Anyway I paid no attention and just thought maybe it was broken. Today when I got into my car and tired to start it with the key, it wouldn't start. It sounded like it was turning over, and then it would go click, click, click, etc. I had the car jumped, let it sit for 10 minutes then turned it off, turned it back on.... no luck, still wouldn't start. About 8 hours later I had it jumped yet again.... let it sit for 20 minutes went outside and turned on my A/C and radio and the car died immediately. Now when I try to start it, it doesn't even make a sound for turning over it just clicks. Does it sound like my alternator is toast or maybe the battery, or even the starter??? I just had a full tune-up about 2 months ago and just had new belts install yesterday. I am very stressed so far with this damn car, lol. All I give her is love and this is how she is showing me thanks I was thinking of going to an autozone, I did a search and saw they check all of this items for free, they any good? I just cant turn on anything or the car may die on the way there....

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  3. #2
    G20 Senior Member 95silverg20's Avatar
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    the battery is the first thing i would have checked. all the alternator does is keep the battery charged but if the battery is no good then it wont keep a charge and wont give enough juice to start the car

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    G20 Member kingjamesmckee's Avatar
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    95 has to be right got to be the battery. yeah just go to autozone and check that out. Get a tow from a friend.

  5. #4
    G20 Member WRS85's Avatar
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    Yeah I read on another thread though if the car after its started shuts back off when the radio or a/c unit turned on, its the alternator? Also when starting the car my cd unit clicked and the cd poped out and all of the stations are reset. I think I'll jump the car and drive to autozone, once its jumped if I dont turn on anything I should be able to make it like 15-20 miles right?

  6. #5
    G20 Member kingjamesmckee's Avatar
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    Good luck tell us what happens

  7. #6
    G20 Senior Member 95silverg20's Avatar
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    well if you get a jump and u try to drive your car and it doesnt drive very far then it is your battery that is not keeping a charge your best bet is to take your battery out and have a friend take u to autozone or somewhere to have it checked

  8. #7
    G20 Member kingjamesmckee's Avatar
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    good point you dont want the car to die on you while youre trying to get there

  9. #8
    G20 Member WRS85's Avatar
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    I just got home from work, I'll bring my battery and keep you all updated.

  10. #9
    G20 Member WRS85's Avatar
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    Well after 9 hours of work, which was busy as hell today, I went out to sears to get a new battery, which took another 3 hours. I bought a red top optima battery. Matches my valve cover Anyway as soon as I got in the car, car started first try, took a little, but it started. After driving for a little I started it again, this time it started perfect. I also noticed my idle went up about 200-250 rpms, and when I floor the car now it doesn't jerk, its really smooth. Does a battery really do all this?? Anyway I went to AutoZone to get my alternator check, just to be safe, but in Delaware they don't check them. I got the guy at sears said he can look at it for free on Tuesday. Then I went to the place I got my auto starter installed at...there clueless to why its broken. Gonna get that fixed Thursday...I'll update when more is learned. My main question is, if my alternator is bad how long will this new battery last before it dies?

  11. #10
    G20 Senior Member jtmobsta's Avatar
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    It does sound like your alternator. When your alternator dies, the cars running on the battery. when the battery dies, youre screwed. If you get a jump, itll last a few minutes and then die again. The same thing happen to me. The idiot at the auto shop didn't check the fuse before replacing the old alternator with a new one. After coming back from starbucks, he barely finished the install and checked the meter on the battery. The alternator still wasnt charging power into the battery. Then i ask him if he checked the fuse before the install and he goes, "good idea." After he replaces the BAD fuse, the alternator worked fine. I still don't know if my old alternator was bad or not, i still had to pay for the labor and a new alternator.

  12. #11
    G20 Junior Member freeG20's Avatar
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    Old rules of thumb....

    If it starts and stays running, even when you throw the lights to high, fan on high, and wipers, and it stays that way until you turn it off, your looking at a bad battery or bad connection/voltage regulator.
    If it starts after a battery charging or boost, and struggles when adding accessories, dimming lights with engine revs, your looking at a bad alternator(or regulator), loose/broken belt, broken wire/bad connection.
    If discharge occurs after the vehicle sets for two or three days, then there is a drain on the system or the battery is bad. If you disconnect the battery during the period of time that the car discharges in, and the battery becomes discharged, the battery is bad. If, however, the battery did not discharge while disconnected, then there is a drain on the system. Possibilities include: Short, Defective component(such as an Amp, Other Accesory), Bad rectifier in the alternator. A bad rectifier(diode bridge) also causes a 50%+ reduction in alternator output, which serves to compund the problem, in that the battery never gets a "full dose". And if the diodes are shorted, there will be a constant(but variable) drain on the battery.
    NOTE: It does not take much resistance to impede 12 volts, so make sure connections/battery terminals are clean and fitting well. Once I needed a jump in an old van I had, my friend tried for about 30 min. to give me a jump, the van would barely turn over. Then they had to go pickup their kid, while they were gone, I cleaned the battery's posts and terminals. BAMMmm!!! She started right up. Good Luck!!!

