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Common Car Battery Issues That Cause Starting Problems

Updated on March 23, 2016

Battery problems can strike without warning, the unsuspecting owner fearing that something terrible happened to their vehicle overnight and now it won't start at all. More often than not though, the vehicle is completely fine other than a battery that's acting up.

Car batteries are probably the most volatile component in the car, and it doesn't take much for them to go bad. They only have a shelf life of a few years, and they'll die quicker because of things like disuse, corrosion, and faulty connections.

It takes a very large amount of power to turn over an engine and start a car. The batteries are designed to give a big push of power and voltage for a short period of time.

If you're not sure what your problem is though, make sure you read through all of the possible problems, and go to my other articles on solenoid problems and alternator problems to make sure you can rule those out too.

Types of Problems

There are multiple types of problems that a person might run into with their battery. Here are just a few.

1. Faulty Connection

There are two ports or posts that stick up from your battery, the negatively charged post and the positively charged post. There are cables that attach to each of these posts that run from your battery to your starter.

Sometimes the screws or bolts that connect the ports to the cables can become loose and the connection breaks. When this happens your car won't start at all. It will be completely dead because no power will be going from your battery to your starter.

So if you're trying to start your car and absolutely nothing is happening, check your connections. This problem can also be indicative of solenoid problems.

2. Corrosion

Corrosion is another thing that can cause a bad connection to pop up. The same two ports mentioned earlier that can develop a loose connection can also develop a corroded connection.

As corrosion develops on the ports, the connection consistently grows weaker. There is less metal to metal contact and therefore it becomes harder for power to transfer from the battery to the starter.

If you're having battery problems, check your ports to see if they're corroded. If they are, you might think about cleaning them. Here's a good explanation and directions for how to clean battery posts.

3. Disuse

If you've let your car sit idle for awhile without using it, usually at least two weeks or more, then your battery might have lost enough power that it can no longer start your engine.

After a battery starts a car, the alternator takes over and powers the electrical systems of the car and also recharges the battery, which we'll talk about next. As long as the car is being run fairly often the battery can be continuously recharged and ready for use.

But if the car isn't being run often, the battery will slowly drain over time and soon won't have enough juice to send the necessary voltage to the starter.

4. Alternator Problems

Battery problems can quickly arise from alternator problems. If your alternator is going bad, then it will no longer be able to charge your battery. You'll start your car, drive for awhile and your car will die.

The battery won't restart the car and you'll be stuck. Like I mentioned in the above point, the alternator powers almost all of the electrical systems of the car once the car is started and it recharges the battery as well.

So if your alternator is going bad, not only will your battery not recharge fully, but your car might die on you while driving because you aren't generating enough spark or other things in order to successfully run your vehicle.


Car batteries are something you don't want to skimp on. They're like tires. Sure you can buy cheap tires and drive them for awhile. But you'll be back in the shop before too long getting new ones because they're already worn out.

I don't mind spending extra money for them because I hate battery problems. Not only that, but I also travel quite a bit and hate coming home to a dead battery at the end of a week-long trip.

A good one should cost you around $100. That's pretty expensive, I know, but will last you for a couple of years.

If you're like me and really want to avoid problems as much as possible, then make sure you get a good quality battery and make sure that you keep your ports clean from corrosion and firmly connected.


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    • lefseriver profile image

      David L. Walli 6 years ago from Northern Minnesota

      Are you positive? I don't mean to be negative, but I got a charge out of this one.

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 6 years ago from San Diego, California

      Haha, right on. I am positive actually. Thanks for asking :)

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      My wife had a "dead" battery. She called to ask me what to do.. I told her to get a jumped start from somebody and call after the football game about what happened.

      After the football game she called to inform me that they both jumped up and down on her car and it still would not start.

      I told her to get the guy to push her car at least 35 miles per hour and jam the gear selection into Drive.

      She called back upset that the guy got his car going 35 MPH when he hit her car. Now, her car is still not running and they have no place to stand on the back of her car to jump start her car.

      She wanted to know what to do now... I told her to think postive and quit being negative. Call AAA!

