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I have a 2003 Mazda Tribute. I'm not entirely sure what the problem is with the vehicle. I suppose it could be the alternator or just a dead battery, but could also be something more detailed.

I have a battery jumper that I keep in my car, and I have been connecting it to my battery every time I wish to start the car. When I'm in the car and I drive around (for a mile or so) I can turn the car off and then start it up again quickly, but after about a minute there's not enough juice to get it started anymore.

My intuition would lead me to believe that this means the alternator isn't the problem and it is a dead battery. I'm concerned that it could just be left over electrical energy sitting in the system that restarts the car and not a charge being restored to the battery by the alternator.

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2 Answers 2

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Certainly sounds like a dead (or dying...) battery. Voltage measurement here would be crucial. From what I'm hearing I'd venture during crank you'll see less than 10V DC on that battery. That's a definite indicator to replace the battery.

Could the alternator also be part of the problem? Surely, it could. If there's an excess current draw could that be what's actually taking the battery out? Yep. (Either way the battery you have now is likely no longer useful)

Start with the battery, then look at alternator, and on to standby current draw tests if you're still having problems.

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Went to Sears and had them run voltage on my battery. They saw that it was only putting out about 8 or so volts, and even less than 3 when the starting was pulling. I checked with Sears and found that I had battery warranty (apparently standard waarranties are 6 years?) and had it replaced. That fixed the issue entirely. –  Neurax Apr 23 '13 at 23:32

You should do a load test on your battery and see if you have a damaged cell. If this is not the case, check for a parasitic draw test on your vehicle, which basically tells you if something is on and draining your battery.

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Check the battery first, that maybe the culprit. If you have access to another battery of the same size you can try it too. –  Gabriel Mongeon Apr 18 '13 at 14:28

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