Dead Battery or Alternator? Whats going on..

St. Louis, MO | Los Angeles, CA
Well lately my car has been given me crap. Let's run down the problems

Both low beam bulbs dont work (they're 8 months old)
Power steering is on/off inconsistently
Power steering or alternator is making VERY loud clicking/dieing whale noises, especially under revs or when turning the wheel
Battery dieing constantly when car not driven for a day or two

All this happening at once leads me to believe it's something connected with one of the belts. Power steering. Alternator. Something of that assortment.

To be honest I don't know what's connected with what between the belts. None of the belts seem to be missing. A/C works fine. So my assumption is soemthign isn't working.

I don't really have any experience with these kind of electrical issues. Is my alternator dead? Is somethign being underdriven? Is it like a tensioner? Do I tighten the tensioner somehow? Is there a DIY or FAQ about this?



Staff member
You're not using any kind of UDP are you?

Cooling and all that is normal? Well, first thing I would do is check to see if your battery does indeed requires replacement. Batteries are cheap and should be replaced every few years for good maintenance. Second, make sure the terminals corrosion free.

Should your battery die again then its a good indication your alternator is bad. But I would go the battery route first.

If your alternator is making a whining noise then its probably dying and the clicking noise that you hear may be the bearings.
Toronto, Canada
Let's run through them individually: Low beams out... burnt out or fuse is blown, or a bad connection.

Power steering or Alternator? noise: PS Fluid might be low, and is burning out your pump, and will squeel under load. If your alternator is failing, it will indeed sound like you have a supercharger (whirring).

Battery dies after not being driven: Probably not your alternator, but your battery is probably done. You can remove it and take it into your local parts store and they should be able to test if for you. If you don't know the last time it was replaced, it might be time to do so.

I think your car should have two belts, one that powers your AC, and the other works everything else. With all this happening at once, your tensioner might be failing, and your belt is slipping... or the bearings on your Alt or PS pump might be wearing out and causing problems turning each other and may seize up. Your belt could probably use replacing too if you don't know the last time it was changed.

All thing in order, check fuses, check PS fluid, new battery, new belts (maintenance). if your PS pump or Alt is failing, you'll find out after replacing this stuff. These things are the easiest to do your self.
Meriden, CT. USA
If the engine runs with the battery disconnected, the alternator is okay...if not, start there. You really need to develop a dialog with a good BMW/Benz'll need one! (don't go to the dealer).