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 6 years ago from San Diego, California

      Haha, man I would have loved to see that story in action. Hopefully it didn't really happen though. Thanks for the chuckle :) AAA is still the best.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Thanks for your helpful hub. Very timely!

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 5 years ago from San Diego, California

      Thanks! Hope this helped you solve your problems.

    • Lissa Huang profile image

      Lissa Huang 5 years ago from Shenzhen, Zhejiang, China

      In fact, as for a car battery, we need to learn much to maintain it to prolong its life. In general, the battery can be used for 2 to 3 years. But if you use it improperly, after 3 – 4 months it might be replaced. There are many factors to affect its life, such as the environment, temperature, etc. In the daily usage process, the car battery is also one of the most auto components. When we handle with a car battery, some protections are required to do. Before understanding some maintenance tips, you need to know some cleaning process. Then you can start to maintain the battery.

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 5 years ago from San Diego, California

      Thanks for all the info Lissa. You're very right that a battery can die quickly if not maintained very well.

    • Krista 5 years ago

      For two weeks now I have been needing a jump every time I drive my car and yesterday it just died while driving it my ex n his dad don't think its my battery but I'm sure it is I have no other problems can I get some opinions please?

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 5 years ago from San Diego, California

      Well it's either the battery or the alternator. There isn't really anything else it could be. The alternator is the generator that recharges the battery once the car turns on. So if that goes out, your car will definitely die on you while driving. I would say it's the alternator that's bad, because that's the only thing that will generally cause you to lose power while driving.

    • clarence 5 years ago

      Hey I just got a used Cadillac the battery went bad on new years so so I had to buy a new batter for a $100 now my truck has no power im pissed

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 5 years ago from San Diego, California

      Clarence, that's weird. A battery shouldn't cause your truck to lose power. There's got to be something else going on there. Lack of power can be caused by a number of things. Can you describe what you're experiencing in more detail?

    • Jordan 4 years ago

      Hello, I am having an issue with my car right now. I tried to run it over and it turned over but didn't start, now when I try it, it barely turns over, almost like the battery is dead. Yet, when I had a friend try to jump-start my car, it still did nothing. He had new cables and we connected them accurately, then we waited 10-15 minutes and I tried to start my car and it was the same as before we even tried to jump-start it. Any solutions?

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 4 years ago from San Diego, California

      Jordan, hmm, that's not good. It sounds like you did everything right with the jumpers. You probably have a bad starter, which I'm sure you've probably realized. From what you've described, I don't think it could be anything else.

    • priscilla 4 years ago

      I put a new battery in my car and it read on the dash no fuse,

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 4 years ago from San Diego, California

      Priscilla, you'll probably need to go into your fuse box then and replace some fuses. Sounds like you had a short somewhere and now it's affecting your battery. If you go to your local auto parts store and tell them that you've blown a fuse but that you're not sure which one or where the fuse box is, they'll probably be willing to help you change it. It's pretty easy once you've done it.

    • brian 4 years ago

      hi there i am having issues with starting my car, firstly i get click start and car doesn't fire up, then after a few attempts it usually fires into life, but on the occasions it doesn't i try putting jumper cables( all fitted correctly) and it seams as though the battery is arking causing the doner vehicle to die and huge weld like sparks come from connection to dud battery, after this it starts, any comments or help greatly appreciated, new starter fitted, battery has been checked, could it be a dodgy earth connection from engine block to car chassis

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 4 years ago from San Diego, California

      As I'm sure you're aware, sparks are definitely bad. I've never seen what you're describing before happen in real life. Sounds pretty wild. It kind of seems like you have a faulty electrical connection somewhere that keeps electricity from flowing to your starter temporarily until it suddenly kicks in. But then again, it seems like there's something else going on. When you mentioned that the donor vehicle died, did the alternator get knocked out or just the battery drained?

