HELP 2000 Protege short circuiting, when attempting to start!

Good Afternoon,

So I just repaired the horn on my 2000 Protege ( which was a broken connector on the horn➡ I repaired it using a female connector, cut off the old connector) , but now when I try to start the car the electrics are so wack:

  1. the odometer flashes and the cigeratte lighter socket flashes ( have a usb in there)

  2. the battery light is Flickering on the dash, and I hear the relays clicking in the fuse box

  3. the radio refuses to turn on➡ but I hear what I think is the cd player spinning.

Yeah so there is a short circuit :arrow_right: how do I repair this?

Btw to start the car, you have to put it in neutral ( some stupid security design that the car came with)

I tried jump starting, wouldn’t start.

Please help I have a big appointment on Monday!!


There are some unknowns here but maybe there is more than one issue. The battery light flickering could be a sign of a dying battery.

If by would not start with a jump you mean the starter solenoid is not engaging, that could be an issue with the battery, battery cable ends, or (assuming this is a manual transmission) a problem with the clutch safety switch.

A clutch safety switch or neutral switch on an automatic transmission is not a stupid security design. It’s designed to keep people from killing themselves or someone else.

Is this the same Mazda Protege that is so rusted out, that we advised you to junk it and cut your losses?


The first thing to do is clean all the battery connections, using a wire brush. If that doesn’t fix the issue then check the voltage getting to the main fuse in the panel under the hood. If the voltage is fluctuating there then the wire that supplies the power to the panel from the battery may have internal corrosion at the connection to the battery.

1 Like

A short circuit would blow a fuse and then there’d be nothing happening on that circuit. You describe symptoms of an internally bad battery, or bad connections to it and the body. Corrosion inside a wire or at connections quite possible. Has the car had a collision, bad rust, or stood in water?

And you should prepare now to rent a car to get to that appointment.

1 Like

I think the answer is Yes to all above .


First remove anything not absolutely necessary connected to the electrical system, such as the usb unit in the cig lighter. Good idea to remove power to the horn circuit too, as this all started after work on the horn. Next use a volt meter to measure the battery voltage at the battery, then on the affected circuits. Anything less the 12 volts could cause this symptom.

1 Like

Thanks for one of the only useful posts.

What unknowns are interested in?

I meant the car doesn’t start in park, only in neutral, it’s a stupid anti theft circuit previous owner installed.

What if the car doesn’t start after I jumped it to my old 20yo protege which starts perfectly fine?

The horn works when the ignition is off.

I noticed there is a wierd harness connecting a grey wire to yellow wire. ( Could be the neutral anti theft circuit previous owner was talking about?)

All relays look good, I put even put the ignition relay from new PROTEGE to old Protege and old protege starts fine!

What next?

No it’s a new one in mint condition, just coincidentally came across this deal, and happens to be the same as my old Protege!

Body like new, one owner low kms

Well, I’m glad to hear you’ve got a car that seems to be in good condition . . . I refuse to agree with you that it’s in mint condition, because of the number of discussions you’ve currently got going on, in regards to this vehicle that is new to you

A 2000 is not New . And this does not meet the criteria for Mint.

1 Like

I’m still assuming (one of those unknowns I mentioned) that the starter motor will not crank the engine over physically.

Based on that alone I suspect, battery, cables, and less likely; a fuse or fusible link. For what it’s worth, if the battery cable connections are not very good then jumping it can be pointless.

I tend to think you’re overthinking this thing. Surely you’re not saying that a 2000 Protege is new or mint. Neither word applies unless a Mazda dealer stashed it back in a warehouse upon delivery in 1999.

You may have to use Uber for the appt and hopefully sort out the problem later.

Sounds like you wore down an old car battery while working on the horn, you might be able to recharge the battery but will likely need to replace the battery if it goes dead so easily.

I am not going to question the condition of the appearance of your car, I have worked on many low mileage like new cars that have come out of hiding for the Takata airbag recall.

Well it’s the best condition Protege I’ve seen ever, and I’ve seen many low kms, body in immaculate condition.

Yeah I did see one of the cables going to the starter seem to be chaffed.

The battery is brand new.

What is your definition of a good battery connection? The connectors are tight.

Just a lot of ticking from the horn and headlight relay, and also from the starter when car is in park with ignition on➡ note that when it goes to neutral this ticking disappears.

Horn works when ignition is off, but doesn’t work when it’s on ( wierd electrical)

What other repair forums do you use?

Do you know how to perform a voltage drop test?

If so, that will give you many answers, in regards to the wiring

Not enough energy in the battery to power both at the same time, recharge the battery.

Why do you think I should perform a voltage drop test?

Can’t believe none of the experts on here recommended fusible links?