We are hiring! Join the Neighborhood Tire Pros Team!

What Is the Difference Between a Battery Problem vs. Alternator Problem


The alternator and car battery are pivotal to starting your vehicle’s engine. However, it can be difficult to distinguish a charging problem vs. a starting problem. Today, we are bringing you the key differences between a car battery and an alternator and their failing symptoms.

Functions of a Car Battery

The car battery is responsible for holding chemical energy which eventually gets converted to electrical energy to power the engine. It starts the ignition system and is a major power source for the rest of the car. When the battery is getting used, it gets recharged by the alternator. However, the battery deteriorates over time. It is recommended that you replace your vehicle’s battery every 3-5 years.

Signs of a Bad Battery

  1. 5 years or older
  2. Slow engine starts
  3. Corrosion on the battery - typically looks white, blue, or green and clings onto the battery terminals
  4. Frequent jump starts
  5. Battery Warning Light Illuminated

Functions of an Alternator

The alternator directly powers many of your car’s accessories like headlights, power windows, radio, windshield wipers, and dashboard instruments. Furthermore, the alternator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy to recharge your car battery when the engine is on.

Signs of a Bad Alternator

  1. Unusual noses under the hood - indicate belt slipping
  2. Dim, flickering, or other inconsistent behavior from the vehicle’s headlights and interior lighting
  3. Malfunctioning accessories
  4. Drained battery
  5. Burning smell
  6. Electrical/battery warning light on

As you can see, the alternator and the battery have overlapping signs when they go bad, and diagnosing the problem on your own may be challenging. To be certain of the problem, we recommend bringing your vehicle to the experts here at Neighborhood Tire Pros. Whether you need a battery replacement or alternator repairs, we welcome you to give our team a call or visit today.