I’ve recently resolved to get over my fear of working on cars and just go for it. So far this hasn’t gone well.
We just had two days of -35 temps (-55 with the windchill) here in northern mn. I was bumbling my way through trying to get my wife’s car to start and I seem to have made the situation worse. The first thing I did was try to charge the battery, I had done this successfully before but didn’t remember exactly how to hook it up. In my haste to get out of the cold I followed directions on the charger for a positively grounded vehicle. So negative lead on the negative terminal positive on chassis. I tried to start the vehicle with it charging this way several times before I realized my mistake. To this point it was acting like a car that couldn’t start in the cold and we’d had a little trouble with it in the morning after some other cold nights. So I suspected it was time to replace the battery, it had never been replaced in the 5 years we’ve owned it. Hooked up correctly it wouldn’t charge over 12.3V
I then went to the store and bought a magnetic block heater (oil pan is aluminum alloy it turns out) and a new battery. The battery did seem to give the dash lights life but the vehicle still struggled to crank. one or two slow cranks and then would stop. I decided to let it go and try when the weather warmed up.
It’s now much warmer, 19 degrees or so, three days later it still won’t start. It definitely would have started right up in this kind of weather four or five days ago. It now does one slow crank and then nothing if you try to start it. If you let off and try again it does the exact same thing. The battery reads 12.6 and the dash lights don’t dim when I try to start it, so it seems to have power (or perhaps the starter isn’t drawing much).
I have cleaned and tightened the terminals, checked for a parasitic draw (I initially thought there was one but realized if I held my meter there 20 or so seconds the reading went down to 20 milliamps), checked it for codes and there are none.
I guess my next move would be to jack it up and remove the starter (I pretty much need to take it out to test the connections and cables, etc. because of it’s location)
It seems to me like I must have either done the starter in cranking on it in the cold, or it isn’t getting sufficient power locally to the starter. Or what would bother me the most, i’ve damaged the ECM or other aspects of the electrical charging it incorrectly.
I’m guessing hooking the charger up as I did would be like putting the positive and the negative leads both on the negative terminal? since it’s negatively grounded?
Any advice would be appreciated. I’m certainly not confident i’m making the right judgements here.