MY CAR WON'T START: DO I HAVE A DEAD BATTERY OR A FAULTY ALTERNATOR?


You're late for work. You jump in your Lexus, turn the key, and… nothing. Your car's dead. But is it the battery, the alternator, or something else causing the problem?  
At Alderson Lexus, we hear this question quite a lot. Here are some of the reasons your car won't start and what you can do about them.
 
 
 

YOUR BATTERY'S DEAD

Car batteries generally last from 2 to 5 years. But even if yours isn't that old, it might still not be strong enough to start your car.
   
The main cause of dead batteries is leaving your lights on. It's surprising just how fast headlights can drain a battery.

Climate can also affect battery life. If you live in a part of the country with temperature extremes in the heat of summer or the cold of winter, your battery may not last five years.

Regardless of the reason your battery has died, you'll want to see if a jump-start will get you back on the road.


HOW DO I JUMP-START MY CAR?

First, you'll need jumper cables. Ask a friend to drive his or her car next to yours, leaving the engine running.
   
Cables are color coded: make sure to attach the red cable to the positive battery terminal on both cars, and the black cable to the negative side. The positive side will either be color coded red +/or have a "+" on it. Red is for fire, so think "positive."

You'll know right away if you've crossed cables because this will cause a spark. If that happens, don't worry: check your cables again, and attach them firmly and correctly.

Once the cables are attached, and with your friend's car is still running, try to start your car. If it turns over, remove the cables, accelerate in neutral, and then drive around to charge your battery.

If your battery still won't maintain a charge and your car won't start after you've given it time to charge, it may be time to buy a new battery.

WHICH CAR BATTERY SHOULD I BUY?

It's hard to know which battery to buy because batteries come in different sizes depending on your particular car or SUV.
   
Check with the experts at Alderson Lexus. We can suggest the right one for you, and then install and check it to make sure it's working right.

Batteries generally cost between $60 and $120, depending on several factors, like size and quality.


WHAT ABOUT MY ALTERNATOR?

But your battery might not be the underlying reason your car won't start. It may also be a faulty alternator. In fact, the battery just supplies power to start your car. Once you're driving, the alternator generates all the electricity you need, and it keeps your battery charged.
 
The fix might be as simple as tightening your alternator belt. But it's also possible that it's time for a new alternator.

Our Lexus Service Center can check your alternator, and adjust or replace it for you. We'll also check all your belts for wear and replace any that are worn. Worn belts don't work as well as they should and they're at risk of breaking. You sure don't want a belt to break when you're driving down the highway.

WHAT ARE SOME OTHER REASONS MY CAR WON'T START?

If your battery is new and your alternator is working properly but your car still won't start, here are some other possibilities:

  • A bad starter
  • Your ignition switch
  • An old fuel pump
  • Your security system

Cars are complicated. If you've tried to get your car started but couldn't-and you're unable to diagnose and fix the problem-get your car towed to the Alderson Lexus Service Center in Lubbock.

We deal with these problems all the time, and we'll be able to find the reason your car won't start and fix it for you.

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