    • cristy 4 years ago

      Hi having some battery/altenator issues started loosing voltage a couple wks ago so I had the altenator tested guy said it was charging fine so I bought new battery and terminals and it done fine for a few days and now its doing it again cannot figure it out it will be on 14 while driving then drop to 9 then zero then if u mess with the connections it will go back up to 14 also my negative wires are getting juice ????help

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 4 years ago from San Diego, California

      Hmm, that is odd. If the alternator is charging fine, then there's something strange happening. Are you measuring with the volt meter gauge inside the car or using a handheld device to measure the voltage? I'm just wondering if the gauge is working properly. If the alternator's fine and your battery is new, you shouldn't be experiencing problems like that. There's got to be something faulty in your wiring, but I don't know exactly what.

    • rose 4 years ago

      just put new alternator in my car my car stop again with me ,so i with to the store to get a new batter it start up good , car was fine for two weeks and stop again with me , so i with back to store a get a new batter again .i start up good with new batter , 3 days stop again ,my radio go off and on my lights dim

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 4 years ago from San Diego, California

      Rose, it sounds like you're having alternator problems, but that's weird because you just replaced your alternator. It seems like maybe there's something that's blowing out your alternator, which is then blowing out your battery.

    • jessica 4 years ago

      My car start when it sat over night but soon as I drive it turn it off it goes dead then I get a boost

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 4 years ago from San Diego, California

      So you're saying that you can start it after it has sat over night, but then after you drive it for awhile and then stop it, you can't start it up again later? If that's the case, then you're probably dealing with a failing alternator, and/or a dead battery. Your alternator is what recharges your battery once the car is running. If it's bad or going bad, you can lose power while driving and come to a halt. If that hasn't happened yet, then you might just be dealing with a failing battery that sometimes works and other times can't hold a charge.

    • Chase G. 4 years ago

      I recently had my alternator replaced, and about a week later my car won't start at all. No clicks or turning attempts when I turn the ignition. I tried jumping it with my brother's truck, and it started, but after I took the cables off, i pushed on the brakes to turn the car off and it died again. Does this sound like a solenoid problem, or am I in bigger trouble than that?

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 4 years ago from San Diego, California

      No, that doesn't sound like a solenoid problem. The solenoid helps primarily with the starting of the car, and won't let you start at all if it goes bad, even after a jump. It could be something simple like a completely dead battery. If your battery won't take a charge at all, then the car will die on you pretty quick after you disconnect the cables.

      If it were me, I'd try jumping it again, but leave the other truck hooked up with the engine revving slightly for about 10-15 minutes after your car starts. Then see if it dies right away again on you. If so, then you might need to take your batter in to your local auto parts store and have them test it for you to see how good it is.

    • anand 4 years ago

      As i have purchased a new car so for fifteen i wont be able to start the car if that is the case battery power will come down or it will be k so that i can start it immediately

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 4 years ago from San Diego, California

      Hmm, I'm not quite sure what you're asking.

    • Clueless 4 years ago

      Okay...I've no idea apparently. I have an 86 Ford truck which has had some issues and has not run for a while. I regularly go out and try to start it, just to make the engine parts move occasionally. Ha! We put a new starter on and I found a renewed interest in trying to get it started. The battery was dead, so I had it on a charger. While charging, I turned the key on listening for the fuel pump, then couldn't resist the stupid urge to crank it. A moment later, the truck had no power interior lights or anything. Just wondering if there may be fuse, fusible link or maybe the starter relay that I blew up. I must has a wish to complicate things. ugh

    • jason 4 years ago

      I gave someone a jump two days ago now my car needs a jump every time I go to start it why is that

    • donna 4 years ago

      My car was cutting out while driving. I had her checked over by a garage that couldn't find a fault and replaced battery. Left the garage and she cut out again. Turned round to go straight back but they told me they could do nothing with the car for over a week. So after a bit of internet hunting i came up with a CGR valve reading on the car. Got her to my friend who is mechanic. He blocked up the valve (which is legal) ran car through diagnostics and car has been great since. So check if ur car has the CGR valve and get the update which tends to be between free and £70

    • JenniferOR 4 years ago

      Not mentioned here is if a single cell has become defective and you attempt to start the engine you may hear a clunk from the starter solonoid but there is insufficiend current available to fully engage the solonoid or turn the starter itself. To determine this condition you need to first check and see that your 12 Volt battery has at least 13,67 volts available. Less than that, it is defective. Then if that is correct, check each individual cell. You do that by removing the electrolyte fill caps, use a nails or screws to a voltage meter and one by one test each cell next to one another. If any individual cell varies by more than 25%, you have a bad battery.

