How to Keep Your Car from Overheating
Even if you love the heat of summer, but you need to help your car keep its cool when temperatures rise. An engine that runs too hot can damage the...Read more about How to Keep Your Car from Overheating
You go to start your car, but when you engage the ignition, your car won’t start — and your stomach sinks. If your car won’t start, it’s often due to a malfunction of either the battery or the alternator. If it’s one of those things, recognizing which one can be relatively simple.
Starting and running an engine, in its simplest form, is a 3-step process. First, the battery delivers a jolt of electricity to the starter. This starts the engine running, which puts the alternator into action. Finally, the alternator completes this cycle by charging the battery.
Using the process of elimination, find the culprit by bypassing the battery’s role and jump-starting your car. If the engine starts but dies immediately, your alternator probably isn’t keeping your battery charged. If a jump starts and keeps your car running, but the car can’t start again off of its own power, a dead battery is probably your answer.
Check for these common symptoms of a dead battery:
If the above steps reveal that the battery is working, it’s time to take a closer look at the alternator. There are certain bad alternator symptoms to look for. Find out how to tell if your alternator is bad¹²:
While your car can run with a faulty alternator for a short period of time, doing so includes risks and can be dangerous for you and everyone else on the road. Driving on a bad alternator can cause a variety of issues in other parts of your car, including the engine and electrical components. Also, your car’s battery will deplete eventually, causing your car to die. If you don’t have the resources available to jump your car and find yourself in a remote area, this could leave you stranded. Your vehicle can also lose power on its power steering, which can result in you losing control of your car. For these reasons, it’s best to get your alternator fixed to protect yourself and other drivers on the road.³
Fixing your battery or alternator can be an expensive repair. See how you can find the right mechanic to work on your vehicle. Make sure you have roadside assistance so you can get help if your car won’t start.
 “Is your car battery dead?” autozone.com/diy/battery/is-your-car-battery-dead Accessed, February 28, 2022.
 “10 Warning Signs Your Car Battery is Dying,” valleyhondadealers.com/blog/10-warning-signs-your-car-battery-is-dying/ Accessed, February 28, 2022.
 “Can A Car Run With A Bad Alternator (Risks Of Driving With A Bad Alternator),” Jeffery Ekweghi, autovfix.com/can-a-car-run-with-a-bad-alternator-risks-of-driving-with-a-bad-alternator/ Accessed, Feb. 28, 2022.
Additional car issues resources:
The information included is designed for informational purposes only. It is not legal, tax, financial or any other sort of advice, nor is it a substitute for such advice. The information may not apply to your specific situation. We have tried to make sure the information is accurate, but it could be outdated or even inaccurate in parts. It is the reader’s responsibility to comply with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, its affiliates and their employees make no warranties about the information nor guarantee of results, and they assume no liability in connection with the information provided. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2022 Nationwide