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Little Background:

I own 2016 Mazda CX-5, battery that came with car was not holding the charge for long, so after some research on which battery to replace it with, I decided to replace it with Walmart brand as many people recommended that Walmart's brand(EverStart) is a good brand for car batteries. I replaced the old battery with the new one in April 2020.

Fast forward to yesterday: I tried to start my car but the starter struggled and car did not start. I used a jumpstarter but nothing happened. Todays I asked my friend to bring over his car and to jumpstart my car. Aftert connecting the jumper cable, the car started in first attempt but it stopped immediately when I took the cables off, we tried agian, car started and stopped as soon as I remved the cables. I doubted, it could be alternator has gone bad but I decided to take a last attemp and connected jumper cables again and left the cables connected to let the battery charge. Before charging I checked the battery voltage with multimeter and the battery voltage read 3V. After leaving the battery connected with my friend's car with engine on for like 5 min, I took battery voltage readig and it read 12V. This time I tried to restart car without jumper cables connected and car started fine, I left it running for like 15-20 min and engine kept running fine.

Now with engine on I took voltage reading to see how many volts alternator is generating and it read 13.86V, I revved the engine to see if voltage fluctuates, but it stayed 13.86V, I turned light on and music system on high volume to increase the load on alternator to see if that affects the voltage but still reading was in 13.82V to 13.86V range. I drove the car for a couple of miles and everuthing seemed normal.

Now I am confused why the battery was drained, I did not left anything running in car. This car has auto lights shut off feature so there is no way headlights or interior lights would have stayed on to drain the battery. Why car was turning off immediately after taking jumper cables off.

How to diagnose if the battery is bad or alternator is bad? Apologies to make the question this long.

  • There are q and a about this already. – Solar Mike Oct 20 at 4:26
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13.86 volts when the car is running means your alternator is doing its job.

You can recharge the battery using a charger, this is more effective than having it charged by your alternator with the engine running. Once it has a good full charge (reading at around 12.6-12.8 volts) you can do a load test to see if it is bad. Most auto parts stores or places that sell car batteries can do this for you for free.

Since you are sure nothing was left on and you have a new battery, you could have a parasitic draw on your battery that isn't obvious and noticeable (like the lights being left on). I've seen the electric motor for the driver's seat draw down a battery even when it wasn't being used. That's an example of something you can't see but that can cause issues.

Here is a link to a good How-To for doing a parasitic draw test using a multimeter.

| improve this answer | |
  • got battery and alternator tested at auto parts store and all results came normal. guy at store also mentioned about parasitic draw. – Sandy Oct 21 at 20:06
  • Yeah that sounds like it will be the culprit, best of luck! – J-Rome Oct 21 at 20:50
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    Could also be that parts are fine but you just have loose connections which could lead to intermittent drains. – James Wilson Oct 22 at 18:16

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