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post #1 of 22 Old 11-11-2016, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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Bad Battery or Bad Alternator?

Hi, I've noticed in the last few weeks as the weather has gotten colder my car has a harder time to start. I noticed this more after changing my oil to synthetic but I doubt this is the cause of the problem. I've jumped started my car twice, it seems like the battery holds its charge for about a week then dies. How can I distinguish if the problem lies within a bad battery or bad alternator?


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post #2 of 22 Old 11-12-2016, 02:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Canucsfan101 View Post
Hi, I've noticed in the last few weeks as the weather has gotten colder my car has a harder time to start. I noticed this more after changing my oil to synthetic but I doubt this is the cause of the problem. I've jumped started my car twice, it seems like the battery holds its charge for about a week then dies. How can I distinguish if the problem lies within a bad battery or bad alternator?


Thanks!
Let me think of all the possibilities:

1. Just double checking, did you use the right viscosity for your oil? 8th Gens run on 5W-20, although 0W-20 works too, especially you live in somewhere cold.

2. Any mods(especially non-OEM ones) involving electrical components? Improperly installed mods can rob battery of its power.
One of my friends installed a massive subwoofer on his VW Golf GTI, and his car battery died twice after installation. Turns out, he installed the switch in a wrong location and it kept draining the battery after the car is off. He fixed that, and no more dead battery.
Check any parasitic power draw with a voltmeter, and also check the surface of the battery. If it's dirty enough, it can also become conductive and become a parasitic power draw (according to EricTheCarGuy).

3. Is it really cold at where you live? If so, check your battery's Cold Cranking Amp, which shows you the peak current at 0 F(about -17 C). You may want to consider getting a battery with higher Cold Cranking Amp, which makes it easier to start your car in cold weather.

4. How old is your battery? While they last a long while, they do eventually go bad. If it is more than 5 years old, consider getting a new one if it keeps happening.

5. Does the low battery icon flash/light up when you drive your car? That means the alternator is bad.


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post #3 of 22 Old 11-12-2016, 03:49 AM
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Time for a battery replacement...they don't last forever.

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post #4 of 22 Old 11-12-2016, 05:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the Reply,

1. Oil which I switched to is a full synthetic 5w-20

2. The car has a wire installation for the sub that is connected near the battery. However I bought the car like this and didn't see any problems of current being drawn.

3. The weather isnt to bad it's about 8 to 14 degrees Celsius

4. I believe the battery is OEM and hasn't been changed in a few years.

5. There is no light flashing.


Answering your questions I think it is more than likely a bad battery.

Thanks for the help!!!
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post #5 of 22 Old 11-12-2016, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Canucsfan101 View Post
Thanks for the Reply,

1. Oil which I switched to is a full synthetic 5w-20

2. The car has a wire installation for the sub that is connected near the battery. However I bought the car like this and didn't see any problems of current being drawn.

3. The weather isnt to bad it's about 8 to 14 degrees Celsius

4. I believe the battery is OEM and hasn't been changed in a few years.

5. There is no light flashing.

Answering your questions I think it is more than likely a bad battery.

Thanks for the help!!!
Should be the battery then.

One word of advice: shop around. The OEM ones are not very good, according to most people. Almost nobody uses the OEM ones again once the factory ones die. I heard the issue is that they don't have enough CCA, making them useless in colder climates. Get one that has a good reputation and a long warranty. Good luck!

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post #6 of 22 Old 11-12-2016, 05:30 PM
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Just go to the auto parts store. They can check the battery and alternator. A bad alternator wouldn't output the right voltage, which is around 14 volts I believe.
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post #7 of 22 Old 11-12-2016, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by salcuta88 View Post
Just go to the auto parts store. They can check the battery and alternator. A bad alternator wouldn't output the right voltage, which is around 14 volts I believe.
Wouldn't the car light up(or flash, can't remember) the low battery indicator if there is something wrong with the alternator?

