How to know it’s time for a new battery or alternator, and what to do about it

As a car owner, there are few things more inconvenient than a sudden vehicle breakdown. Two of the most common culprits behind these unexpected issues are the car’s battery and alternator. Understanding when it’s time for a replacement and taking proactive steps can save you from being stranded and ensure your vehicle runs smoothly.

Signs that your battery needs replacing

  1. Difficulty starting the car: If your engine cranks slowly or refuses to start, it might be a sign that your battery is losing its charge. 
  2. Dim lights: Headlights and interior lights that appear dimmer than usual, especially when the car is idling, often indicate a weak battery.
  3. Electrical issues: Malfunctions with electrical components like the radio, power windows, or dashboard lights can also point to battery problems.
  4. Visible corrosion: Check for white, ashy deposits around the battery terminals, which can interfere with its performance.
  5. Old age: If your battery is over three to five years old, it’s likely nearing the end of its lifespan.

Signs that your alternator needs replacing

  1. Warning light: The battery warning light on your dashboard illuminates while driving. This is often your first sign that the alternator might be failing.
  2. Dim or flickering lights: Inconsistent lighting, such as headlights dimming or flickering, indicates that the alternator isn’t providing stable power.
  3. Strange noises: Whining or grinding noises from the engine area can suggest problems with the alternator bearings.
  4. Dead battery: A failing alternator can cause the battery to drain quickly because it isn’t being recharged properly.
  5. Electrical failures: Intermittent operation or complete failure of electrical accessories could signal an alternator issue.

Steps to take

To determine whether the issue lies with your battery or alternator, start by checking the battery voltage, says Frank Rovelli, CEO of Probe Group. “Use a multimeter for this task; a healthy battery should read around 12.6 volts when the car is off. This will give you a good indication of whether your battery is holding a charge properly or if there might be an issue requiring further investigation.”

Next, Rovelli says to try jump-starting the car. “If the car starts with a jump but dies shortly after removing the jumper cables, the alternator is likely at fault. On the other hand, if the car stays running but struggles to start again later, it is more probable that the battery is the issue. This simple test can save you a lot of time and help pinpoint which component needs attention.”

Rovelli says it’s also important to inspect the alternator belt to ensure it is tight and in good condition. A loose or damaged belt can impair the alternator’s performance, leading to symptoms that might be mistaken for a failing alternator or battery. Regular checks and maintenance of the belt can prevent such problems from occurring.

Finally, for an accurate diagnosis, take your vehicle to a professional mechanic. Many auto parts stores and repair shops offer free testing for batteries and alternators, including Probe branches around the country. “An expert can provide a thorough assessment and confirm whether you need a replacement, helping you address the issue with confidence. Taking these steps not only resolves the immediate problem but also ensures your vehicle remains reliable in the future,” advises Rovelli.

When it’s time for a replacement, choosing high-quality components is crucial. Frank Rovelli, CEO of Probe Group, emphasises, “At Probe Group, we understand the importance of reliability and performance in automotive parts. Our batteries and alternators are engineered to meet the highest standards, ensuring longevity and consistent power for your vehicle.”

Probe batteries are designed with a maintenance-free concept, providing both convenience and durability with minimal upkeep required. Probe offers batteries for a wide array of applications, ranging from everyday passenger vehicles to industrial machinery. They incorporate advanced technology, designed to optimise efficiency and enhance reliability.

For customers looking to find the perfect match for their specific vehicle model, Probe Group offers an online battery selector. This user-friendly tool simplifies the selection process, allowing you to quickly and easily identify the ideal battery for your needs.

Probe alternators cater to a diverse range of vehicles and machinery, ensuring that there is a suitable option for almost any application. These alternators are built to high-quality standards, ensuring robust performance and long-lasting durability. Probe Group also prides itself on providing comprehensive support to its customers, offering excellent customer service and after-sales assistance. Their commitment to quality and reliability ensures that your vehicle or machinery remains powered efficiently and consistently.

Recognising the signs of a failing battery or alternator early can save you from unexpected breakdowns. With the right knowledge and high-quality replacements, you can ensure your vehicle remains reliable and efficient.

For more information on our products and services, visit Probe Group and discover how we can help keep your vehicle running smoothly.

Feel free to reach out to Probe Group for any enquiries or further assistance.
We’re here to keep your journey safe and uninterrupted.