2000 Nissan Sentra will only start with jump but then dies shortly after

My girlfriend’s 2000 Nissan Sentra has about 130k on it. The car has a lot of issues to say the least. The catalytic converter needs to be replaced, the car barely passed inspection, and it periodically stalls out at stop lights and in traffic. Those issues aside, the car has been running well until this week. On monday, the car suddenly died when stopped at a light and the ABS and other lights all went on. Now the car only starts with a jump and will not stay running if the jumper cables are disconnected. Additionally, all of the electronics in the car are nor working. The radio will not work and the windows and power locks barely work.

I would greatly appreciate any advice. I’m wondering whether the car is worth towing to a repair shop, or should be junked. Any ideas? The car is currently marooned in Northeast Philadelphia.

The problem might be with the charging system.

If you try to jump start a vehicle with a dead battery, the donor vehicle will get the engine to start. But if the alternator isn’t charging the battery in the vehicle once it starts, and jumper cables are removed there isn’t enough power in the battery to keep the engine running. Plus all the other electrical systems will stop working.



Thank you for your advice. assuming thats the problem, does the battery need to be replaced, or do I need a new charging system? Would a car engine code reader diagnose this issue?



You need to have the charging system tested.

If the battery was deeply discharged several times, and if it’s over five years old it’ll probably require replacement.

A generic code reader might pull a code for a problem with the charging system.

P0560-System Voltage Malfunction

P0561-System Voltage Unstable

P0562-System Voltage Low

P0563-System Voltage High


First, try to charge the battery. You will need a 8 to 10 amp charger for this. A trickle charger will take forever. Now the car should start and run. The Batt or ALT light may be on. Drive the car to a parts store or shop and have the alternator tested. You don’t have forever to do this, as running the car off the battery will quickly discharge it (an hour of running time maybe). Replace whatever needs replacing, alternator and or battery. Clean up any corroded battery connections…

Note: Many retail auto parts store will test both the battery and alternator for free if you ask. My local Sears auto repair place does this for me gratis.


Thank you for all your help! I bought a $20 12v charger and charged the battery last night. After a three hour charge the car started right up. I am going to test the alternator/battery this week and if necessary replace both.


Best of luck Joel. You sound like you are on the right track.