Battery/electrical issues in 97 Escort

Hi all - The one and only car I’ve ever had (got it for my sixteenth birthday) is really giving me the business lately. A couple months ago the AC quit on me followed quickly by a loss of power steering and, shortly thereafter, total electrical failure. Apparently a belt broke, so I had that replaced and everything was okay for a while. Then a few weeks ago, after putting gas in the tank, the car wouldn’t start. Totally dead battery. The old one got drained in all the previous shenanigans, apparently. So now I have a shiny new battery, everything seemed fine, but twice now (both while idling) the electricity has suddenly kicked out and the car dies. It comes right back on, and if I put it in park and turn the ignition, it starts right up, but I’m concerned. A couple of other times the electrical has hicupped without resulting in a total shutdown. I know basically nothing about cars, so… did the battery not get installed properly, i.e., bad contacts? Is something more sinister happening? Am I draining my brand new battery?

It sounds like you may have a bad ignition switch. Do you carry many keys on your keyring? Weight hanging from the ignition switch can wear it out eventually and make the electrical system die randomly and intermittently. The symptoms you describe are quite typical.

It’s also possible you have a loose battery cable or ground wire, so have someone check those too.

Hmmm, that’s interesting - I do have several keys on the ring. I keep all my keys together with a carabiner so I don’t lose them. Guess I need a new system.

Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it!

A heavy bundle of keys damages the lock cylinder, not the ignition switch.

Would damage to a lock cylinder cause these issues?

Yes, Rod is correct, I used the wrong terminology, but the worn lock cylinder can cause those symptoms.

Apparently the lock cylinder and switch are sold as an assembled unit.

The battery supplies power to the car through the power panel under the hood, then to the ignition switch, and that switches power to the dash fuse panel. You might have a bad connection between the battery and the power distribution panel under the hood. A wire ties power from the positive side of the battery to the input of the panel. Make sure that connection is solid. Also check the battery ground connections and clean the battery connection if they haven’t been cleaned already. The trouble could also be due to a faulty ignition switch, as already has been mentioned.