Help diagnosing my dead car

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by nloding, Jan 3, 2008.

Jan 3, 2008

Help diagnosing my dead car by nloding at 4:19 PM (2,260 Views / 0 Likes) 26 replies

  1. nloding
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    Member nloding GBAtemp Fan

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    My car died -- and I'm no mechanic. I barely understand the basics of car engines. So I need some help diagnosing what's wrong.

    The battery needed to be replaced; it's voltage was at 10.2v instead of 12v. It also needs an oil change. But that shouldn't have caused this. The only other factor that I know about is I normally let my car engine run for 10 minutes before driving in the winter; today I didn't. Otherwise, the car has been driving normally for a while. I've been thinking I noticed a loss of power over time -- slower acceleration type of thing -- but I thought it was in my head.

    So today I leave my driveway, radio on, headlights on, and start driving. Less than a mile down the road, I go to make a left and I notice my car won't accelerate when I hit the gas. So I go into the turn anyway, I have enough speed I can at least make it to the shoulder. My power steering is gone. I make the turn, straighten out, and there's still no acceleration. Pumping the gas pedal does nothing. Luckily I make it (barely) into a parking lot. Turn the car off, count to 25, try it again -- doesn't even try to turn over. My wiper blades go, but slowly; the radio works fine, as do my headlights.

    With my little knowledge of cars, I believe the battery to be virtually dead and the alternator to be trash. However, I don't know if a dead battery and alternator will cause a car to stop running in the middle.

    And how do I test an alternator?
     


  2. Shelleeson

    Member Shelleeson GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    well on the grounds you just change your battery (unless you got a garage to change it for you) i'd go for a loose connection on the battery for a start.
    the fact you had so many things running is a give away. you have power steering so the minute the car looses power it will feel like you are running and trying to turn a 2 ton truck
    try to get someone to jump start the car for you (after you have checked the connections for the battery of course).
    you may not have enough distilled water in the cells of the battery causing problems also (depends how long you've had the battery would depend on if you need to check the cells)
    you may also have a dead cell in the battery
    the fact you normally run your car for 10 minutes before you go any where leads me to believe that it's a battery issue and if you check the connections and they seem fine see if you can get the battery checked for free at a garage or if it's under guarantee (which it should be if it's a new battery) take it to the garage you got it from and get them to test it and rule that out.
    if it's none of these things i've got nothing. [​IMG]
    not bad for a female [​IMG]
     
  3. laminaatplaat

    Member laminaatplaat GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Sounds like a battery problem. jump start the car and see what happens (if it works correct). If the problem returns it could be that your dynamo is broken (powers up the battery when the engine is on). Ofcourse there could be a connection problem because they just did something with your battery. No pedal reaction, no power stearing and bad accelartion could also mean that there is no oil presure due to leaking or you need to fill up oil to its normal level.

    Edit: what kind of car is it?
     
  4. nloding
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    Member nloding GBAtemp Fan

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    EDIT: It's a 1999 Saturn SL2.

    I haven't changed the battery yet, but I need a new one so I'm thinking I'll just pick one up to start with. The car is a '99 model and has it's original battery. Time for a new one.

    I doubt it loose connections, but the connections are corroded.

    If a battery dies while driving a car, will the car itself die? I thought the alternator (or whatever) kept it running without a battery.
     
  5. Shelleeson

    Member Shelleeson GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    my car is a a 2000 model with it's original battery and it's fine.
    i did have a battery problem but it was due to loose connections AND corroded connections you need to get them cleaned up with a wire brush.
    the only time a dead battery will cause your car to die is when you run it in front of a truck [​IMG]
    jump start it will get it up and running fine
    then find somewhere to get it tested for free [​IMG]
     
  6. notnarb

    Member notnarb Not narbing it up

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    Extend your arm in front of you. Form a fist with your hand. Quickly accelerate your fist downwards until it makes contact with the hood of the car. Then turn around, partially extend both hands with thumbs pointing diagonally/upwards and proclaim "Ayyyyyyeeee"
     
  7. nloding
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    Member nloding GBAtemp Fan

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    ... I missed something here ... joke flew right over my head, apparently ...
     
  8. notnarb

    Member notnarb Not narbing it up

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    edit: [​IMG]
     
  9. laminaatplaat

    Member laminaatplaat GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    I got that, but I still dont get it
     
  10. notnarb

    Member notnarb Not narbing it up

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  11. Devante

    Member Devante Crescent fresh at best.

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    Back on topic:

    I'm not car expert but from what I understand...

    The battery simply runs electronics when the car is off and also is what powers the car up when you turn the key.

    Once the car is on, however, the battery does nothing and the alternator is what powers everything.

    It sounds like your alternator is what's broken.
    You need to take it to Auto-Zone and get a free battery/alternator test..

