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Car Won't Start

I have a 95 Ford Escort Wagon XL. Two days ago, in the middle of some errands, I jumped in, turned the key and nothing - no lights, no sound, nothing. Now this has happened with the car before, and I had been able to fix it by removing, cleaning and replacing the positive battery cable to the battery. I did it again this time, but on the first attempt to start, I got nothing (though the service light on the hood and internal lights were one - though no dashboard or radio). However, the fourth time (I’m persistent if not smart…) I turned the key it started right up. I drove directly home, turned off the car, tried to start it and - nothing. NO lights inside or out, no click, nothing. So, I replaced the battery yesterday. Now, I get the light on the hood (the little one that enables you to puzzle over your engine in the dark…) and the internal light (on the ceiling) but only intermittent beeping and a click on the first time I turn the key, but not afterwards. I get no radio no nothing else, and, if I try to start the car more than twice I lose the lights I did have. Help!

Check the ground connections. Cleaning and tightening the battery connections is only half the job. The cables must also be clean and tight at their OTHER ends, too. Also check the connections at the starter, and the engine-to-chassis ground.

Ignition switch worn out?

how old is the battery and have you tested it for static voltage and voltage while be run and charged…if you have good ground to body (follow neg termimal aand clean and retighten ground & that doesn’t help, suggest you may just need a new battery or repair to charging system…most parts stores will test this for you for free if you don’t have the tools…

Good advice from MC. Also consider the possibility of an internal problem with the battery cables. they can go bad internally.

Off-again, on-again starting, and losing the lights, is very typical of dirty battery cable connections.

The old Motor car repair manuals describe a simple test in which you turn the headlights on and have someone watch them while you try to start the car. If the lights stay bright but the engine doesn’t turn over, there is trouble in the starter circuit. If the lights dim or go out, the trouble is in the battery, battery cables, or connections.

In your case, if the headlights dim, go out, or won’t come on to begin with, it will likely be the cables or connections, since you have a new battery.

If you leave the headlight switch on for a few minutes (even if the lights don’t go on), and then feel of the cables and connections, some spots may be noticeably warm. Those areas will have been heated up due to extra resistance, and are most likely the source of the trouble. The first place to check is the battery terminals, then the other ends of the cables, then the cables themselves.

The clamp-and-post type battery terminals give more trouble than side terminals, and are also a bit harder to clean up. They can look OK but still have enough gunk on them to interfere with current flow. You need to get down to bright metal on the post and the inside clamp surfaces. Sandpaper will work, but a wire-brush battery terminal cleaning tool is better.

Be sure to wear safety goggles when working on this or any other parts of a battery. The crud that comes off the clamps and posts contains some battery acid and related chemicals. Getting some in your eye won’t blind you, but it sure does hurt. If a cable clamp won’t come off a post, don’t pry underneath it as you could break the post; use a battery cable puller.

After cleaning up the posts and clamps, coat them with a thin layer of vaseline or other light grease, then clamp them down. You would think the grease would interfere with the current flow, but it doesn’t.