My car won’t start! And I just put a new battery in it. What could possibly be the problem?
I do not want to tow my car to the shop and don’t want to pay a bunch of money. It seems like this problem may be over my head.
Good news, it is not over your head and I am confident you can solve why your car won’t start after a new battery has been installed!
A car that won’t start after replacing the battery is caused by either a bad battery connection, or a faulty starter, or a fuse. Replacing the battery means that your battery was not the issue. The alternator is not the problem either. The most common easiest fix is a tight batter connection.
That’s right, the first thing that you should be checking that very well may be the solution is a loose battery cable.
Really the pro tip when dealing with car issues especially something like a car that won’t start is patience and taking a step back to see the big picture and the obvious.
Usually an issue like this is resolved easily. Wait until you have at least tried all the 3 or 4 simple things that you can check before taking your car to the shop. It will certainly save you money, but can even save you time. Often a trip to the car shop can rob you of hours of your time. Just think of the time of you and a family member driving to and from the shop twice, the time to explain and fill out paperwork, and the time you are left without a car.
1. Loose Battery Connection Prevents a Car from Starting Even With a New Battery
Could be connection. Ensure the battery cables are clean and actually use a wrench or socket to tighten them
Simply take a wrench or socket and tighten the connections at the battery terminals. This may yExplain here what could be the problems once the battery has been replaced
If you need an excellent very affordable socket set. One of the favorite most convenient cheap tools that I have is a 1/4″ socket set. Go to my resource page where I have bundled all of my tool recommendations together in one place that will save you tons of research time!
2. Faulty Starter Will Prevent Your Car From Starting Even With a New Battery
Starters do go bad and you can tell if the starter is bad if the battery is charged and all electrical systems work except the battery. Such as the headlights are bright, the horn and key fob work, but when you turn the key nothing happens. This very well may be the starter.
Before doing the work to check if the starter is the problem, inspect the battery terminal connections. A loose battery terminal connection will prevent power from being able to turn the starter over even if the lights and other electrical items that draw less power still work.
The Starter Solenoid Is Most Likely What has gone bad in the Starter
If you are stuck out somewhere with this issue, there is a chance that the starter solenoid is the culprit and if it is you can fix it!
It is a very simple fix to resolve a stuck starter solenoid. They get stuck in place from high current arcing and sticking the contacts together. Simply tap on the side of the starter with a hammer and try starting it again! The simple tapping on the starter housing can free up the starter solenoid.
The last way to test if it is the starter, run a wire directly from the battery (+) and touch it to the starter (+). If it turns, then of course the battery is not the culprit.
3. A Blown Fuse Will Prevent Your Car From Starting Even With a New Battery
Since you are stuck somewhere, you are going to want to try the simplest things and the things that can possibly be repaired on the road rather than having to have your car towed to the shop.
A blown fuse is one of those obvious things that is a very easy fix and is simple to check.
If the fuses are labeled, remove and inspect the fuse labeled ignition. Otherwise simply check all the fuses one by one and see if any have blown. A blown fuse may have been caused by a surge in the electrical system, or another component went bad, and if you’re lucky then all you have to do is replace the fuse and you’re back on the road!
If it is neither of these 3 primary causes, then read my article about diagnosing a starting issue by the symptom of the car.
How to tell if it is the Alternator the Battery or the Starter
Know which is the problem by what the car does with a new battery installed. The battery provides power to turn the starter over. If it cranks (rrr-rrr sound) it is not the battery or starter that is the problem. If the car starts and runs but then won’t turn over from a dead battery then it is the alternator not properly charging the car.
If the car makes a rapid clicking sound, then the battery is low or dead. If the car turns over (makes a rrr-rrr sound) then the battery and starter are fine. If the car makes no noise at all but the battery is dead, or has a poor electrical connection.
Put link to battery meter
Use a multimeter read 11.5v-12.5v
While the car is running check the battery voltage again
Should read at least 13v
If the voltage reading is below 12v while running then the alternator is not providing the power required and is the culprit
Replace the alternator
If the battery is low place it on a trickle charger fir a few hours then check the voltage and start the car
If the battery discharges quickly or will not reach 12v then it is bad
Is it my Battery or Starter, or Possibly the Alternator – How to Tell
If the battery is bad, it will not hold a charge between 12.6 and 12.8 volts. If the alternator is bad, the battery will read less than 13.5 volts while the car is running. You can tell the starter is bad if the battery is charged, securely connected, and if it will not turn when a voltage is applied directly to the starter.
Determining if it is the Battery, Starter, or Alternator Without a Meter
Most often, we have car starting issues when we are out and about and do not have special tools with us like a multimeter. I do recommend keeping one with your tool set and you can see all of my other recommended tools on my other page, but how do we check the alternator and battery and starter without a multimeter?
Here is a personal real story to explain a good way to figure it out without any tools.
I once drove my car full of friends to an outing where we rented a couple motorboats. We parked in the boating parking lot and after several hours of fun came back to our car to get some food. The car would not start! In fact it didn’t make any noise at all.
As I tried to think what the problem might be, I thought of the symptoms exhibited.
The car wasn’t slowing down as I drove up – not the alternator
No lights were left on so it did not drain the battery – probably not battery but still possible
The final clue was we tried to jump start the car and nothing happened.
With that, I knew I should have checked the most obvious first. The battery terminal connections. These battery terminals has an odd screw mechanism that was difficult to tighten but as soon as I disconnected, reconnected and tightened the battery connections, bam! The car fired right up.
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