We will take dozens and dozens of “my car won’t start!!!” phone calls in the colder months. If you’re very lucky, this will happen in your garage or driveway. If you’re not really lucky, this will happen in a snowstorm, in the dark, miles away from anyone who can help you. Of course, maintenance is key!
Your car will often—but not always– tell you it needs battery/starter attention if you know what to listen for.
- If you try to start your car and it sounds like it wants to start, like it’s almost getting there but it just doesn’t have enough UUMPH, that’s likely your battery. You may even be able to get it started when it’s like that a time or two after you hear it. But maybe you won’t. Maybe that’s it’s death knell, it’s very last dying breath.
- If your car goes “click click click” when you turn the key, but the engine itself doesn’t make noise, it could be the battery OR the starter.
- If you get absolutely NO sounds when you try to start it, but all your dash lights come on, radio comes on etc., you’ve likely got a bad starter.
A low battery will be able to be jumped.
A dead battery may not take a jump.
A dead starter will laugh at your jumper cables.
Both battery and starter issues are common, easily fixed, and relatively inexpensive; but a complete drag if you use your car every day. Luckily for you, these two things can be checked by the awesome ASE-certified technicians at Beany’s! We can check your battery strength as well as the amp draw on your starter next time you come into the shop. We like to check the battery and starter twice a year. (Disclaimer: * Sometimes a starter will be fine today and break tomorrow, so it’s not fool proof, but still, it’s worth checking)
If your car battery is four and a half years old (or more!), it’s definitely time to start seriously thinking about replacing it. We sell a number of battery brands at the shop in order to fit your budget. A new Interstate Battery (top of the line, what we most recommend), installed, starts around $175. They have 60 month warranties, and the warranty is effective wherever Interstate batteries are sold, which is all over the US.
There’s really nothing you can do to lengthen the life of your starter, but battery longevity can be extended by taking good care to turn out ALL your lights when you’ve turned off the car (I have a serial “I left the cabin light on last night!” person in my house, so I get it!), and not running the car in “auxiliary” power to power up your electronic devices. Corrosion around the terminals can also cause problems, but we’ll take care of that when you visit. Otherwise, simply expect it to last between four and five years.
Best battery and starter practices:
- Listen to your car when you start it . Notice if it’s taking too long to start or sounds like it’s struggling
- Have your battery and started checked now, and again in the Spring
- Have jumper cables on hand, in your car, at all times. KNOW HOW TO USE THEM
- Have the number of a reputable tow service in your car, in case you break down, and have them tow your car to Beany’s if it won’t start