Posts Tagged ‘battery’

03
Jan

Why Does My Battery Die Quickly?

Ken,

I bought my car new, and ever since I brought it home, if I let it sit for more than 2 days or so, the battery dies completely.  The battery is brand new (obviously), so what could be the problem?

-Daniel P., MO

Daniel,

Since the battery is brand new, let’s assume it’s still in good shape.  If this is the case, you must have something drawing a lot of power when the car is off.  To determine the cause of this, open up the hood and take a look at the battery.  Use a multimeter to check the amperage between the positive and negative terminals.  The draw should be a small fraction of an amp, but will vary depending on the model.  To determine what is pulling all the power, open up the fuse box and continue to check the draw on the battery while disconnecting fuses.  If you pull a fuse and the draw drops dramatically, you’ve found your problem.

Most cars should be able to sit for several weeks without losing too much battery charge.

- Ken the Car Guy

27
Dec

Engine Turns Over, But Won’t Start

Ken,

My husband and I have got an old van.  Most of the time, the engine will turn over without starting.  If I keep the key turned for 10 seconds or so, it will stop turning over and all the lights will go off on the dash.  When I turn off the key and try again, it usually starts.  What could be happening?

-Dana R., WA

Dana,

It seems like you might be having a couple problems.  One problem is that the engine doesn’t seem to be starting even after several seconds.  This could be caused by poor compression, a misfire, or a problem with the fuel system.  The most important problem however seems to be that your power system is shutting down.  It seems like the vibration caused by starting the engine, or the power draw from using the starter is causing wiring to your battery to fail.  I would check through all your battery connections to make sure the wiring isn’t failing before trying to diagnose the prolonged starting issue.

- Ken the Car Guy

09
Dec

Why Do My Batteries Keep Dying?

Ken,

I’ve had my car for 2 years and have needed to replace the battery 4 times.  I’m pretty sure I’m not leaving anything on overnight or anything.  What could be the problem?

David R., CA

David,

There are two things which could be happening.  One is that there could be a drain on the battery you don’t know about.  To check, leave the car as you normally would overnight.  Disconnect the negative battery terminal, and use a multimeter between the cable and the battery to check for amperage.  If you measure anything over about .05 A, you’ve got something running that is draining the battery.

If this test doesn’t show anything, your alternator/regulator is likely acting funky.

- Ken the Car Guy

02
Dec

Why Are My Engine Lights Coming On?

Ken,

The other day, I was driving and my check seatbelt light came on, even though they were all fastened.  Soon after, the check battery light came on as well.  When I stopped the car and restarted it, everything was fine.  Any idea why that happened?

Gery L., MI

Gery,

What’s probably happening here is that your battery is starting to fail.  If there’s an internal short in the battery, the car may still start, but the voltage with fluctuate dramatically.

This fluctuation could be what’s causing the lights to go on and off, so I would get the battery checked out.  If the battery light comes on frequently, you can test it by swapping your battery with a friend’s or having it checked by a professional.

- Ken the Car Guy

24
Nov

Why Won’t My Car Do Anything?

Ken,

My car literally won’t do anything.  No lights come on, and the car won’t even try to start.  Is it just totally dead?  What can I do?

-Shannon G., DE

Shannon,

This problem might not be as bad as you think.  From what you’ve described, it seems like your battery is either dead or disconnected.  If this was a sudden problem, your battery was most likely disconnected somehow.

I would open up the hood and check all of the battery terminal connections.  If they look alright, use a multimeter to test the voltage across the terminals.  You should get somewhere around 12 Volts.  If the voltage looks good, then I would suspect poor wiring somewhere in the system.  Try to follow the wires back and look for anything suspicious.  If the voltage is bad, you’ve probably just drained your battery.  A new one should solve the problem.

- Ken the Car Guy

21
Nov

Why Do My Dash Lights Go Out?

Ken,

My dashboard lights flicker on and off sometimes when I’m driving.  Usually it works fine until I get on the highway, but then they start going on and off a lot.  What could be wrong?

-Eric P., KS

Eric,

This is a tough one.  There are a lot of things that could cause this problem, so I’ll start with the most likely.

The most likely problem is a loose or corroded cable.  If it usually works fine until you’re on the highway, it could be that the increased speed is causing a wire to slip and bounce around.

Another likely problem is that your alternator is pumping a lot of power into the batteries at high RPMs and the battery itself has cabling issues.

I would check your electrical connections to make sure everything is in order.

- Ken the Car Guy

07
Nov

Why Does My Car Immediately Die?

Ken,

My Mercedez 320ml will start up, but then it dies immediately.  The battery recently also died, but that’s fixed now.  What could the problem be?  The engine seems to run just fine right up until it dies.

-Jorge H., NM

Jorge,

After a bit of research, it seems like this is a fairly common problem with this model.  If the battery dies, the key won’t be recognized anymore and the car won’t continue to run after starting.

To solve this problem, it sounds like you’ll have to order a new key from the dealer.  This key should work right off the bat, but the remote control locking buttons will have to be synchronized with the car.  The dealer should send along instructions on how to synchronize the new key.

- Ken the Car Guy

19
Oct

Why Don’t My Power Locks Work?

Ken,

Last week, my car battery died and I tried to jump it with my wife’s car.  Having not jumped a car before in my life, I placed the red cable on the red cable running from the fuse box instead of the battery red cable.  There was a popping sound, and now my power locks don’t work.  What can I do to fix this?

-Patrick M., AK

Patrick,

Don’t worry, we’ve all make mistakes like this before!  It sounds to me like you’ve simply blown  fuse.  Look back in that fuse box you found and check the manual to see which fuse is for the power locks.  While you’re at it, you might as well check all the other fuses, it’s possible they were effected as well.

When you check the fuses, look for small burn marks along the filament of the fuse, which implies a burn out.

- Ken the Car Guy

27
Sep

Why Won’t My Car Start?

Ken,

Occasionally my car just won’t start.  Nothing will happen when I turn the key.  Sometimes it starts up like a charm though.  If I hook up jumper cables to my wife’s car, it starts up every time, so I tried a new battery, but it still won’t work properly.  What should I try next?

-Jeff M., TN

Jeff,

There are a couple of things I would try.  My first guess is that you’ve got a bad connection going on between the battery and the starter.  Try hooking up a multimeter and checking the voltage, and be sure to wiggle the cables around to see if something is off.

If everything checks out fine there, I would suspect a bad solenoid on your starter.  When they start going bad, solenoids will slowly degrade, working only occasionally.

- Ken the Car Guy

26
Sep

Why Is My Alarm Going Off?

Ken,

My car alarm won’t stop going off.  It all started when I tried entering the car through the passenger side.  I’ve tried disconnecting the battery and starting the car, but the alarm still goes off.  How do I make it stop?

-Ruth D., MO

Ruth,

This sounds to me like the driver’s door lock actuator.  This actuator is what gives a signal to the alarm to go off, so is the most likely culprit.  Luckily this is usually a pretty cheap replacement, so you should be able to get the car in driving condition in no time.

As I imagine you’ve figured out already, the alarm will stop if you disconnect the battery, at least until you hook it back up.

- Ken the Car Guy