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Car won't start. Battery or something else?

When I went to go shopping this afternoon, I discovered my car wouldn’t start. It wouldn’t even crank, which was strange since it seemed to be running fine just two days ago. At this point I assume either the battery is bad or something else is. It’s a bit hard for me to tell since the engine wouldn’t even try to turn over. Let me list out the what I’ve observed and let me know you what you think the cause may be.

Initial Observations:
When I first tried to turn the the car on it wouldn’t even turn over, in fact, all I could hear was the a fairly loud buzzing from behind the dash board. On further attempts I noticed that the info display (or whatever it’s called) wasn’t displaying the tire pressure readings. (No idea why this might be.) I did later notice some “reluctance” from the automatic door mechanism, and earlier this week I obserserved my car was a bit more reluctant than usual to start, but I assumed it was just the cold weather. After the initial attempt to get my car started, I tried jumping it, but no luck. It still wouldn’t start or even turn over. If it’s the battery, said battery must have a dead cell, however, wouldn’t the engine still try to “turn”?

Later observations:
I tried again this evening after it had gotten dark, since it would let me observe the headlights and such. Same behavior as before. I couldn’t really tell if lights had dimmed. HOWEVER, when I tried yet again a little later I accidentally set off the alarm. Now I observed the lights were dim and the horn weak.

Additionally, when I turned the alarm off I heard that buzz behind the dash again. Most of what I’ve seen makes me lean toward the battery, but this noise bothers me and makes me wonder whether there may be some kind of electrical fault.

Other information: My car is a 2008 Saturn Aura, that I got used in Jan of 2010. I assume the battery is at least that old, since I haven’t gotten it replaced while I’ve owned it.

As things are, it looks like I’ll have to get it towed come Monday. The question is do I have them take it to the dealer or to Autozone. If I can be certain it’s the battery Autozone would be my choice, but since I was unable to successfully jump it, I can’t be sure, hence the dealer may be safer.

The battery is seven years old. It’s about due. Autozone would be fine. Don’t go to the dealer for a battery. If you’re hesitant about going to Autozone take it to an independent shop.

Do not tow it anywhere

Have a friend drop you off at your car. Remove your battery. Go to autozone. Buy a new battery.
Give them the old battery as a core. Go back to your car and install it. In all likelihood, it’ll fire right off

No reason to pay for a tow just yet. At least try to get it going yourself. Replacing a battery isn’t usually very difficult

Make sure you don’t connect the leads (+ve & -ve) backwards.

When they hand you a battery, make sure it’s the same physical size, and the posts are the same type and the posts polarity is correct. Another words, the positive on the new battery is in the same location as the positive of your old battery.

When you get the new battery as suggested by the other posters, make certain that you don’t hold it against you or your clothing, some residual acid could ruin your clothes and possibly burn your skin. Also, it’s a good idea to put some masking tape on the positive battery cable with a + written on it so you don’t mix them up when you bring the new battery back to the car. Good luck! Rocketman

@db4690 Reading the OPs first sentence I would assume the car never left home. I agree he/she could buy and install it themselves, maybe with the help of a friend. However some people don’t feel comfortable doing this sort of thing.

Unless the battery is a real high quality one you have most likely used up the useful life of the battery and would be wise to replace it even it charges back up. Hopefully changing the battery out will get the car started and running again. If you do that yourself I then suggest you immediately take the car to a place that can do a load test on the charging system to see what the condition of the alternator and wiring is. A bad alternator could explain the low battery condition you had and you don’t want to damage your new battery by discharging it. Checking the battery current draw while the car is parked will tell you if there is an excessive current drain on the battery while the car is parked and systems have gone into the sleep mode. Even if the alternator checks out okay it might be wise to replace it due to the age of it.

Reading the OP’s post, I assume that he/she knows nothing about cars and has no mechanical aptitude. With respect to those suggesting that he/she change the battery his/herself, I cannot agree. It’s easy to assume that anybody can do it, but not everybody should.

The battery is due at that age. However, it’s never wise to ignore testing the charging system when getting a new battery. Cable connections should also be checked, and corrosion (if there is any) cleaned off and solid connections made.

While I wouldn’t use our local AutoZone if you beat me with a tire iron, if you have reason to trust yours, they can test the charging system and connections and provide a new battery without any worries. These activities are basic. common, uncomplicated, routine activities that any shop can easily do.

Oh, I almost forgot… wherever you take it, be sure to request that they put a power source on the car while they change the battery so you don’t lose your settings in the security system, the audio system, the Body Control Module (BCM), etc. Any shop can do this, but sometimes they forget if they aren’t asked. If they DO forget you’ll have to “reinitialize” everything.


I wasn’t suggesting that OP actually trust Autozone

I was merely suggesting that OP buy a battery at the store

as far as those memory savers go, I’m all in favor of it . . . theoretically. I used one of those things on one of my Toyotas once. It save the memory, sure, but it also cause the airbag light to remain lit AFTER my battery replacement. And there was no airbag problem before the battery replacement

I simply replaced the battery because it was several years old. it was preventive maintenance. Nothing more, nothing less.

I don’t know exactly why it happened. But the light did not turn off by itself. Ever. I had to clear it with a scan tool. And after that, all was well. That was a few years ago. I have read that it is a common occurrence on toyota