No matter how long you've owned a car or how familiar you are with the parts under the hood, there's always something you may not have encountered before. The good news is that there are many common problems that you can easily troubleshoot, even if you're inexperienced. For example, you should understand how to respond the first time that your car refuses to start in the morning. Here's a look at two common causes for starting problems to help you start your troubleshooting.
Every car battery has an estimated usable lifespan. When it reaches the end of that lifespan, it may have trouble holding a charge. If you turn the key and there's no power to the accessories, there's a good chance that it's the battery.
Start by opening the hood and examining the battery in the tray. If there's any visible corrosion around the battery terminals, it could be interrupting the connection. Use a terminal brush to clean the corrosion away and see if that restores proper contact and operation.
If it doesn't, you'll need to have the battery tested. Most auto parts stores will test it for free if you bring it in. Start by disconnecting the negative battery cable. Use a small wrench to loosen the terminal connection, then lift it off the post. Once the negative cable is disconnected, then disconnect the positive cable.
Use a wrench to remove the bolt securing the retaining strap on the battery tray. Then, you can remove the battery and take it to your local auto parts store.
Once you've eliminated the car's battery as a source of the problem, move your focus to the alternator. While this may sound intimidating, it's really quite simple. Open the hood and look for the serpentine belt. It'll be either the only visible belt under the hood or the longer of the two. The alternator is connected to this belt. It's easy to recognize, because it will have electrical connections and a wiring harness attached. You can easily test the operation of the alternator with a voltmeter, or take it to a local auto parts store for testing instead.
To remove the alternator, you need to disconnect the battery. As before, disconnect the negative side first. Once the battery is disconnected, detach the wiring harness on the alternator by separating the two sides of the plug. Then, use a small wrench to loosen the bolt on the serpentine pulley. This loosens the tension on the belt. When you pull the serpentine belt, make sure that you know the path it follows so that you can put it back on afterward. Remove the mounting bolts on the alternator body, then pull the alternator off. You can install the new one by reversing the process.
While some people may believe that dealing with parts like these is complicated, understanding the basics will allow you to tackle projects like this with ease. For assistance, talk to a professional like Auto & Truck Used Parts.