      To Donna above me. A common problem on not starting is the electronics and pollution controls. You can bypass all that by connecting a wire from the hot terminal of your battery to the hot wire of your coil. (usually a red wire, but can be black. Just remember the green one will always be ground (negative). My car gives problems on this about once a month. Something in the steering column with the ignition switch. Just remember you will need to disconnect that wire to shut off your engine though. Old day known as Hot Wiring.

      Here I am a woman and yet I know more about cars and electronics than most any man. But then I also have a PhD in Physics. No, I am not a Rocket Scientist. I had about 150 Rocket Scientists working below me as Chief Metrologist and Program Director.

      One added thing. Beware that in jump starting another's car, you risk blowing the diodes in your car's alternator if theirs is bad. Also, I knew of a case where a person was giving a jump start and told the man not to try to start until he was away from the battery. The guy disregarded and cranked as soon as he connected, the battery blew up and the man was permanently blinded from the acid. Not totally blinded, but his eyesight was damaged to the point he will never be allowed to drive again. Ad of course so many people are sue happy. The more you help someone, the more they expect. Best way to jump start though is connect to the other and run your engine 5 or ten minutes, disconnect a lead and Have them attempt to start. I highly recommend you do NOT have your engine running when they attempt to start. You will have two alternators battling for command. And the weaker smaller one is certain to lose. Lastly, do NOT hook up the black Negative cables to the batteries. Connect the reds, then clamb the blacks to a bare metal surface on the vehicle. Chrome bumpers work nice. But the engine block has many opportunities too. Why? Well back to that exploding battery. You can be a bit distant from it, even often set the hood down for added protection.

    • montycore 4 years ago

      my wife just got a new car battery put in less than a month ago. and she just drove it home from work which takes about an hour. and she stopped in the house for about ten minutes and when she tried to leave the car was completely dead. we have a jump starter but it will not start the car. the dome light sometimes goes on when i open the door but not for long. theres no radio or clock and when the automatic doorlocks do not work. i dont understand being that she was JUST driving it minutes ago.

    • real 4 years ago

      ma battery does not have enough power to start engine unless i play with the lights , wipers indicaters then the positive side of the battery will get hot then i force to start it and it does ... but the positive side seems to heat up while negative is cold, and it expands as if it will blow... wats the reason to this HELP

    • Stephanie 4 years ago

      Hi my name is stephanie and my problem stared when i left my lights on in 92 buick century only 80.000 miles friend gave me a jump. Was unable due to alarm system. He cut the alarm box. Then was unable to jump my car. Ran fine for a couple of days. Try to start my car was having hard time turning over let go to try to restart lost all power. Had someone try to jump my car lights came on still would not turn over. Car sit for about an hour I try it by sure luck it turn over. I have noticed when my heat is on it is draining my battary when i am driving. Please help not sure where to start.

    • Stephanie Howe profile image

      Stephanie Howe 4 years ago

      Stephanie 16 minutes ago

      Hi my name is stephanie and my problem stared when i left my lights on in 92 buick century only 80.000 miles friend gave me a jump. Was unable due to alarm system. He cut the alarm box. Then was unable to jump my car. Ran fine for a couple of days. Try to start my car was having hard time turning over let go to try to restart lost all power. Had someone try to jump my car lights came on still would not turn over. Car sit for about an hour I try it by sure luck it turn over. I have noticed when my heat is on it is draining my battary when i am driving. Please help not sure where to start.

      stephanie 11 minutes ago


    • cruzer 4 years ago

      Stephanie, sounds to me that you have a bad battery, have parts store check voltage good luck!

    • jorgev916 4 years ago

      My car was working fine i didn't use it yesterday, however today im getting ready to go to school and lights inside the car start flickering on and off, the I turn the car and nothing any suggestions??

