Starting Problems - Is It My Battery or Alternator?

Car starting issues usually can be traced back to two things: the battery or the alternator. Today, we will be going over how these two electrical components function and how to determine which part is at fault.


A car battery will typically last anywhere between 3 to 5 years, depending on use, car, and environment. The battery is what supplies the electrical current to the starter to crank your engine to start. While it constantly delivers power to different parts of your car, it does not have infinite juice. It is also sensitive to extreme temperatures and susceptible to corrosion, which is why it's important to visually inspect and test your battery regularly.

Pro tip - Between the alternator and the battery, you should first start by testing the battery if your car won't start. It's more common for it to be attributed to a battery problem.

Signs of Bad Battery

  • A low whine or noise when trying to start 
  • If a jump start works, but you constantly need to do it again
  • The battery warning light comes on your dashboard


The alternator's primary function is to charge the battery while your car is running. Therefore, if the alternator is at fault, it will not be able to replenish the battery. More often than not, it's more common for your battery to be the culprit than the alternator.

Signs of Bad Alternator

  • You hear a growling sound coming from the engine
  • There is a smell of burnt rubber or wires coming from the alternator
  • The lights may dim or flicker
  • The jump start works, but the engine dies immediately following the start
  • Problems with the sound system output

If you require a battery or alternator inspection and repair, please feel free to bring your vehicle to Stamps Auto Tire Pros today.