starter vs battery

How Do You Tell If It's Your Starter Or Your Battery?

Daniel McDonald
Daniel McDonald5 min read
How Do You Tell If It's Your Starter Or Your Battery?

How Do You Tell If It's Your Starter Or Your Battery?


If your car is not starting and instead gives this creepy, dreaded noise, don't be alarmed right away. Though it is a widespread problem that happens to anyone, there may be a simple fix you can do all alone.

The most common problem with every car that refuses to start is either in the starter or the battery. It is normal if you do not know the difference in the starter vs. battery battle.

We will share the most common reasons your car won't start and all the possible fixes. After scanning this article, you will become a pro in fixing battery or starter problems!


Check The Car Battery

The dead battery is the first thing you must look for if your car refuses to start. Though car batteries have a four- or five-year lifespan, there are moments when the storm abruptly drains, leaving you without your beloved vehicle.  

A car battery can die for several reasons: if you leave your interior lights on for a long time if your door doesn't shut properly, if your battery catches corrosion, if you find yourself in extreme weather conditions (especially very cold weather), if the battery terminals are at fault, etc.

Lucky for you, the car battery is among the cheapest car parts. If you can't get your car running, it may come back to life once you give it a little push, just enough to get you to your mechanic or nearest shop.


Indications Of A Dead Battery

A clicking or whining noise is the first sign of a car battery problem. If your car makes this clicking sound when you try to start it, it is a sign that the battery is dead.

Another indicator of a dead battery is if the vehicle starts after you give it a little push, and it won't start again after you shut it off.

A third way to determine a dead car battery is to check for visible indicators on the electrical components. For example, if the battery has the warning light on, then it is safe to assume that the battery is flat.

All of the above, plus the need to jump-start your vehicle, indicate that your battery is dead. Many of these indicators can also indicate a battery alternator problem.  


How To Fix It?


If your battery is dead, you need to replace it. Check if you have a warranty and can still use it to get a replacement. Still, if you are not sure that the battery is the problem, it is better to take your car to the mechanic.

Some of the indicators we mentioned before can be confused with a bad alternator, so it is safer to turn the car over to a professional if you don't consider yourself a car expert.

A quick fix to get you to your mechanics' office is to jump-start the car.  


Check The Starter


Aside from the battery alternator, your car may be experiencing starter problems. The car starter is connected to the battery, so if the battery doesn't work, the starter will have no energy to start the car.

If your starter fails to do its job, you will get nowhere. This is because the starter, which receives its power from the battery, converts that power to electrical energy that fuels the car's electrical system. Without a functioning starter, there isn't enough power to start the vehicle.

The starter can fail for many reasons, such as loose wires, corrosion, damaged parts, oil leaks, or a lousy fuse or relay. The most common way to determine a starter problem is to see if the engine dies when you turn the key. Also, the dashboard lights should be on.    


Indications Of Bad Starter


A couple of things indicate a failing starter:

·        Weird clicking or growling sound after you try to start the engine;

·        Instead of starting, the car turns on the dash lights;

·        If you try to jump-start the vehicle, it does do a thing;

·        Smoke or oil comes out of your car.


How To Fix It?


In most cases, if your starter is not working properly, there is nothing you can do about it except take your car to the mechanics. If you still want to give it a go at fixing it, here are some tips you can try:

Check if the problem is in the battery; maybe the cables are too loose, or the battery is not working correctly for some reason;

Get a hard object and gently tap the starter, like tapping the tv remote when it's not working; this may get the power going just enough to get you to the closest certified technician.

Try adjusting the transmission to neutral; if the car starts in neutral, then there is some technical issue that needs to be fixed;

If nothing works, you have no choice but to take the car to a service center.


What If The Problem Is Something Else?


If the battery checks out and the starter is okay, you may need to check for the car's alternator or the fuel. 5 out of 10 times, people don't realize that their gas tank is empty or there is some defect in the fuel gauge. Or the reason may be a bad alternator that can overwhelm the vehicle's charging system.

A failing alternator is a common cause right after a bad battery. Also, the fuel filters can quickly get clogged, which will cause the gas not to reach the engine. If this is the problem, you need to clean your filters and prevent this from happening again by cleaning them every 15000 kilometers.  




Though replacing a battery or jump-starting your car seems like an easy fix, it is better to call roadside assistance if your vehicle experiences these problems. Asking for help will save you some trouble and eliminate the risk of causing a surge and overpowering the car.

But, before you start panicking, check the battery. There is a chance that the fix is as simple as adjusting the battery cables. Do not ask for help until you've tried every fix in this article.





Which Signs Indicate A Bad Starter?


If your starter needs fixing, then you will be experiencing the following indicators: your engine will not start, there will be a weird clicking noise or grinding noise, there is an oil leak, there is smoke, there is an odd smell of burning rubber, the dash lights are on, but the car won't start, etc.


Will I Be Able To Jump A Vehicle With Bad Starter?


While this is possible, it is not a long-term solution. You boost the battery when you jump-start your car while the starter stays intact. Take your vehicle to a car service center to fix any starter problems.


Could Bad Starter Drain The Car Battery?


Yes, a bad starter can drain the car battery. If you try to start your car consistently with a faulty starter, you risk the battery overcharging.