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1999 Taurus Possessed by the Devil?

The Scene: Dark, foggy country road in rural Wisconsin.

After picking up my two boys at our sitters house and strapping them into my trusty 1999 Taurus, I hop in. Everything is normal until…

The key turns and everything goes black.

(Insert your choice of horror movie music here)

This happened once before, a while ago, and after letting it sit for a minute, everything came back online and away we went. Not this time.

After a minute of calming the boys (aged 3 and 5) and reassuring them we would not have to walk back home in the dark or sleep at the sitters, I tried it again. Nothing. Ok, needs more time, right? So I distracted the whimperings of the boys with movies of them riding their bikes from my phone for another few minutes. Inbetween each movie, the older wanted me to open the doors to turn the lights on because it was too dark and spooky!

So, after waiting what felt like an eternity, I tentatively put the key in, turned it and immediately all the gagues lit up, the light on the clock went on at 12:00 and the strangest of them all, the windshield wipers flapped one time as if to say, “Hi! we’re back!”

Now that the car was running, we headed for home. As we drove, about every 30 seconds, the low fuel warning light would go on, the power would drop and it seemed like the transmission would slip out or somehow let the engine rev high. Or, as my 3 yr old put it, it was driving bumpy.

Once we were on a stretch of road where I could speed up some, I opened it up and the problems seemed to abate. Until we reached an intersection, where it nearly stalled. We limped it home safely, but it was not a pleasant trip!

I went out to try to start it again a few hours later and it did nothing. So I sat in it for a while, tried it again and POOF, everything worked, and again another flip of the windshield wipers!

Now, I’m not a mechanic, nor am I an exorcist, but does anyone have any insight into why my Taurus was acting like it was possessed? I checked the battery immediately, figuring that it was probably the original (the car was my grandmothers) but it was replaced in 3/07, so it’s not too old. Any thoughts or secret rituals I need to perform?



You have a loose battery cable.

I agree with Tardis, loose and/or corroded. Clean and reconnect your battery cables.

Have the battery ends of the battery cables checked for corrosion and tightness, AND check the other ends of the cables for tightness / connection. Let us know if there are any other problems.

Ok, cleaned them off with a baking soda / water mixture and everything is looking nice and clean now. So far so good!

Thanks for the suggestions!

Did you disconnect them and clean them off inside the clamps? The outside is not important. The inside contact surfaces have to be cleaned, probably with steel wool or sandpaper, until they are shiny. Same with the connectors on the battery.

Yep, took all that stuff off, cleaned it and made it look all nice and shiny. Nothing looked TOO corroded, but we’ll see how far this gets us!