Automotive

Car Battery or Alternator

  • Last Updated:
  • Sep 1st, 2021 4:33 am
[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 26, 2004
3312 posts
583 upvotes
Toronto

Car Battery or Alternator

Unfortunately, I did not start my car for about four months. I got a battery boost from CAA. The first time the individual said battery was fine. I let the car run for ten minutes and then tried pulling out of my driveway. It died. I got another boost and let it run for about 20 minutes and then it just died on its own. I got a third boost let it run for 30 minutes but then it died again while I set it into drive. There is no battery light on. The third battery service guy said the battery was drained and I needed to drive it but otherwise everything looked good. He said that that alternator was operating on a high voltage because the battery was drained. Battery was bought in December 2018.

Options
1. Buy a battery charger at let it charge more before trying again?
2. Replace battery and try again
3. Get it towed to a mechanic to check the alternator
4. Other suggestion

Any suggestions?
45 replies
Deal Addict
Nov 21, 2014
2810 posts
4782 upvotes
Atlantic
Probably 3

My understanding is that once a car is started/cranked over- all electrical power should be supplied by the alternator; as well as the alternator charging the battery. Based on your symptoms, I would suspect the alternator.

That said, I think you should get some diagnostics before splurging on another battery or charger or an alternator for that matter.
Last edited by EasyCompany251 on Aug 26th, 2021 10:05 am, edited 3 times in total.
Deal Addict
Sep 22, 2009
3234 posts
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Markham
Replace the alternator.
Deal Fanatic
Sep 16, 2004
9779 posts
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Toronto
" If the engine starts but dies immediately, your alternator probably isn’t keeping your battery charged. If a jump starts and keeps your car running, but the car can’t start again off of its own power, a dead battery is likely your answer."

https://blog.nationwide.com/dead-car-ba ... lternator/

You can also check Thomas Brian youtube video of removing the positive battery pole and see if the car continues to run or not.
Deal Addict
Nov 11, 2013
1167 posts
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Calgary
Start your car and stick a multimeter on the battery terminals, it should read between 13.5-14.7v. Any less than that, replace your alternator
Last edited by redblack on Aug 26th, 2021 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Expert
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Jun 12, 2007
18634 posts
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London
CDNPatriot wrote:
Any suggestions?
Was the CAA guy from mobile battery service ? They usually do an electrical system test before declaring a battery good / bad.

As the previous poster above said, check the battery voltage with a multimeter while the car is running
[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 26, 2004
3312 posts
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Toronto
l69norm wrote: Was the CAA guy from mobile battery service ? They usually do an electrical system test before declaring a battery good / bad.

As the previous poster above said, check the battery voltage with a multimeter while the car is running
Yes he said that his interpretation from the read out was that the battery was drained and needed to run for a bit followed by a drive. He said the alternator read out indicated a high load from the alternator but that most likely was the result of the batter needing charging.
Deal Expert
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Jun 12, 2007
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CDNPatriot wrote: Yes he said that his interpretation from the read out was that the battery was drained and needed to run for a bit followed by a drive. He said the alternator read out indicated a high load from the alternator but that most likely was the result of the batter needing charging.
Ask around and see if you have a friend or relative close by with a battery charger and / or multimeter you can borrow

If the battery or alternator was bad, it likely would have shown up on the CAA battery guy's tester

It also could be loose battery connections, but the CAA guy usually checks for that
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Mar 7, 2007
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CDNPatriot wrote: I got a battery boost from CAA. The first time the individual said battery was fine. I let the car run for ten minutes

10 minutes at idle? Was the car moving?
CDNPatriot wrote: I got another boost and let it run for about 20 minutes and then it just died on its own.
20 minutes at idle, or was it moving?

CDNPatriot wrote: I got a third boost let it run for 30 minutes but then it died again while I set it into drive.
You have a battery from 2018. The CAA guy said it is fine. But you are doing a lot of idling and the alternator is not charging the battery.

Is it possible it is the battery?
______________________________
Deal Addict
Sep 22, 2009
3234 posts
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Never trust the CAA guy.....get a second opinion. Get the battery tested. I think PartSource does it for free.

I remember 20 years ago, my friend called me and told me his vehicle wouldn't start. CAA was on the way but 30-45 mins away. I was 15 mins away. I showed up. Turned the key and the engine turned strong but struggle to start. I suspected it was either crappy fuel or stuck fuel injector(s). Within a min, before I was able to do anything, CAA showed up and I stepped back. The CAA guy tried to start the vehicle as well and produced the same result. Then he pulled out a pipe from his truck and slide it under the vehicle. I asked the CAA guy what he was doing. He said the starter was sticky. I stopped him. First, you can see the starter from the top of the car...no need to bang the bottom of the vehicle randomly. Second, the starter is working because you can hear the engine turning strong. I told him to give me a second to try something before he does his thing. I turned the key and manipulated the gas pedal. After a few seconds, the engine started and ran rough for about 20 seconds. Then the engine ran fine. Probably bad fuel or stuck injector. What a joke....
Deal Addict
Feb 24, 2007
1287 posts
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Beamsville
If you have another vehicle Canadian tire does battery load testing, you can bring in your charged battery and they will test it and let you know. If you have your receipts and the battery is bad you may (depending on where you bought it) be able to get a pro rated exchange.
Deal Fanatic
Sep 1, 2004
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If you don't have a battery charger, get a good one anyway. It's something you'll need sooner or later unless you are going carless. See if you can resurrect it.

