Friend on side of the road right now

I just got a call from a friend whose car just died out on the road, and I wasn’t much help, but thought I’d ask around on here in case someone has a good answer that can help her figure out what type of repair she’ll need.

She’s been out of the country for 3 months and the car has been unused this entire time. Today she got it started & filled up at a gas station, but then the car wouldn’t start. Someone gave her a jump start and off she went. Then as she was on the ramp to the interstate, the entire car apparently shut down. She is now on the side of the road and doesn’t even have power to her emergency blinkers… no sounds when she turns the key, etc.

She’s lining up a tow as I type, but does anyone have ideas? Can a battery problem somehow cause the entire car to shut down while running? Did something get shorted out?

Parked for three months ?
Maybe battery post / cable end corrosion ?
Dis-assemble, clean and re-assemble batter cables from battery.

Yes, a totally dead battery can do this, but I’d think it’d charge up some once she got a jump, so the alternator might be bad, too.

But Ken’s right, first check the cable connections and give the battery a full charge.

My guess is that the alternator was killed by asking it to charge a deeply discharged battery. That puts a lot of stress on it, more than the usual light charging in a car that’s used regularly.

Yes, a lack of power will kill the car - though once its running it would be the alternator. Most of the car’s important stuff requires electricity (fuel injectors, spark plugs, sensors, etc).

So she’ll need a cable inspection and test of battery & charging system.

I’ll bet on a dead battery. Do you know how old it is? Did she put it on a battery charger before driving the car? A new battery is cheaper than a tow.

Awesome – thanks for the quick response. She has roadside assistance & a free tow so the car is headed somewhere in the neighborhood where we can try to redeem or replace the battery, or take it to a local shop if the alternator turns out to be the culprit. Appreciate all the help, everyone!

(One more thing – she bought the car used 1.5 years ago so she doesn’t know the age of the battery, but sounds like it might be worth replacing it one way or another.)

In this case, I would just take it to a qualified shop and let them figure it out. Even though the overall cost might be higher, I would not try to piecemeal any required repairs.

Where was it parked

Sounds like the alternator isn’t charging. You’ll want to have a charging system check done; should tell the tale.

She took it into a local shop & they ran tests on the charging system. It was indeed the alternator. Nice work folks… thanks again!