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Electrical system suddenly kaput while reversing

98 Ford Escort (150k miles) died suddenly when I was going in reverse (parking) after a 100minute trip between 7 and 9 am. The entire electrical shut down after going about 30 ft in reverse.
I checked all the fuses and they look OK. The alternator has about 2 years on it. The battery is used up but still works in warm climates.

Now, when i turn the ignition, no diagnostic lights turn on inside. I can only get it to do a warning audio beep on the first section turn of the ignition (warning that door is open). Electrical door locking makes a trying sound but no action. The headlights turn on when i flash the highbeams.

This is a very tough problem because it’s electrical. This car has had no mechanical issues and I take care of it, even driving no more than 65mph and avoiding day driving (due to heat).

What could it possibly be? I have never even imagined a problem like this.

Fusable link???

Explain this a little better…“The battery is used up but still works in warm climates.”

Battery connections are the first place to begin when you have a “No start” situation. Even
if you have a new battery, if the connections are loose, dirty or corroded, you will not be
allowing the full flow of current to pass thru the connections. The connection may be
enough to turn on the lights, but not enough for the huge flow that is needed to operate the
starter. This is where many people say that they know the battery is good….”because the
lights come on”. This is no more a battery test than licking a 9volt battery. It only tells you that there is electricity…not how many volts or the amperage that flows from the battery.
Jump starting may have wiggled the terminal just enough to allow the current to pass and start the engine, but tomorrow you have the same problem.

First remove the cables from the battery and use a wire brush to remove any corrosion and dirt from the battery posts and the cable terminals. There is a tool with a round wire brush for this purpose, found at any auto parts store for less than $10
Before connecting the cables, apply a coating of di-electric grease to the battery posts this will keep oxygen away from the connection so that it will not corrode as fast.

It is just as important that the other end of the cables also have a clean connection. Remove the positive cable from the battery again so that you do not short anything out. Follow both cables to their far ends, remove this connection and wire brush the connection and the cable terminal clean and retighten these connections.

If there was work done recently, there may have been an “engine to body” ground that was not installed following the work. These grounds normally run from the rear of the engine to the firewall and are uninsulated and most are a braided wire. If any of these are found unattached…reattach them.
Remember….this is not a “Sherman Tank” don’t over tighten the connections.
Tight…tight………………too tight…broke!!!


Checked battery voltage: 11.2V. Then 14.2V. Obviously it is busted and i replaced it. Everything works.

Glad you’re back on the road. that will be 14 Obama dollars.