Hello. I’m a girl that knows nothing about cars so please be gentle. I was driving on the freeway and all a sudden my radio and dashboard lights went out. I was completely freaked and turned down a road and I could’ve sworn I heard a clunking sound from beneath my car. I went out to look if anything fell from beneath it and nothing did. There isn’t anything hanging down. Then, when I tried to turn the car on again the lights in the car worked again but it won’t turn over and is making a clicking sound. I tried wiggling my spark plugs and started it again and it worked, but when I turned it off and turned it on again it wouldn’t work. Do you think it’s a spliced wire or damaged fuse? I’m completely lost and this is not happening at a good time.
When you say it wouldn’t work, do you hear the clicking sound? If so that is a sign of a weak battery or a bad starter. Since you lost the radio and dash lights I am thinking this is a problem with the battery or alternator. (not a splice or fuse) Wiggling the spark plugs and getting it to work was just luck, this did not do anything to make the car start. See if you can get to Advance Auto, Auto Zone or a similar store, they frequently will check your battery and charging sytem for free, give them a call first to make sure. That would be a good first step. How old is the battery? With a weak batery you can have lights but not enough juice to turn the starter. You will probably end up taking this to a good independent shop to have them fix it unless it is just a weak battery.
First guess is a dead battery. How old is the battery? Make/model/year/miles of the car?
This could be as simple as corroded battery cable terminals.
Even if you replace the battery, cleaning the old terminals is a must.
Battery connections are the first place to begin when you have a “No Crank” 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 http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/p/kd-tools-terminal-battery-brush-kdt201/25980576-P?searchTerm=terminal+brush.
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.
I agree that–most likely–the battery is dead.
However, this can be the result of another problem, namely an alternator or belt issue.
Since the OP thinks that she may have heard something falling out from underneath the car, I would suggest that she check to verify that the belt driving the alternator is still present. It may have snapped and fallen off.
Even if the belt is still intact, it is entirely possible that the alternator on this mystery vehicle with an unknown amount of odometer mileage has failed, due to its age.
It indeed could be a spliced wire or damaged fuse. But that wouldn’t be what I’d make as a first guess. But since you mention those possibilities, may I ask why? Have you had those problems on this car before? Is there any aftermarket electrical work been done on this vehicle, like a sound system or alarm?