Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

A dead battery or is it the starter?

I have a 1995 nissian maxima, my car will not start, my dad thinks its the car battery, but I don’t think that’s the case, because if the battery is completly dead then the lights, radio, etc won’t be coming on, right? I just know when I try to start the car I get a clicking sound coming from under the hood. This is where my dad also thinks it could be the starter, but when I agree with him its suddenly the battery to blame. I don’t know which one it is, but it could both the battery and starter? Need expert advice. Thanks guys!

The battery can have enough power to turn on lights but not enough to turn the engine over. It is more likely that your battery is the problem, maybe your alternator, go have them tested.

Most likely the battery. Note: have the battery AND the charging system checked. Also consider that it may be nothing more than a battery cable not making good contact. How old is the current battery?

A battery doesn’t have to be dead to not have enough power to run the starter. The lights just need a little power. The starter needs a LOT!
Corrosion in the the battery cable loop (terminal) is often the cause of low power to the starter. Disconnect the battery cables and use a file, or knife, to remove the corrosion in the loops. Smear petroleum jelly on the battery posts and reattach the battery cables.
Take the truck to an auto parts store for a free battery and alternator check. If the alternator is overcharging, that can cause corrosion to form on the battery posts and terminals.

Battery, cable connections, and charging system should be checked, as others have already said.

It take little current to light the lights, a;most none to operate the radio, but a whole bunch to turn the engine over with the starter. A weak battery can have enough power to light the lights and run the radio but not turn the engine over.

That click you hear is the starter solenoid. When you turn the key to “start”, the solenoid magnetically slides a shaft forward engaging the starter motor’s teeth with the flywheel and connecting the circuit to the motor windings through internal electrical contacts. Like the lights and radio, the solenoid itself takes little juice to operate. A weak batter can and often does have enough juice to energize the solenoid but not enough to turn the engine over via the starter motor.

If the battery, connections, and charging system check out okay, then what’s happening is that the solenoid is activating but the contacts that complete the circuit to the motor windings are fried. At that point you’ll need a new (rebuilt) starter assembly.

If you happen to rule out the battery, you might also want to double check all the wires are plugged into the starter. Sometimes you can just reach in there and plug in a loose wire back in.

Same thing happened to my Kia, and left it stranded for two days and when I called AAA to tow it to a shop they found a lose wire and got it going again.