Common Car Battery Issues That Cause Starting Problems
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.
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.
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.
More by this Author
Solenoid problems can be very difficult to diagnose properly. Of all the electrical components in a car, the solenoid might be the least understood.
Learn about different problems that can occur with your car's electrical system.