Chevy Tahoe 2007 dead in driveway

Son is delivering this car to Alaska; supposed to leave right now, and schedule will be really messed up if I can’t fix it NOW.

Brought car here from local owner about 4 days ago, and it has been sitting unused in d’way. (Son even practised changing tire to prepare for trip.)

Headlights and dashboard light up OK. All the idiot lights (I think) come on for the self-test. When we turn the key to “start” it sounds like the starter solenoid clicks, but the starter does not run. Instead, the dashboard lights go dark. When we release the key from “start” the lights come back on (with some flickers) and the CD player does some shuffling (maybe thinking it has been turned off and restarted??).

My guess is that the starter is loading down the battery. Battery terminals look pristine. I crawled underneath, but can’t find the starter to look at the connections there.

Battery is taking about 4 amps from a charger.

Any suggestions?

In my non-expert experience, one cannot eyeball the battery terminals. If you don’t have a simple meter, take off the terminals and clean them.

If you do have a simple meter, place the leads across the BATTERY POSTS, NOT THE CABLE, verify around 13 volts, then have someone hit the starter.

If the battery posts stay at 13 volts, the cable connections need cleaned.

If the battery posts drop to a very low voltage, the battery is way discharged or bad. I can’t help you with that, it will need to be charged and load tested on a tester.

If you have a voltmeter, measure the voltage across the battery terminals before and during cranking. It should measures 12.6 volts with no load, 12.2 to 12.4 volts with the headlights on, and then should pull down to around 10 volts while cranking. It sounds like yours goes to nearly zero when it tries to crank, the question is whether it dips this low at the battery terminals, or whether there is a wiring problem somewhere external to the battery.
My first guess is that you have a defective cell in the battery. If voltage dips nearly to zero at the terminals, that is the most likely culprit. A hydrometer would tell for sure, if you can pry the top of the battery open.
My worst fear is that you bought a vehicle that has been dipped in water and has water in the starter and goodness knows where else.
Here’s hoping it is the battery!!

Thanks for clearing my thinking.

Addendum: car has only 38K miles.

Update: after about 15 minutes charging, we did get a few good cranks out of the starter, so “discharged battery” moves to the top of the list.

We’ll let it charge some more, and I’ll check the btty voltage the next time we try to start.

And if that is the case, then we’re back to the “wht did my batery discharge sitting in the driveway” question. Ugh!!

Thank you, too, Manolito.

After another 15 minutes charging the car started. Battery voltage was fine with no load, and dipped only slightly when starting. I guess that means the btty was discharged, and I can only hope that he unknowingly left some light on for four days. (Don’we hate those “why did my btty discharge overnight” questions!)

He promised to get the btty and charging system checked, even at a dealer, in Chicago (next stop).

Man, is that a BIG vehicle. And, BTW, I did not buy it. He is just delivering it for the Alaska-dwelling owner who buys his car here in his hometown because it’s cheaper that way.

If he makes it to Chicago, don’t worry about the dealer. Walmart and Advance Auto both test car batteries for free and do free installation on them also, if needed. Others test for free, but you have to install. I hope he is now taking a set of jumper cables with him, until this gets resolved. I also assume his agreement includes the owner footing bill for all needed repairs.

My experience has been that you get better service in the smaller towns vs large towns. People are more neighborly, just care more and will go out of the way to get you back on the road quickly, so don’t get hung up on stopping in the big cities for repairs.

Thanks, JHRoy. I agree with all your points, but he has some overiding schedule issues – including the stop in Chicago – so a dealership might be the best option (ugh!), especially if we want to look for a parasitic drain. The owner had agreed to be responsible for all repairs, and my son is trying to contact him (I think the guy is in Europe right now).

I have a feeling that the problem would not have been noticed if the car had sat for only one day. We’ll see – it will sit in Chicago from Friday evening 'til at least Saturday night. Son did call after about 5 hours on the road, reporting that it was going OK and that car had restarted OK. (I don’t know if I would have risked turning it off :>) )

I made sure he had jumper cables AND the old battery charger and a long heavy-duty outdoor extension cord – even if he has to leave them in Alaska. And I reminded him always to park so the battery is accessible.