    • Stephanie Howe profile image

      Stephanie Howe 4 years ago

      battary was tested it was fine

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 3 years ago from San Diego, California

      Right on. Thanks for stopping by.

    • linliden profile image

      linliden 3 years ago

      Thanks very much useful.

    • denis 3 years ago

      Friend has a 2005 chevrolet cavalier that when starting the starter engages fine, then temporarily cuts out, but quickly engages again starting the car. Its almost like someone cuts off the power for a split second. What could this be?

    • antonio 3 years ago

      I just replaced my alt. And blew my alt fuse so I replaced that too, I drove my car to work today and the car battery was very low it wouldn't even start the car I got the battery tested and auto zone said the battery was still good, do you think it could be a short somewhere?

    • oliver hernandez 3 years ago

      My car wont turn on i think its the battery,i here tick tick tick sounds quickly and just slowly fades away. Left the radio on idk how it stays on and now car wont start

    • Nacho 2 years ago

      Hi, after a fail in the alternator (2005 Opel Astra) I replaced it. Since then, after my rides (5-6 km, home to work and back) when I'm parking using first and reverse gears, lights (only external lights, not internal) and radio turn off for less than a second and then turn on again (it happens 2 or 3 times every day, only with first or reverse gear, so at low rpm). I took the car to the garage where they had replaced the alternator, but they say the new alternator is ok and they don't know what s going on... Should be the new alternator in bad condition?

    • SanJard profile image

      Justinas 2 years ago from Lithuania

      Very usefull tips bro, thank you :)

    • Gabe 2 years ago

      My truck will lose power for just a split second and then it will be fine. It's always at random times too. I just got a new battery a month ago. What could it be?

    • Shawn 2 years ago

      I have a 2001 grand am, in which i just changed the alternator and battery. Car being driving good for a month with no problems. went to pep boys for an oil and air filter change. when I drove off the lot I noticed my clock time went back to 12:00, like they disconnected the battery but now two days later my car wont start. no power at all. nothing turns on. could this be a starter issue

    • Dan Ferrell profile image

      Dan Ferrell 23 months ago

      I think we as car owners sometimes neglect a lot of things in our cars--the battery being one of them. And then we wonder why we're replacing components too often. Nice article.

    • leisl cook 18 months ago

      I've been having probs with my car lately... I was driving 40-45 mph and the radio went out and all my interior lights flickered and went out and my car died. My mom and a friend tried to jump it off the next day and it melted the jumper cables. I have no power what so ever. I'm going to school at Lincoln Tech and brought the battery to my teacher. It was completely dead. We charged it for 2 hours and put it on a d-tax. It was the battery was bad. Hooked up a carbon pile tester and it held a charge at 11.7v with a load. But when I tried to hook it back up in my car that night, it sparked really bad and I heard a clicking noise coming from the starter area. Last night, I was talking to my friend and decided to go check it. It sparked a little bit when I put the negative cable on the battery, and there was no noise coming from the starter area this time. My dad doesn't know what to do and my teacher is kinda stumped. I've done everything they've suggested, but I still have no headlights or interior lights, with or without the key.... Can you give me some advice on what to do?? Its driving me nuts. Its been a week since I've had my car and my mom is tired of taking me everywhere

    • Charlene 16 months ago

      My car will start lights radio all good drive it anywhere good win I get back in to start it won't start lights radio all work has to set at least a couple hours then it Will start

    • rich 8 months ago

      I have a 2015 honda civic my car battery died and now my car only runs for 4 week at a time then the battery dies... does any might know what the problem is?

    • Welshmanwandering 7 months ago

      My battery was almost flat, tried starting it with jumps and the car started straight away, everything kicked in for about two seconds then died…..cant restart it with jumps and not enough energy in the battery to lock the doors……first thought it was a fuse, but then later in the day, found that it had a bit of life so tried again…exactly the same thing…..will try again tomorrow…any ideas though?

    • melanie 7 months ago

      Hi, my car will only start after a long drive (clearly it is recharging the battery) it will start for 2 days each morning after the drive but then requires a jump every morning until another long drive. The battery appears to be recharging but leaking the power over night. It is a newish battery. Any ideas?

