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'08 Impala won't start...left parking lights on


I drove to work this morning and parked my car (around 10:30AM). I return to my car at about 9:00PM. I approach it trying to unlock it using my remote. I keep hitting the button as I approach…it does not work. I unlock it manually and get inside and put the key in ignition…absolutely nothing happens. No lights, no dashboard, no…nothing.

Then I remember…I left my parking lights on the entire day! That must be what’s wrong…

I go and grab some portable jumper cables and…boy did I kill some time trying to elicit a reaction. When I hooked it up, the car came alive completely…it just wouldn’t start no matter how long I let it sit. I would simply hear a single click. So, I went a grabbed another set of portable jumpers and…same exact thing. By the time the tow guy came around, he tried it with his portable cables as well and…same exact thing.

I am trying to figure out what in the world is wrong. I replaced the battery one year ago, when I had trouble starting it. So…the battery is new and, by all appearances, in good condition. Outside of that, no history of starting problems whatsoever…which is what makes all of this so incredibly confusing. Whatever the problem might be, I am just hoping it is not going to be a costly one.

Any ideas? Thanks!

Does this car have an anti-theft system?
The GM Pass-Key anti-theft system is notorious for producing problems after a battery goes dead, and it is possible that this is what happened with your car. It may be necessary for a GM dealership to do some hocus-pocus with the anti-theft system.

+1 for VDCdriver because I have an 08 model GM vehicle that did the same thing. When my battery went dead…a jump would not work. I had to remove the battery and charge it fully. It later went dead again and a new battery solved my problem. The dealership may be your only option though.

I think the battery is toast. When a battery gets too low, cheap jumpers can’t get it going.

To jump a completely dead battery with jumper cables can take a long time, 20 minutes usually with someone holding their foot on the gas on the running car to hold it to 1500 to 2000 rpm. And that is if you have a good connection withe the cables on both ends. When you complete the connection from the running car you should hear the alternator take the load.

Speaking of cheap jumper cables…I bought a professional set about 40 years ago and they still work like new. They are 20ft long and have copper wire and copper clamps. I’ve used them in -40 degree weather and they are still flexible even then. The only time they failed to start a vehicle is when the jumped vehicles battery was completely dead. This brings up a question…a famous Sears commercial years ago had a DieHard battery jumping frozen vehicles without batteries…how did they do that? Or did they?

I concur @missleman, a set for 4 gauge 20 foot jumper cables is the only way to go. I remember that commercial you mentioned. Even though the vehicles may have been frozen it is hard to say how warm the battery was that they used in that commercial. A good fully charged warm battery can make a lot happen. If there were no batteries in the vehicles then that would save some current that would normally go to the low battery along with trying to start the engine.

Hey guys, thanks for the replies. I am trying to figure out what to do now since I simply cannot afford to have it towed to a dealer and pay for labor and services right now.

I don’t see how a one-year old battery could be completely dead from…me leaving my security/parking/emergency lights on for ten hours? I can see how that would cause some depletion, but to completely kill a battery? Is that even remotely likely?

I tried to hook up another portable jumper pack to it again—same thing happened. Car’s system lights up, but does not crank. Some of you were saying that it could be an anti-theft system. But I’m unsure, because the car doesn’t light up at all…and my sense is that normally with an antitheft system, those antitheft lights are activated on the dashboard…which does not happen with or without the juice pack.

Are there any other ideas you guys may have? Somebody suggested the battery connection, or tapping the starter, or swapping out the battery with someone else’s to see if their’s works (and if it indeed is the battery)? Thanks again.

Possible the battery terminals are corroded? Or bad cable with internal break/corrosion. You may also have bad battery. New does not guarantee good. At least have it tested. Should have warranty. Where did u get it?

If you have a friend who can give you a few rides, you could take the battery somewhere to be tested and charged.

I did have a warranty. Problem is, I misplaced the paperwork for it. I am so confused…normally I keep all receipts and paperwork in my glove compartment, but for some reason I do not see anything there pertaining to this…which effectively means I have no warranty coverage.

I got it from Wal-Mart.

Turn on an interior light. Now try to start the engine. Does the interior light almost go out? If so, your battery is depleted to the point it cannot start the engine. If it stays on strong, the battery isn’t your problem. Next look at the security light in the dash cluster, is it flashing? If it is, the anti-theft protection is activated. Some cars need to have a dealer reset them after complete loss of power…

Did you trickle charge it to bring it back up to full charge or are you still trying to jump start it off another battery?

Most modern GMs have RAP feature that shuts off power after 5 minutes. It is supposed to eliminate the situation you describe where leaving lights on kills the battery entirely. If you do not have RAP, then yes, leaving all those lights on for that length of time is likely to fully deplete the battery.

I suggest you check for power getting to the fuses in the panel under the hood. Those fuses should have power at all times. If that area is okay then check the dash fuses for power with the ignition switch in the RUN position. If power isn’t getting to those fuses then there is a wiring issue between the panels under the hood and the dash which includes the ignition switch wiring.

There is a date code on the battery that will show when it was made, even without a receipt they should be able to adjust or warranty it from there. If you can find a Wal- Mart with an auto center that has not closed. All the ones near me no longer have auto centers.

“I don’t see how a one-year old battery could be completely dead from…me leaving my security/parking/emergency lights on for ten hours? I can see how that would cause some depletion, but to completely kill a battery? Is that even remotely likely?”

Yes, it is more than remotely likely

It is exactly what happened, without a shadow of a doubt

Here’s what I suggest. Do as oldtimer suggests first. Better yet, take the battery there . . . in another car, of course . . . and try to get it replaced free of charge, under the free replacement period. If they don’t/can’t do it, just buy a brand new battery, take it back to your car and install it. Odds are it’ll fire off right away.

I see this scenario all the time, where somebody leaves the lights on all day and completely kills a fairly recent battery, past the point where it’ll even take a jump. Sometimes, they won’t even take a charge

Another possibility, if you want to save money, is to remove the battery and slow charge it for several hours. But, as I said, it might not take the charge. The charger may abort the process, because it can’t sense the dead battery. You may have to restart the charging process several times. Even if it takes the charge, it may not hold it

It was the battery! Had it charged up over Thursday night and the car was 100% good-to-go the next day. Learned something new from all this at least, thanks guy!

Thanks for letting us know. Glad you got it fixed.



Just out of curiosity, did you remove the battery and slow charge it on the work bench?

Or you charged it in the car?

I looked out one evening and saw that the parking lights were on in the old 1950 Chevrolet pickup that I owned. It seemed strange to me because I rarely drove the truck at night. I went out and turned off the lights. The next morning, I was able to start the truck, but it was still a mystery to me as to why the lights were on. I hadn’t used the truck in more than a week when I discovered that the parking lights were on. The next afternoon, I came home from work and noticed that the steering wheel was moving back and forth seemingly by itself. When I opened the door of the truck, there sat a little 4 year old boy who was “driving” the truck. He had slipped over from the addition next to our acreage and on quizzing him, he had been driving the truck the day before. I suppose when I saw the truck the previous evening, the parking lights had been on three or four hours.


Please tell me you spoke to the boy’s parents, about his driving . . . !