If it's still dead or wont' be charged, check the warranty of battery and get it tested for a pro rated exchange.

That's the cheapest way to diagnose this before going up in spending to replace the alternator.

A charger and a new battery may run you what? May be $250?
Deal Fanatic
Jul 26, 2007
6726 posts
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Toronto
Battery maintainer $50
Battery from Costco $100
Alternator refurb/reman/new $200 to $500

I would pick the least expensive and do it first. Since you don't seem to drive the car to give it a good charge, why not start there. $50 and day of charge is all you need. There is a good chance you fookup the battery by draining it either parasite or by you continuously cranking it and driving/idling for 10min.
Deal Guru
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Mar 13, 2004
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Ontario
My opinion would be since your battery is already around 4 years old & the average life of batteries now is around 5 years give or take your money is better spent buying a new battery. My suggestion would be go to Costco and buy a new one (or order online from costco.ca)

Replace the battery and give it a try & also test with a multimeter to check if the alternator is charging it properly. IF it ends up being the alternator then tow it to your mechanic (Not crappy tire) and let them deal with it. The reason why I suggest this is because if the alternator is bad and the battery being already a few years old you might as well replace both IMO.
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Oct 2, 2018
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If this were me i would....
Firstly i would start car and check the voltage across the battery terminals, as previous posters mentioned 13.5 to 14.5 or thereabouts is ideal, as a good working alternator charges at that range and that eliminates the costly side of repairs on this one. Any lower and you have a problem.

Next i would turn my attention to the battery. The battery when fully charged should be around the 12.5 volt range vehicle turned off when not in use, slightly higher than the 12v rated. Since your car battery is basically dead you will need to put the battery on a charger first unfortunately.

If you had that then i would turn my attention to a load test on the battery however you will want to charge your battery up fully before running the test. Not everyone has a battery charger, multi meter or load tester......only quick answer to that dilemma is to ask a neighbour who may have some stuff in his garage if he is a car guy.

Next if my alternator and battery checked out i would turn my attention to terminal connections and corrosion that has settled in.

Sounds like you don't have a lot of tools or extra battery laying round so i would check alternator voltage when running and if 13.5 to 14.5v i would just double check corrosion on the battery terminals and then just replace the battery as at that point 95% of the time it is the battery. Batteries are not that expensive overall from a Costco, and with Alternator issue eliminated (the high cost item) that would be my path if i did not have the diagnostic tools around like battery chargers or load testers.

You really do need to check that alternator voltage see that is the expensive piece, if it is pooched no use replacing the battery only to have to replace the alternator afterwards as you replaced the wrong item. Determine the alternator is fine, then replace the lower cost battery yourself.
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Aug 30, 2020
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Check the battery thread. I would get a multimeter and check voltage while engine is running. basic test.
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Feb 15, 2021
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MB-Formerly GTA
CanadianConsumerYEG wrote: Check the battery thread. I would get a multimeter and check voltage while engine is running. basic test.
You can usually buy an inexpensive multi meter at Cdn Tire to do this test. If this test passes, I would next charge the battery overnight, then see if it starts the car. If it does, next is the poor mans load test. Rather than buy a load tester (Cdn Tire does sell them, cannot remember how much), turn on your headlights for 10 minutes with the car not running. Then try and start the car. If the car starts, your battery is probably okay. If car does not start, check the connections, but chances are that your battery is cooked. If the battery and alternator check out, you may have some other intermittent issue in the starting system.

One way or another, you will need to acquire a battery charger and multi meter if you want to try and fix this yourself. Otherwise, take it to a mechanic.
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
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Vancouver, BC
EasyCompany251 wrote: My understanding is that once a car is started/cranked over- all electrical power should be supplied by the alternator; as well as the alternator charging the battery. Based on your symptoms, I would suspect the alternator.
For the most part but the battery also acts as a shock absorber for the alternator and smooths out the power supplied to the rest of the car. You need a decent battery for the car to run.
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
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Ballroomblitz1 wrote: Next i would turn my attention to the battery. The battery when fully charged should be around the 12.5 volt range vehicle turned off when not in use, slightly higher than the 12v rated.
Depends on the condition of the battery. The newer the battery, the higher the voltage a fully charged battery would show. Also, if the battery has been charging, you need to let the battery rest for several hours for the charge to stabilize within the battery before measuring the voltage as it will steadily drop from the 14.4V charging voltage for several hours. A brand new fully charged battery that has sat overnight and disconnected from any load will easily read into the 12.9V or higher range.

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