I was driving my car today when everything seemed to fail at once. The dash is saying power steering is out (it does not feel like it is), the check engine light is giving me a code saying communication was lost with the transmission, my traction control light is on, it shifts very hard, the car will lock and unlock itself at random, and it will even stay running for about 5 seconds after I turn off the car and take out the key. Obviously all those systems didn’t fail at once right? This seems like an electronic issue to me. What should I do?
It could all stem from a failing battery. How old is it? I figure anything beyond 4 or 5 years and a battery has done its job long enough.
Poor connections at battery, too. If you disconnect the battery to clean its contacts, first find out if the radio etc. need a code entered to work after disconnection.
The various electronic systems on modern cars to not deal well with voltage “ripples” and surges, and they can react by doing some very bizarre things. These voltage ripples and surges are almost always the result of failing diodes in the alternator. My advice is to get the alternator’s output checked this morning, before you wind-up being stranded on the highway. And, don’t be surprised if your failing alternator has taken the battery along with it, to the grave.
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Thanks for that advice, VDCdriver. Is that testing done at the major auto parts stores, or does it need a mechanic’s equipment and expertise (and an appointment)?
Auto parts stores will usually do this check free. Their competence varies. Worth a try.
You might get an honest and competent person at the auto parts store, or he might have been hired from 7-11 a few days previously.