Regarding “small towns” – I was on here a few weeks ago when the same son had no-start problem in middle-of-nowhere on our Ford Escort. After it got towed in the small town mechanic found the positive btty cable corroded through, and replaced it for free.

and I can only hope that he unknowingly left some light on for four days.

The Tahoe and all other GM trucks have had battery rundown protection on them for quite a few years already. It will turn off automatically if any lights or accessories are left on and discharge the battery. The circuit is supposed to disable the load with enough charge left to insure the engine can be restarted.

Even though it’s not old, the battery, if original, has 38k miles on it. Can the battery cells be tested with a hydrometer to see if one’s bad? I’ve had Delco batteries die on me, left my wife stranded. By the way, you MUST get this fully diagnosed and fixed before son heads off to Alaska. It is a long trip with very few options if a car breaks down. No better definition for “the middle of nowhere” than along the Alaska highway in Canada.

I’ll make a few points.
One is that the battery testing methods used by Wal Mart, etc. are a bit shaky to be honest.
Two is that the cable ends should be removed and cleaned.
Third is that a new battery is cheap insurance and before heading off on a trip like that I’d invest 50 bucks in a new one so this problem would not reoccur out in the boondocks while a bear is trying to claw its way into the vehicle.

Wow! Even more good advice/info which I will try to pass on to my son. Two comments: 1) I’m surprised that 38K is not considered low mileage for a battery, even though early failures do happen; 2) I (rather,the owner) will be delighted if a replacement battery costs only $50.

I note that nobody has mentioned that the charging system should be checked. I don’t think anybody does that for free.

I also that we missed the valid reason to use a dealer: this should be under warranty (about a year old; about 40K miles, now).

I am, indeed, concerned about his being out in the boonies with an unknown problem. But I try not to show it so his Mother doesn’t freak out.

BTW, when I was under the car looking for the starter I saw some thick wires or harnesses wrapped in duct(?) tape and electrical tape. It was a neatly doen job, but it looked very non-original.

How’s your son making out with the Tahoe?

An update, with more excitement. This is more venting than a request for advice, but please tell me if you know anything specific. I do not know what engine the Tahoe has. (Recall that the car’s owner is on a trip to Europe.)

Battery got tested “OK” at Walmart somewhere between Chicago and Minneapolis. Car running fine and no problem starting. Spent Monday night camped out in Theodore Roosevelt Nat’l Park, NDak. Nice trip so far.

Got a call late this morning. “Have to add oil. Owner’s Manual says, in italics, use only oil that meets GM spec xxxx. That’s just trying to get you to buy the oil at a dealer, and any name brand oil of correct weight is OK, right?” I’m thinking “why does it need oil with only 40K miles on it???” But I say “Uh, maybe yeah. Maybe the oil container says on it whether it meets the GM spec.” Nope. No time to check with the CarTalk guys or with bobistheoilguy, so I concur with his putting in a quart of Havoline.

Late this afternoon he calls from a Chevy dealer in Billings, Mont. Service Manager says he never heard of anything like this. There is no external oil leak, and it should not be using oil. Must be an internal leak. Service Manager thinks there is a TSB about it. A couple of techs are working on it, but probably won’t be done this evening. No report yet from Service Manager on the electrical issue. Could I please get on the Internet and find the time difference between Billings and Oslo, Norway. (8 hours, in case you are interested.)

If you have advice for us, please, no horror stories about Stearlerships and Service Managers. My son has the URL for this thread, and there is no need to give him extra worry :>) I think for his situation the dealership is the way to go. Maybe Billings will qualify as a small town (IAW Jayhawkroy’s post). And either it’s under warranty, or the owner will pay for it.

Lot of problems for a '07.

The '07 Tahoe uses a 4.8L or a 5.3L engine (5.3 has a choice of two: reg unleaded gas or reg unleaded gas(Flexfuel)

FYI, the truck has the old normal warranty of bumper to bumper 36k miles.

Stick with the reg unleaded. UNLESS they made a change in '07. It’s marked on the gas cap which to use anyway.