  13. #12
    G20 Member WRS85's Avatar
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    Having it checked out tom...I think its my alternator, I dont know if its me or what, but I swear my clock and seat belt light look dimmer...idk, hope they tell me everything is ok. Also I checked out my fuse, it was ok. Thanks guys for all the help. I'll tell you tom what happens. Also I checked all the terminals and they are on there snug.

  14. #13
    G20 Senior Member jtmobsta's Avatar
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    how about that light dimmer control to the left of the steering wheel lol

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    G20 Member postoner's Avatar
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    I'm surprised no one had mentioned the battery light. Now that you have a new battery in, is your battery light on? That light signals low voltage from your alternator. I also think your remote start guy may have wired something wrong or its just a coincidence. If he didn't ground your remote starter in the right place or wired to a ground where it is causing it to short, he may have shorted out your battery or electrical system causing a fault. A bad remote starter from the factory may have blown and shorted everything too (being that its not working). Get a load test on your alternator and find out if its cranking the right voltage and amps. If its not, you might fry the new battery too.

    Oh yeah, if your alternator is bad and your are running on a fully charged battery (assuming the alternator is putting out notta), you may have around 2 hours of drive time using no electrical stuff before it goes dead again.

  16. #15
    G20 Member postoner's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jtmobsta
    how about that light dimmer control to the left of the steering wheel lol

    Funny-- but possible--

  17. #16
    G20 Member WRS85's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jtmobsta
    how about that light dimmer control to the left of the steering wheel lol
    lol nah already checked that. I think that and the wipers are all in my head.

    Originally posted by postoner
    I'm surprised no one had mentioned the battery light. Now that you have a new battery in, is your battery light on? That light signals low voltage from your alternator. I also think your remote start guy may have wired something wrong or its just a coincidence. If he didn't ground your remote starter in the right place or wired to a ground where it is causing it to short, he may have shorted out your battery or electrical system causing a fault. A bad remote starter from the factory may have blown and shorted everything too (being that its not working). Get a load test on your alternator and find out if its cranking the right voltage and amps. If its not, you might fry the new battery too.

    Oh yeah, if your alternator is bad and your are running on a fully charged battery (assuming the alternator is putting out notta), you may have around 2 hours of drive time using no electrical stuff before it goes dead again.
    The battery light has not come on. Also kinda good news I guess I have been driving for about 3 days now fine (I dont drive a lot though, mabye 40-50 miles so far on the new battery). In the morning takes a little to start (assuming this is normal). Also drove with radio on, wipers on full power, brights on, and a/c full power fine. Idk if the optima battery is just that damn good or if mabye after all it was just a bad battery. Gonna get the alternator checked tomorrow. Also on wed gonna have the people who installed my remote start fix it.

  18. #17
    G20 Member WRS85's Avatar
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    Well today at 9:09 AM she flat lined. When I drove to work the ABS light came on and would go off every now and then. I feared for the worst and it happened. On my way home on break all the dash lights came on and flashed. I had to floor the car to move in little 1 foot bursts (I hope I didn't break anything else doing this). She made it to my driveway and that's when it happened. She had nothing left. Funny how things work out...anyway I am pretty much sure it's the alternator now. Have to get it towed to the dealership tomorrow and have Mike (p10det) work on her. It seems every time I get ahead in life something happens to take all my money. Just curious how much would a new alternator cost from the dealership installed? Also I just bought a red top optima battery ($140.00) and now it died because of the alternator, did I screw this battery up or will it be ok to use? Thanks for everyone's help. Life sucks.

  19. #18
    G20 Junior Member freeG20's Avatar
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    Battery probably OK...

    I would disconnect the battery to stop the drain, just take it out and give it a good(Not at max charge rate) charge. Make sure you have that alternator tested off of the car, it would hurt to drop $140-$200 on an alternator, just to find out that a wire, fusible link, connector or other circuit malfuntion was to blame. Good Luck!

  20. #19
    G20 Member WRS85's Avatar
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    Everything is all good now. Got a new alternator and everything works perfect again.

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    I had my alternator go in my 96 g20 a little over 100,000 miles. I was on my way to school, the car started lurching allover the place, the radio and the lights started cutting out, and I knew I was screwed. I turned around quick enough to make it back to the shop near my house. So they changed it out and everything was fine 300 dollars later. Not even a week later, that alternator went too....they apparently got a bum alternator and changed it out again, at no cost to me....what a nightmare!

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