    • Christi 6 months ago

      I left my car light on for days and ran the battery flat, jumpstarting has done nothing. could you please let me know if you haave any idea what hte problem is?

    • Chris 5 months ago

      Couple days ago my abs, check engine, and brake light came on on dash now my suv won't crank won't make any noise like battery dead. Tried to boost off. light up under hood and inside got bright for a while but when tried to crank truck nothing then lights went off again. Help!!!

    • vashti johnson 5 months ago

      i went to my dads house got out the car and shut it off like everyone dose come to find out when i went to leave my car would not start so i hit the ports w a pair of pliers and it started so i took ot to the local auto zone and got the car checked out and they said everything was good so idk wat else it could b anyone else know

    • yunus 4 months ago

      my car is not starting even after a new battery it shows that battery dead

    • Vino 4 months ago

      My car failing to start since 3-4 days, called AA, they jump started the car, and confirmed battery is good. Again it happened next day, I called again AA, same story. I directly drive into kwik fit (Mary hill road), they also told the same story. Next day, ,managed to reach another kwik fit near Pollokshaws Rd. They really spend sometime and checked everything. recommended to replace starter motor.

      My doubt is how come the starter motor is working well when i am using jump starter to start from another car?

    • Sam 4 months ago

      I have a 1984 Gmc C1500. I recently had work done on it. Had the distributor replaced. Ran into issues with the truck keeping a charge, so i replaced both the alternatoe and the battery. They both tested bad. After replacing i would not have any issues until i would turn on the blower motor for heat/AC. The lights would dim if i would drive at night. I tried turning off the lights and blower motor to let it recharge while i let it run in driveway. Next morning truck would not start. Any ideas on what would cause the alternator to not recharge, but keep a charge while driving. Tested alternator output and I am getting 13.7V to the battery

    • johnnygh 4 months ago

      I have a bmw 325i 2006 it's starts and runs good and everything but when I turn it off and try to turn it back on it wont started into later what can it be the battery? ?

    • Roxanne 4 months ago

      Hi my fiance's 2008 chevy colorodo has problems with battery dying on him. The battery is just about a year old and we took it to the shop where we bought it and they told us everything is ok that it does not drive it enough. I never heard that leaving a car/truck for couple days not being driven can make the battery die. It happened twice on us and was told we need to get a battery tender. Has anyone else have or had this problem and why is it happening. no lights are on to indicate something is drawing juice when not running.

    • Jarrad 3 months ago

      My friend has a 1996 Toyota Camry, that's been sitting for over a year. I've replaced the; battery, starter, and alternator, but it still won't start! The radio and lights all come on, but won't turn over. Why could be the problem

    • Tamne 3 months ago

      Okay pushed guy out of the road. He recently put in new alternator. His car died while driving it. We gave him jump start and it started but spit and sputtered. He took off negative to test alternator and it ran stronger and better. He was able to drive to nearest stopping point without negative cable. Ideas on what's wrong?

    • Tammy 3 months ago

      My car will drive good around town and start every time if I drive around town but if I drive somewhere that's better than 30 miles away and then turn my car off and try to start it again I can't and won't start I just replace the battery what could it possibly be

    • Cortni 3 months ago

      I have a 2010 dodge charger SXT. My battery was fine and one day my radio started messing up and won't come on and then after a few months it was popping back on for the day and then back off for months. But the day it started that my battery started dying only in the mornings. Well, I bought a new battery and it was fine for about 2 weeks and then started dying only in the mornings again. And the weird part is the days my radio will pop on it won't be dead the next morning. PLEASE HELP I HAVE EVEN TOOK IT TO 2 SHOPS TO FIND OUT AND THEY DON'T KNOW EITHER

    • Guy 2 months ago

      Changed the battery, alternator, starter and still won't start,many body got any ideas

    • sc 2 months ago

      What about if the lights still come on?

    • Mike C. 7 weeks ago

      my positive battery cable holds a charge while disconnected from the battery. what could possibly be the problem

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