1998 Dodge Stratus with suddenly fried electrical system... Advice please!

stratus
electrical-wiring
batteries

#1

Hello,

I own a 1998 Dodge Stratus (ES Sedan 4D, 2.4 liter, automatic) and driving to a restaurant on Friday I ran over a rather nasty pothole. It had once had a metal plate over it, but it was 3/4 of the way uncovered and I hit so hard that the front of the car bottomed out hard on the pavement. I made sure I hadn’t popped a tire and was on my way. Later that evening I got back in the car to go home and the battery had died suddenly. I knew I had not left any lights/systems on in the car. I got a jump and the car made it home, clicking, with lights flickering and gauge needles wobbling the whole way.

I left it for the weekend, and tried to assess the situation further after work on Monday. The battery in the Stratus is located under the driver’s side wheel well, so I removed the cover to check if there were any loose wires/connections and there weren’t. I got the car jumped and made it to an Advance Auto Parts to have the battery tested (again with clicking, flickering lights/gauges). Right before I got there, the battery light in the dash turned on.

The battery was tested almost completely dead, and it took about 30 minutes to get to the AAP from my house. It wouldn’t jump again, so I had to get AAA to tow it back to my house (It took the AAA guy about 5 tries to jump it using his tow truck’s battery, and it lasted long enough to drive it up onto the truck bed).

I didn’t want to buy a new battery, in case there was something wrong with the alternator and the new battery would just get sucked dry like the old one.

I am wondering if anyone has any ideas about what might have happened. It seems strange that a battery would just die so suddenly with no warning and I don’t want to get ripped off at a mechanic because I have no idea what might have happened (I don’t know much about cars except for really basic stuff.)

Thanks for your help! - Lisa


#2

Lisa,

How old is the battery? If it is old it may have just died of old age and the pothole was a coincidence. It is also possible, regardless of age, that the jolt of hitting the pothole damaged the battery internally and it died.

Most auto stores and repair shops have a machine that can test the battery. If the battery is good but keeps dying in your car then you likely have an electrical system issue such as a bad alternator or a short somewhere.

My money is on a dead battery. When the shop load tests the battery it will fail and your only “repair” will be to buy a new battery. Hopefully your suspension was not damaged.

Regards,
Robert


#3

The battery took a big shock when you hit the pothole and probably shorted out the plates inside the battery.

I had a Chrysler Sebring come in where the owner hit a curb, and because the battery is located in the same area as your vehicle the battery was damaged from the shock it was exposed to and died instantly.

Replace the battery.

Tester