You didn’t leave a car door open or a light on. (We believe you.) But your vehicle just won’t start. You turn on the ignition, and all you get is the telltale clicking noise. Possibly followed by competing pronouncements of “Your battery’s dead” and “It’s your alternator” from anyone within earshot.
We can settle the debate. If you can jump-start your vehicle, find your nearest Midas. (If you can’t, have it towed to Midas.) We’ll diagnose and fix your starting system -- or help you choose a replacement battery.
Our Midas Auto Service Experts® take the time to thoroughly explain your vehicle’s condition, telling you which problems are urgent (and which can wait). We discuss the best options for your budget and provide a written estimate before making any repairs. Request an appointment today.
If your vehicle won’t start, it’s most likely a problem with your battery or the ignition and starting system:
Your battery is drained (but healthy): It’s the best-case scenario: you accidentally left on your lights, or some other battery-draining feature. A jump start will send you on your way, lesson learned.
Your battery is too old to hold a charge: It’s time for a new battery. If your jump start fails – or your car won’t start the next day – have your battery tested.
Your starting system needs service: It’s not your battery. There’s a mechanical problem preventing ignition, draining your battery, or keeping your battery from charging as you drive.
If a single jump start doesn’t solve your starting problems, have your battery professionally tested. If your battery is healthy, it’s time for diagnostic service, beginning with your starter and alternator.
Why won’t my car start if it’s not the battery?
If your vehicle won’t start with a fully-charged and healthy battery, the usual suspects are problems with your starter, your alternator, your ignition switch, your spark plugs or your fuses. It’s also worthwhile to clean your battery terminals and connectors if they’re dirty or corroded and see if your car will start. But the only way to be sure your battery is healthy is to test it with a voltmeter. When you have your vehicle towed to Midas, it’s the first thing we’ll check.
From the easiest-to-fix to the most complicated, here are the most common reasons your vehicle’s battery can’t hold a charge:
Corrosion around the battery terminals: Your local Midas technician will visually inspect these during every Midas Closer Look Vehicle Check™1 and can clean away corrosion safely.
Something’s draining your battery: Check every light switch, door (liftgate included), and lighted compartment in your vehicle. You may be leaving a door slightly ajar, or a faulty latch could appear closed but is allowing your lights to stay on overnight.
End of battery life: Every car battery has a finite charging capacity, testable with a voltmeter machine.
A bad alternator: The alternator is responsible for recharging your battery as you drive, so it’s one of the first mechanical problems to check.
The best time to think about your car battery is before it goes dead and leaves you stranded. So, we’re here to test your battery regularly and replace it when its voltage is low… but not too low.
When should a car battery be replaced?
A car battery should be replaced when its capacity has dropped below 12 volts -- which happens to most batteries after three to seven years of use. Here are some signs that your battery is running critically low:
Your battery won’t accept a charge: You hear rapid clicks instead of your engine cranking -- and jump-starting doesn’t help. You’ll need a new battery to get rolling again.
Your battery can’t hold a charge: Jump-starting works, but you have to jump-start repeatedly. Replace your battery as soon as you can. You’re at risk of being stranded.
Your battery shows low voltage on a voltmeter.
How does car battery testing work?
Request a car battery check appointment at the first sign of trouble starting your vehicle (unless you drained the battery by accident, and a jump start solves the problem indefinitely). Your local Midas technician will test your battery’s voltage with a voltmeter and help you select a new battery if the time has come. If your battery’s healthy, we’ll diagnose the real problem.
How do you test your car battery if your car won’t start?
You’ll get the most thorough testing by having your vehicle towed to your nearest Midas. If you remove your battery and bring it to Midas, we can test it --- but we won’t be able to test your charging system. (That’s the next step if we find your battery is in good shape.)
How long does a car battery last?
Most car batteries last from three to seven years, depending on climate and driving patterns. With such a long time window for your battery to potentially fail, it’s smart to incorporate battery testing into your regular maintenance cycle. Don’t get stranded!
How long does it take to replace a car battery?
At Midas, it takes 20-30 minutes to replace a car battery on most vehicles. Our battery replacement service includes cleaning the battery tray and terminals to get rid of battery acid and other debris. We also recycle your old battery.
What size battery do I need for my car?
Your vehicle owner’s manual will tell you what size battery you need. Your local Midas technician can answer any questions you have about the battery specifications for your make and model.