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MrItty's avatar

What is wrong with my car!

Asked by MrItty (17371points) September 30th, 2008

One month ago, left it in the airport parking lot for 10 days. Came back, dead battery. Okay, maybe I left the lights on or something. AAA jumps it, it works fine for the next month.

Last week, left it at the airport parking lot for 6 days. Came back, dead battery. I know I didn’t leave anything on this time. AAA jumps it, it works fine for the rest of the night.

Next morning, dead battery. AAA jumps it, I take it to AutoZone. “Your battery is between ‘weak’ and ‘bad’. You should get a new one.” $100 for a new battery. Works fine for the rest of the week, including much driving between NY and MA.

This morning, dead battery. AAA jumps it, take it to a mechanic. “You need a new alternator”. $560. Pick it up, starts fine in their parking lot, drive it back home.

Tonight, dead battery. No sounds. No clicks. No anything.

So since it’s clearly NOT the alternator OR the battery, what is wrong with my car?! And who can I take it to that won’t screw me?!?!

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10 Answers

funkdaddy's avatar

Hmmmm… would have guessed alternator too. I’d say as long as that was really replaced and isn’t bad itself you must have a problem with the connections to or from it.

Also, it sounds basic, but have you cleaned all the contacts on your battery? I know, new battery, but the inside of the connections can get corroded and really hurt its ability to charge.

Good luck with it, electrical problems are always hard to track down.

XCNuse's avatar

it could even be as simple as a light that isn’t turning off or something of the such, my sister had a problem like that in her jeep, my dad finally found the light and just cut the wires (not literally), and no longer was her battery dying from a light which was causing shorts.

aanuszek1's avatar

This was happening with my old chevy lumina. I replaced the battery, then the alternator. Nothing. So I bought a “new” (used) car.

Knotmyday's avatar

You have a short circuit somewhere in your electrical system.

Trying to find automotive short circuits is a real pain in the butt, and most mechanics won’t even try.

You do have several options, however…The first of which is to install a simple battery disconnect switch. Here is an example. They are inexpensive and effective, and have the added bonus of providing a level of theft-deterrence. You can also get one with a removable key, for a bit more scratch.

The only problem with the switches is that you have to raise the hood to get at them. Then again, it appears that your battery isn’t draining overnight, so you will only be lifting the hood just before long periods of disuse.

Another option is to install a remote disconnect switch. You can place the switch inside the passenger cabin of the vehicle, for easier access. Downside- priciness, and installation required.

A really neat-sounding new invention, the battery brain, is another alternative. The ads say that they work, I’ve never tried one. The unit senses the charge level of your battery, and automatically disconnects it so you don’t have to. Sounds good, but I can’t vouch for its effectiveness.

Good luck with your car.

boffin's avatar

As Knotmyday eluded to. You might have a dead short. Take it to a “Auto Electric” mechanic that can find it. Might be something simple…Like a bad cigarette lighter.

Cardinal's avatar

It’s haunted. get rid of it!

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Get a multimeter, that you can use to measure the voltage across the battery terminals. Get a jump to start the car, and measure the DC voltage across the terminals when the motor is running. If it is at least 13.8 volts, your alternator and voltage regulator are fine.

There could be something drawing current in your car. Common culprits are trunk courtesy lights that don’t shut off when you close the trunk, or an accessory that is not powering off. If you had a dead short, you would also have either a blown fuse or a fire insurance claim.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

I had almost exactly the same problem with my Lincoln LS. Turns out there is some sort of sensor located in the steering column that went bad. New battery and alternator I put in were probably not needed. All you can say is Ahhh…shit.

MrItty's avatar

So here’s the latest. I brought the car back to the mechanic after it failed again. He just called me. He says I have an electrical problem somewhere in the wiring that caused the battery and the alternator to become “trashed”. He says he has a printout showing that the alternator was indeed bad and did need to be replaced. He says that since they missed the problem the first time around, all his labor today will be no charge, and that he should be able to find and fix it before noon today.

Fingers are firmly crossed, but at this point, I refuse to become optimistic about anything….

Thanks to everyone for your advice and opinions. I appreciate it.

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