2004 Nissan Sentra 1.8s Possible Electrical System or Alternator Issue

I’ve got a 2004 Nissan Sentra 1.8s. Not too long ago, the car wouldn’t turn over while I was at a strip mall parking lot. No rapid clicks only a flicker of the dash and then nothing. When I would turn the key to the first click in the ignition process, it would turn on the dash and radio. However, if I turned on the headlights (since it was night), the whole system died. Some of the times, it seemed like it was going to kick into gear but nothing happened. For whatever reason, the car eventually did turn over and start and I drove it home.

Nothing else happened for awhile adn then the same issue at a gas pump on one fo the coldest days of the year. This time nothing happened at all adn so I had it towed to my dealership. They determined the battery was dead which couldn’t be true considering it wasn’t more than a month old. They switched out batteries and the car worked fine. I had the “dead” battery checked out and 3 other places stated the battery was fine. I digress.

Not more than a week after this happened, my car started acting up again in much the same manner. Like the very first instance, I was able to get it turned over and drove it home. So far, it’s worked okay but now the power locks and rear defrost don’t work. I’m wondering if it can’t be the alternator, blown fuses and a wonky electrical system in general. I too am hesitant about taking it back to the dealers unless they can credit the money to have the battery replaced towardw hatever they find out.

Does anyone have any ideas? Thank you for all your help.

I would start with the simple stuff, like the battery connections and the grounds. Make sure the battery connections are tight and check the connection between the negative battery cable and the ground on the car’s “frame.” If you can, take a look at the ground connection from the engine as well.

I agree with Craiq58. This would be something electrical which affects several electrical circuits. The electrical power supply (aka: power distribution) connections, and circuit grounds (several) need to be checked. The power connection, and other connections, on the alternator shouldn’t be forgot.
Let one of the auto parts stores check the battery and alternator condition. They can do it in the car while you stay in the car.
A defective ignition switch is a possibility. It’s not that difficult for a mechanic to check an ignition switch with a voltmeter.

So yesterday, my car was flickering when I went to leave work. After a jump, I was able to make the 30 minute drive (due to avoiding traffic) home. This morning I get nothing. Obviously the battery is not being charged for some reason. I’m hoping the dealers can juice the battery or at least charge it and then try to figure out what the problem is as obviously it’s not the battery. I’m going to try and describe the symptoms as best I can and have them check the alternator, alternator belt, the battery wires, grounds, the electrical system in general and the ignition switch. Can anyone give estimates (labor aside) on how much each part might be to replace or work on?

Cheers and thanks again for the feedback. Sorry I didn’t say so sooner but I’ve been also battling a nasty sinus infection.

The problem with the door locks and rear defrost are a seperate issue I think. The starting problem could be due to a bad power connection to the ignition switch or possibly the switch itself. If the battery is really being discharged while the car is parked then there seems to be a drain on the system and that needs to be checked. Have the charging system checked also to make sure it is operating as it should. You may want to take this to a shop that specializes in electrical repairs.

Turn some accessories on like lights and things while the car is running. Take a length of electric wire, touch one end to a bolt on the body and the other to the engine. If you get sparking that you can barely see, it maans that you have to improve the ground from engine to body. You can use a trouble light instead. The brighter the light, the worse the ground. Do some of your electric things work slowly? Like wipers and windows.