I have to agree with the Montana sm as far as the Tahoe should NOT be burning oil. You have to push this vehicle REALLY hard to burn oil. (Unless there is something we are unaware of)

You’ll get the nay-sayers trying to tell you it’s normal as far as the manufacturers go. BS. My Tahoe has over 120k miles on it and doesn’t burn oil between 3k mile oil changes.

IF there is an internal oil leak (which isn’t totally impossible) the coolant level in the PRESSURIZED coolant reservoir will be slowly dropping every time the engine runs.

IF the dealer mech and sm say they can’t find where the leak is, (IF there is one) have your son remove the engine oil filler cap and check for milky colored oil on the bottom.

If the mech thinks there is an internal oil leak they should be doing a compression and a leak-down test.

Has the engine been overheating at all?

Did the mech say anything about those non-factory wrapped wires you seen? I’m wondering if there has been some add-on done here we’re unaware of that MAY be causing the electrical glitch. I sure hope not.

I’m not trying to alarm you or your son, I’m simply giving you a heads up.

I put myself in your sons’ place and answer what I would do and look for.

I also agree as likely most others will, that as long as the oil weight is right the brand doesn’t matter.

The owners manual probably specifies using 5W30 as mine does. Its also written on the oil filler cap.

If I used my truck year round (like I do my van) I’d use 5W30 in winter and 10W30 in summer (I prefer the 10W30 when pulling my trailer.

One thing I would do is buy an extra (fully charged) battery ‘Just in case’.

Gas stations are a long ways apart especially the further north you go on the Alaska Hwy. We don’t know how far he has to go.

One of our regulars here may be willing to part with some local wisdom of that area. Am I right Cougar?

I’m getting awfully long-winded on some posts. Sorry.

Tell him (for me anyway) we wish him a future uneventful and safe trip.

Thanks for the support and advice. Yes, none of this should be happening. I’m wondering if the owner bought it on looks instead of having it checked by a good mechanic.

I doubt that it was overheating; he would have noticed it and mentioned it. I hope he can get a wireless connection for his laptop there and see your post. And I hope the dealer’s service guys are as knowlegeable as you are. We’ll see what news morning brings.

More news, 8:30PM Montana time. Both the oil leak and the charging problem are covered by TSBs that came in the last two weeks, and will be fixed under warranty. Service Manager (“nice, helpful, honest” says my son) says that without the TSBs “we never could have found those problems.” I guess they are not as knowledgeable as Roadrunner.

The bad news is that it won’t be fixed 'til Friday because the parts have to come from Denver. That is going to mess up the schedule big time, but it’s better than being stranded in grizzly country.

Dealer gave him a Chevy Cobalt rental under the warranty, but made him pay the $37/day CDW. Son is wondering if Tahoe owner’s insurance even covers son driving the warranty rental car. My assignment is to ask my insurance carrier if my insurance covers anything.

If I learn anything interesting about the repairs I’ll post again.

Thanks, all, for your help.

What I posted is taken from past experience and the fact I just happen to own the same kind of vehicle.

By all means, I’d like to hear the outcome of all this too.

Son reported in 9 PM Montana time, Wed. The oil consumption problem has something to do with “valve stems not ground properly” (this is second hand from a person just beginning to learn about cars). But the very private data base says the present vehicle had the fix done July 15 (i.e., just before the current owner bought it). So if it’s still consuming oil, they are talking about rebuilding or replacing the whole engine UNDER WARRANTY. But that would keep the car in Billings for a week. No good.

So the Service Manager concurs with getting a case of oil and pressing onward, checking the oil level appropriately. (“That car is too smart to let you damage it from lack of oil.”) And leave it for the owner to get fixed in Alaska.

No word on the charging system issue, but it has given no problems since leaving home.

Son sounds excited. I tried not to let him know how concerned I am. I hope the freakin’ bears don’t get him in the middle of the Yukon Territory.

Don’t worry. The freakin’ bears are in BC. And maybe the southern Yukon Territory, but there’s just normal bears in the middle… :slight_smile:

If he’s motoring north from Montana, he likely pass Calgary and Edmonton Alberta and not even go into BC.
There’s no maybe about there being bears in the Yukon.

‘Normal’ bears? Bears are unpredictable, but I wouldn’t call that ‘normal’.

Perhaps I should have said, Unpredictable is ‘normal’ for bears.