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Battery or Alternator?

My 1997 Mercury Sable has been having a rough time starting lately. It will turn over, but 2 out of 3 starts will be labored. It will crank, but hesitate and finally give enough to start. When I start it at night and turn on the headlights they dim and flicker until the engine has been running a bit.

This car was originally my wife’s, and she can’t remember the last time it has had it’s battery replaced.

Take the car to the closest auto parts store and have them load test the battery. If it fails buy a new battery. If it passes then you will need to troubleshoot more but it will likely turn out to be a bad starter.

Have the battery and the alternator tested. Most auto parts stores will do this for free.

Most batteries have a date sticker on them. You should be able to tell when it was installed.

“Have the battery and the alternator tested. Most auto parts stores will do this for free.”

Just repeating what mcparadise wrote.