Good point, though.

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post #8 of 22 Old 11-13-2016, 05:21 AM
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If the car is struggle to start you have three common things to look at.
Battery, starter, alternator.

If you can drive the car after it starts and maintain battery power it's not the alternator. It's pretty obvious when it's the alternator imho, cause the car will need to be boost s then will die again shortly after.

Get a volt meter and test the battery after you shut off the car it should be over 13v I believe with the car off and high 13s with car running. Then next day before you start the car volt test the battery again. If the battery is much lower then before, replace the battery.

If battery level is basically the same as when you turned the car off the day before then I'd be inclined to say it's the starter.

I have had all those issues before. I have replaced al of those components before on my previous cars.

Most commonly it is the battery though, and I always say, upgrade your battery. Get the best one you can afford to fit in there. It's the heart of the electrical system, cheaping out on that is just senseless.

I will certainly be upgrading my battery when she does fade, but right now the car starts like she's brand new.

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post #9 of 22 Old 11-13-2016, 07:36 AM
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Classic signs of battery problems. Get a free battery check at Walmart, Autozone or OReilly.

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post #10 of 22 Old 11-18-2016, 09:13 PM
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Well my battery went bad and replaced it and then two weeks later my alternator went completely dead, it was not providing any charge. Freaked me out at first, as it started loosing power, transmission wasn't shifting properly, slipping in lower gears and car would not go in reverse, dash lit up like a Christmas Tree. Limped to the dealer and had new alternator installed and she was back to normal.
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post #11 of 22 Old 11-18-2016, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by DenAccord View Post
Well my battery went bad and replaced it and then two weeks later my alternator went completely dead, it was not providing any charge. Freaked me out at first, as it started loosing power, transmission wasn't shifting properly, slipping in lower gears and car would not go in reverse, dash lit up like a Christmas Tree. Limped to the dealer and had new alternator installed and she was back to normal.
The stress of having to recharge your bad battery did in the alternator.


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post #12 of 22 Old 11-18-2016, 10:55 PM
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The stress of having to recharge your bad battery did in the alternator.
Can a dead battery do that? I didn't know that.

My dad's friend used to have a BMW that had a bad battery that my dad was driving for a while. Had to jump start it every time. He tried to take it for a long drive, still no charge. The alternator was OK since the car ran fine after starting.

I keep a battery charger now after learning that alternator is designed to sustain the charge in battery, rather than recharging it.

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post #13 of 22 Old 11-19-2016, 03:53 AM
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Can a dead battery do that? I didn't know that.
Yes...Yes it can. $1k later for my altenator, my battery went too.

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post #14 of 22 Old 11-19-2016, 05:27 AM
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Yesterday mine acted funny when it started it wouldn't start after I crank it twice and seemed totally dead just after two tries I pop the hood wiggle the connections turned off the air conditioner and it fired right up the battery is only 6 months old and the alternator is only one year old I think it's best to keep your car in the garage if it's an older model like my 2003

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post #15 of 22 Old 11-19-2016, 07:10 AM
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Most likey your battery is old and needs to be replaced. Here are the things to check.

1. Battery connections, they need to be clean and tight.
2. Ground connection at the body, it needs to be clean and tight.
3. Make sure the battery cables have no corrosion wicking up under the coating.
4. Make sure the ground cable from the engine to the body is still in place and in good shape.
5. Check the battery voltage first thing in the morning before you start the car, a fully charged battery would read 12.6v.
6. While the car is running with the headlights on check voltage at the battery should be Above 13 volts.
7. Check the serpentine belt to be sure it does not need to be replaced.

So if the standing voltage is much below 12.6 it is not fully charged or able to hold a full charge.

The alternator produces current to run the car and charge the battery. As long as you see voltage above 13 with the lights on your alternator is probably fine.

Most parts stores will check your battery for free.

Replace the battery with the highest CCA and the best warranty and the best price.


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