Car loses all electrical power while running

I apologize in advance for the long explanation, but I’m not sure what information is relevant so I’m including it all.

On August 12, I hit a somewhat deep pothole that resulted in a loud clanking while driving. Took the car to the mechanic on August 16 and it turned out to be the subframe bushings making the noise. The bushings were replaced along with the lower control arms and the front left axle. Transmission oil was also supposedly changed.

Upon driving the vehicle home, all seemed to be fine.

A couple of weeks later, I started noticing rattling noises at certain RPMs while in drive. The noise could not be duplicated while in neutral or park and revving the engine.

On September 4, the car was driven about 70 miles on the highway. During the drive I was able to determine that the rattling noise was present at about 2800-3000 RPM. Occasionally at 1500 RPM as well. After making a few stops for food, snacks and whatnot (each time shutting off the car), I stopped at a farmer’s market and shut the car off for about five minutes. I attempted to start the car, but the car was completely dead. No interior lights, power locks, dash lights, or anything. Nothing in the car (such as the A/C or radio) was in the “on” position when I attempted to start the car and nothing was plugged into any of the power/cigarette sockets.

Someone offered to give me a jump and I connected the red cable to my positive terminal, the other end of the red cable to his positive terminal, one end of the black cable to his negative terminal and the remaining end to an unpainted metal part of my car. I attempted to start the engine, and while there was some cranking, it would not quite start. After a few minutes of waiting, I attempted to start it again and it worked. After exiting the car, I happened to see that the owner of the other car had switched my black cable to the negative terminal of my battery. I know that’s not what you’re supposed to do, but it was done.

Once the car was back on, my trip meters were all reset along with my preset radio stations. My contacts list stored in the car for use with bluetooth were still saved, however.

After another 70 highway miles, I arrived at my father’s house to pick up his booster in case I had the problem again before getting the car to the mechanic. Upon leaving his driveway at a very low speed, I was turning the wheel to the right when it suddenly locked - much like it feels when the car has been shut off… only the car was still running. I managed to drive around the block without a problem, but when I left his driveway again, the wheel locked again. During the drive back to my own home, I did not experience the wheel lock again.

Once home, I parked the car and turned the car off - the first time the car had been turned off since the farmer’s market when I had to get a jump. Just as a test, figuring that if the battery was dead, the alternator would have had plenty of time to charge the battery, I waited about five minutes with everything off and tried to start the car. The dash lights came on very briefly but then quickly diminished to nothing as the car failed to start. I hooked up the Noco booster to the battery, went inside the car (noticed the interior lights were now on) and was able to start the car. I turned the car off for the night.

The next day, September 5, I was able to use my key fob to unlock the car to grab something from inside, so I assumed the battery was doing okay.

On September 8, I drove the car into the city, parked it, and returned home without incident (except for the persisting rattle at 2800 RPM).

On September 9, I added half-a-bottle of motor oil to the engine just for good measure before taking the car to my mechanic for a diagnosis. The car started fine. On the way to the mechanic, while making a slow right turn at an intersection, I noticed that my electronics flickered (radio, A/C, wipers turned off briefly) and the steering locked for a split second. I was able to continue the turn and noticed the airbag light had turned on… but then turned off.

At the next stop light, maybe 1000 feet later, I was stopped waiting for the light to change. Before the light changed, everything shut off. No electronics, no engine, no nothing. I couldn’t even turn on my emergency lights to indicate that I was having a problem. I tried to start the car right away, but there was no response from the car. No clicking or anything. I had to waive the cars to go around me. After about five-ten seconds, I tried to start the car again and it fired up. Again, I lost my trip meters and preset radio stations. I was able to get the car to the mechanic without further incident.

The mechanic had me turn on the car and everything I could (A/C, wipers, radio, etc.). He hooked up a voltmeter (?) to the battery while the car was running and said everything looked fine. It was reading around 14V or something like that. He hooked up a diagnostic computer to the inside of the car and it came back as some of the things being offline, as if everything had been recently reset (which of course they had). But otherwise, he was not able to diagnose the issue.

Anybody have any clue what the issue could be? I was thinking it could be the battery, but I really have no idea or experience trying to fix cars. The battery was purchased in February of 2019. Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

your mechanic checked the alternator. why didnt he check the battery or the battery connections? it sounds like the battery is bad or a loose cable. the rattle could be from bad sway bar center links or maybe a heat shield is loose.

Why did you add oil “for good measure”? Was the engine low on oil? Just FYI, you can add too much oil to an engine and cause problems. Don’t get into the habit of adding oil for no good reason.

Is your battery on the same side of the car as where you hit the pothole? I’m wondering if it is, perhaps the pothole hit shook something electrical loose, whether a cable, or even something internal to the battery.

As for the rattling sound…I also was thinking muffler or heat shield. Many moons ago I had a rattling sound that would only happen at interstate speeds and a certain RPM level. Turns out it was something loose in the muffler. A new muffler fixed the problem.

Check both ends of the ground…at the battery and at the other end to make sure they’re not intermittently losing connection. And have the body grounds checked while you’re at it.

Sounds like a battery cable terminal and/or battery post issue. First step should be cleaning those and IMO that should be done every year or so to prevent issues like this.

Looks to me like some potential problem areas are being overlooked and not just the battery cable/post issue. Why did the mechanic not test the battery along with checking connections?

This comes across to me as you have not checked the engine oil level; at least in the way you worded it.You mention engine rattles and adding 1/2 a bottle of motor oil for good measure.
Does that mean added without knowing how much oil was in the engine?

1 Like

You didn’t indicate the year of your Rogue, but it may have a battery current sensor that’s bad.

The computer uses the battery current sensor to determine what the voltage output from the alternator should be.


The Rogue is 2010.

I added the oil because when checking the dip stick, the oil was about halfway between the marks and I had an open bottle in the car.

The battery is on the same side as the side where I hit the pothole.

The mechanic said the battery was okay, but I did not personally witness him checking it. I assume he also checked the connections, but it is of course difficult to diagnose the problem when it is not present. The battery terminals do not look corroded, as in that white/blue stuff that usually forms around the posts.

Last night, I tried to start the car again and it failed to start. I took a multimeter and tested the voltage of the battery from post to post and it tested at 12.6V. However, when testing from the negative post to the positive clamp on the cable, I was only getting 5.6V. So I assume this is the issue. I removed and cleaned the posts/clamps the best I could and now the voltage reads as normal and the car started. I did not have a special tool for that purpose - I will have to get one.


It sounds like you’ve corrected the problem, problematic (high resistance) connections at the battery posts. Not an uncommon thing. I expect the tech disconnected the battery to effect the repairs, which is the correct procedure, but then forgot to re-tighten the battery connectors.

Here’s what I usually do when I suspect battery or alternator problems:

The battery should measure about 12.6 volts before the first start of the day. Then 13-15 volts immediately after starting the engine. Verify that measurements from post to post are within 0.2 volt of measurements from post connector to post connector.