Diagnosing a Battery Problem [Infographic]

Battery problems have several different causes; there are dozens of different things that can cause your battery to malfunction. Your car’s electrical system is fairly complex in execution but it’s simple in concept. The battery is connected to the electrical system of your car. It’s also connected to an alternator that is connected to your engine. When your engine is on, it turns the mechanical elements of the alternator.

The turning mechanical elements generate electric current and power your car’s electrical components. The battery is used when the engine is not already on so the battery is used to power the electronics when the engine is off and to start the engine. If your battery is not working correctly, it won’t properly power your car’s electronics while the engine is off. Also, it won’t properly start your car. However, it can be difficult to differentiate a battery problem from an alternator problem.


Differentiating a Problem

When you’re trying to differentiate between a battery problem and an alternator problem, you have a couple of options. The simplest option is to take your vehicle to a mechanic or to an auto parts store to have your alternator and battery tested. If that’s not easy for you or if you don’t have time for that, you can go through a couple of different steps to figure out what is wrong with your car. If your car breaks down while you’re on the road, you should call a company such as Roadside Response to deal with whatever is wrong with your car.

However, if you have some free time, you can test it yourself. The simplest way to tell what is wrong with your vehicle is to jump your car. Connect it to another car or to a battery charger. Use that extra energy to jump your car. If your battery is shot but your alternator is still good, the car will run just fine; however, after you turn the car off, it won’t restart easily. If your car runs for a while but then won’t restart, that usually means that your alternator is in good shape but your battery is dead. You need a new battery. However, if your engine dies soon after you turn off the battery charger, your alternator is likely shot. The best way to determine what is wrong is to jump your car and let it run for a while. That will typically give you an indication of what’s wrong.

Maintenance-Free Battery

There are two basic kinds of automobile batteries; there are maintenance-free batteries and batteries with maintenance ports. A battery that’s maintenance-free is not fundamentally different than any other kind of battery, but there is no port for maintenance. They’re not quite as common as a standard battery. A standard battery has one or two doors in the top of the battery that will give you access to the cells within. You can open the cells and add distilled water if your battery acid has run out. That will give you a few more starts so that you can get your car to an auto shop. Pure hydrogen peroxide works on occasion as well. Do not attempt this if you’ve never done it before.

Signs of a Problem

If your car runs just fine after jumping it and then restarts soon after, you should wait a few hours to try to start it again. If it starts just fine immediately after running for a while but then doesn’t start after a few hours, it is likely a battery issue.

A car battery is made of individual cells inside of battery acid; the cells and acid hold the electrical charge. If the battery has run out of acid or if the cells have lost their ability to hold charge, they might start immediately after running for a while but they will immediately start leaching their charge.

Published by Kidal Delonix (1194 Posts)

Kidal Delonix is a contributor to Mr. Hoffman's blog. The views and opinions are entirely his/her own and may not reflect Mr Hoffman's views.

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