    I'm pretty sure they will tell you the alternator is broken.

    Let us know what happens.
     
  12. amptor

    Banned amptor Banned

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    First thing you do is check the battery and work your way from there. Battery always comes first when diagnosing an electrical problem. Check the battery and make sure the terminals are connected properly. If it is new sometimes new batteries are defective. You'd need to do a load test, there aren't many people who know how to do that properly. After that you trace the wire and see if it has any shorts. Sometimes this is hard to do but you can do it with a multimeter set on an ohm scale to check for continuity for the positive shorting to ground. However this sounds like it could be any number of things. I had this happen to me when I put my old ignition switch back in my car, so I just put the new one back in and it was fine. I had another electrical problem that was affecting the radio so I had to run a wire direct from the battery to the radio and that fixed it. What I really need to do though is rewire the whole car but it probably isn't all that necessary.

    Anyway work your way from the battery up. Could be alternator, you'd have to check if it charges but that shouldn't be the first place you look. Sounds like the car is improperly cared for. When you drive a car into the ground, you should expect problems. Cars are replacement for horses, if you treated your horse this way it'd be dead [​IMG]
     
  13. nloding
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    Member nloding GBAtemp Fan

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    I'm gonna try to jump 'er tonight. And I wouldn't say it's improperly cared for -- the oil change isn't something I've been putting off, and I have regular maintenance done on it; it just hasn't had any problems until now.

    Now the battery -- yeah, should have replaced that a few weeks ago when I found out it was dying.
     
  14. Rayder

    Former Staff Rayder Mostly lurking lately....

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    Get a new battery and alternator. That should fix you up, though I would go to Auto-Zone and have them do the check to see if you really need an alternator or not.

    I have a 95 Saturn SL2 and had to go through all that last year when the first cold-snap hit.....that's when batteries tend to crap-out. Pretty much all the same problems you described (though not quite as extreme)....my alternator was fine, but the battery was just dead.

    Are you getting an alternator light in the instrument cluster? If not, maybe just a battery.......but when your battery is weak and you keep running the car, the alternator has to work that much harder and it could be getting weak itself. Hence going to Auto-Zone for the check.
     
  15. nloding
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    Well I tried to jump it last night, and it wouldn't start. Still didn't try to turn over. I've contact my local 24-hour AutoZone and they said that I should be able to put a new battery in it and it should have enough juice to drive to their shop to test the rest of it. An alternator and battery will run me ~$150, which ain't bad.

    Good luck to me tonight!
     
  16. lanman31337

    Newcomer lanman31337 Advanced Member

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    I could place money on that your alternator is dead, hence the dead battery, hence it died while you were driving. Your battery is needed just for starting, and then the alternator takes over, charges the battery and then runs all the other electrical in your car.
     
  17. nintendofreak

    Member nintendofreak Around. Shoot me a PM.

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    True, i would really get the alternator tested before going out and spending $150. In fact, you could start your car and take out the battery and still have the car run.
     
  18. nloding
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    The battery will run the electronics in the car should the alternator fail. So a new battery (which I need anyway) will get me to AutoZone to test my alternator for free; if it's bad, which I'm sure it is, I'll buy a new one and install it.
     
  19. nloding
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    Member nloding GBAtemp Fan

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    Replacing the battery failed to do anything. The first time I turned the key, it started to turn over then died. After that, it just did the same 'click' thing. I tried jumping it in case the new battery wasn't fully charged, and it did the same as when I first installed the battery.

    My local Auto Zone recommended a local mechanic, he drove out and took a look at it, and thinks there's a small possibility the engine has seized (fantastic!) but thinks that it's likely just a starter problem. He said that if a starter is really on the fritz, it's possible to mess with the entire electrical system, which partially makes sense.

    So, here I go again!
     
  20. avant1277

    Member avant1277 GBAtemp Regular

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    I can't give you any specific advice, but I had very similar problems with my old car not starting. Over time I changed the battery, alternater, HT leads, spark plugs, and cables going to starter motor. When it was wet I would sometimes have to spray electrical contact fluid on the ht leads and then dry them off with a cloth, this would remove the water and help with the starting.

    I even went as far as putting a fire proof blanket over the engine when I had finished using the car, to keep the engine dry.

    Did my head in, but at the time I had little cash, the car cost me £350 and after 4 years I was able to sell it for £250 - cheap motoring at the end of the day, but a lot of hassle. Got a lot of the replacement parts from car breakers (scrapyard for cars), and my dad helped me fit them.

    Yr car is much newer though, mine was 15 years old, so a mechanic can hopefully get it sorted and it'll stay good for you.

    So just wanted to let you know yr not alone, I'm sure many of us have been there.

    I bought a much newer car a couple of years ago and it's done me fine, much more expensive to service tho, and even changing headlight bulbs is a massive hassle.
     

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