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Old 10-31-2016, 10:29 PM   #1
LewBaby
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Is my alternator or my battery bad?

All of a sudden, yesterday morning my battery was dead. I don't know if the problem is the battery can't hold a charge or the alternator is not charging it. I brought it to Sears Auto to check it out, but they told me they had to put in a new battery (which I had to buy) before they could check the charging system. And if it turns out to be the alternator, I just spent a fair amount of money on a battery that was not needed.

Thinking logically, since the car drives fine once it is started I am guessing that the alternator is working properly and producing enough juice to run the car and whatever load is being produced. After jump starting it, I drove it approx. 10 miles to Sears and then 10 miles home.

Am I looking at this correctly or could the car drive with a dead battery and a bad alternator? I'm planning on taking it to Firestone tomorrow to see what they say. I hate to say this, but I am so untrusting of auto repair places!

FYI... this is for a 2003 Saturn Vue, manual transmission, 4 cyl engine.

Please give me some thoughts.
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Old 10-31-2016, 10:39 PM   #2
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Re: Is my alternator or my battery bad?

Sears is a bunch of liars. The system can be checked without a new battery. They can even check the battery independent of the system. They are just being asses and trying to make you buy something without knowing if you need it.

It could be a bad battery, that would be my guess, but I'd check it, have it checked to be sure.

Go to Advance Auto and have them check the system. They'll do it for free.
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Old 11-01-2016, 12:25 AM   #3
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Re: Is my alternator or my battery bad?

Thanks Stealthee. I had seen a youtube video from either Advance Auto or Auto Zone and they said you could bring your alternator in and they would bench test it for free, but nothing about testing your charging system while it was in the car. I may stop at one of those on my way to Firestone. If they tell me all I need is a battery I'll probably just buy the battery there. Of course, if there is anything else wrong, I'll have to get my car jump started to get out of there!
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Old 11-01-2016, 03:40 PM   #4
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Re: Is my alternator or my battery bad?

Okay, just to give some closure to this thread... Advance Auto said they could not test the charging system without a fully charged battery (same as Sears). I went to Firestone because they said they would put in a charged battery (without me purchasing it) to check the charging system. As I thought, the charging system was fine, it was just a bad battery. I may not be a great mechanic, but I am very logical (which USUALLY helps)!
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Old 11-01-2016, 04:09 PM   #5
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Re: Is my alternator or my battery bad?

You must have some lazy Advance workers. They have the means to check the battery itself to see if it is bad, and the charging system definitely is able to be checked, even with a bad battery.

Either way, glad you got it resolved.
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