Your battery, starter, and alternator are the three critical components of your electrical system and are what gives “life” to your vehicle. Your battery powers some of your vehicle’s components. Your battery also provides initial power to your starter motor, which is responsible for starting the engine. Once the engine is running, it drives a belt connected to your alternator, which, in turn, recharges your battery as it is being used. This cycle ensures you have the power you need to operate your vehicle. When one component begins to fail, you won’t be able to reliably start your vehicle. If this happens, visit your local Integra Tire, where our experienced technicians will test and diagnose your concerns.
Everything starts with your battery. Without it working properly, you cannot engage your starter motor and start your engine. Batteries are recharged by your alternator, so they are ready for the next time you start your car. Over time, batteries begin to have a lower and lower capacity to hold a charge, until it eventually cannot start your vehicle. This is expected to happen approximately every four to seven years; however, this can greatly vary depending on a number of conditions. These conditions include how often the vehicle sits and the temperatures it sits in because batteries sitting for long periods of time without being recharged can prematurely wear. Batteries last longer when kept fully charged, so if your charging system fails to charge it properly or if you often leave lights on in your vehicle overnight and need a boost in the morning, this can prematurely wear your battery. In fact, if your charging system is defective and overcharges your battery, it can prematurely wear too!
There are a number of ways to tell if your battery needs replacement. The simplest way to tell if it needs replacing is to pay attention to how your vehicle reacts when you start it. When you turn the key, you’re completing a circuit between your battery and your starter. When your starter receives power it engages and creates the noises we associate with starting a vehicle; this is called “turning over”. The battery must have sufficient voltage to do this. When it is in good condition, it should immediately engage your starter. If your car struggles to turn over, it can indicate a bad battery. You can also tell if your battery needs replacing by paying attention to your interior lights and radio or navigation system. If they dim while turning on your vehicle, this indicates the battery is losing its capacity.
How we can help diagnose:
The technicians at Integra Tire can use battery testing devices to tell you what might be wrong with your battery. We’ll use machines to measure its output, inspect its leads and wires, and diagnose if it needs replacing.
When you turn the key and deliver power from your battery to your starter, your starter then engages gears with the engine to turn it over and get it started. Even with a good battery, a failing starter will not engage the engine properly, and your vehicle will not start. Your starter is only ever used when starting the vehicle, so it theoretically could last the life of your vehicle; however, engaging the starter for too long can cause damage. Typically, general wear and tear on starter circuits and components are what causes it to fail. The technicians at your local Integra Tire are experts with starting systems and can pin point exactly what is wrong with your starter system.
As stated, it is not unheard of for starters to last the life of your vehicle, especially when used correctly. Starter problems can be difficult to diagnose without an experienced technician performing the inspection, as there are many components involved in making the starter engage. It is also difficult to distinguish between battery problems and starter problems, without troubleshooting properly; however, that being said, there are some signs that your starter is failing. You can trouble shoot by asking the following questions:
1) Is my battery okay? Refer to the battery diagnosis section of this page. If your vehicle has trouble starting, or will not start, and you can confirm your battery is not failing, you can logically move to the next piece of the puzzle: the starter.
2) Does my engine run fine when it’s started? The starter engages the engine, but once the engine is running, the starter is out of the picture. If your vehicle runs fine once it is started but struggles to start in the first place, this typically points to a bad starter.
How we can help diagnose: The technicians at Integra Tire can typically troubleshoot the most obvious causes of your problems. We use equipment to test various components, and once we find the component causing problem, we can give you an accurate idea of the work needed to fix it.
Your alternator runs similarly to any generator. It is driven by a belt connected to your engine, turning mechanical energy into electricity that flows back to your battery and powers your various electrical devices. A vehicle with a faulty alternator may start, but without the alternator charging and powering the system, the vehicle will be expending enormous amounts of energy out of the battery and eventually die. Because your alternator is always running and typically connected to many other accessories by a belt, it can be more subject to wear and tear. In fact, even the slightest error in the tension of the belt connected to your alternator can cause wear over time.
Once again, diagnosing an alternator starts with troubleshooting. If your vehicle’s battery has no trouble, your starter has no trouble engaging your engine, but your battery is always dying or dead after you run your vehicle, it’s likely that the alternator is not recharging the battery properly. A dead battery should be recharged by an alternator after it is boosted. If this does not happen, it can also indicate a failing alternator.
The technicians at Integra Tire know what to look for in their diagnosis of your vehicle’s electrical system and use various methods to pin point where the problem exists.