There are several ways to determine what may be causing a car's problems, including looking for abnormalities, identifying strange sounds and noticing if the car feels different when driving. Car problems can stem from many causes, but identifying specific symptoms can help repair technicians accurately diagnose and fix a problem. In addition to using these visual and audio aids to identify car problems, people can use several techniques to identify and rule out a battery or alternator problem.
When narrowing down the list of potential car problems, evaluating the battery and alternator is a good place to start, say authors at Cars Direct. People can check the battery by turning the car on to see if functions that use the battery, such as window controls, brake lights and wipers, still perform. Alternatively, hooking the battery to a voltmeter determines power output. An output between just under 13 volts when the car is off and 14 to 15 when it is on is normal.
The alternator can be checked by unplugging the positive connection on the battery when the car is running. If the car turns off, a faulty alternator is likely to blame. Dimming or fading interior and exterior lights is another sign of an alternator problem.
In addition to visual cues, sounds can indicate a problem. Chattering, clunking, diesel exhaust emission and grinding noises all signal problems. Engine backfiring, clanking and loping are unusual sounds, as are chirping, hissing, misfiring valves, clicking and grating.