One of the worst feelings you can have as a car owner is getting in your vehicle, cranking the ignition, and: nothing. No noise, no sounds, just a blinking red light and no ability to get where you need to go. But when this happens, what are you to do? Is it a battery issue, a faulty electrical system, time for a new alternator, or do you just need a jump? Let's talk about different kinds of startup problems and which ones mean what repairs.
When your car doesn't start, this is the problem you want it to be. A dead battery can be caused by leaving your lights on or your key in the ignition for extended periods of time. If this happens, then all you need is a jump start from a family member, friend, or Good Samaritan.
If a jump start isn't doing anything and you really need to get going, then the starter might be the problem. You'll need to have this problem handled professionally, as there could be a few things to look at. Your battery might have also just seen the end of its days and will no longer hold any amount of electrical charge.
Uh-Oh! Alternator Trouble
If your vehicle starts without a problem but then randomly dies sometime after startup then you probably have an alternator problem on your hands. As you likely know, the alternator generates power for your vehicle based on the physical labor of your engine. When the alternator stops working, however, your not going to be able to generate any power for your vehicle.
Alternators will occasionally gradually weaken over time so if you notice that you're started to notice that your car randomly stops or becomes unresponsive when you're driving then it might be time for a new alternator. While these don't always come cheap -- especially for newer vehicles -- it's definitely not the end of the world when we're talking about vehicle repairs. It's also usually a quick fix, so you'll have your vehicle back fast.