My Car Won't Start

This morning I went out to my car and it won’t start. When I opened the door the door ajar light came on but as soon as I tried to start it the engine would not turn over and the lights went completely off. After a minute or so the door ajar light would come back on but again, after trying to start it the light will go out and the car will not start. The battery was replaced about a month ago so I don’t think that’s the problem, but I’m not sure. I even stayed in the car after it got power back and turned on the inside lights and left them on and they seem to stay on indefinitely until I try to start the car and then they go off. Does anyone have any ideas?

Battery may have been replaced but maybe the terminals werent cleaned.n You want no corrosion between battery post and terminal.

I checked the terminals for corrosion and they are clean. There is a small amount of grease on them to prevent corrosion. The terminals are tight as well.

The next step is to determine whether the battery is charging when the car is running. My guess is that it is not. At a minimum, you need a voltmeter and a battery charger or a second car with jumper cables. Once you get your car running, have someone press the gas to get the car running at fast idle, check the voltage across the battery terminals with the voltmeter. You should see 13.5 to 14.5 volts DC at the battery clamps as the battery charges. If you do not, you need charging system work, most likely a new alternator, but you should have the system diagnosed by someone who does charging system work.

Besides checking to see if the alternator is charging the battery, check the battery voltage without the car running.

The battery voltage should be roughly between 11.9V (fully discharged) and 12.6V (fully charged). If the battery voltage is less than 11V there is a chance it has a dead cell and it will have to be replaced. New batteries have been known to fail.

Ed B.

I attempted to jump my car but it still won’t start at all, or even try to start. The only change with the cables hooked up to it is that the lights will stay on and come right back after I try to start it instead of taking a minute or so to come back on.

Would that cause it to not start when being jumped? I don’t have a multimeter on me right now to be able to check it.

The battery may be so discharged that may have to leave the jumper cables on for a while before trying to start the engine. It would be best if you could recharge the battery using a battery charger instead of jumping it. Even if you do start the engine with a jump the battery is severely discharged and should be charged up using a battery charger.

If you don’t know why the battery level drained down then you are going to have to find out what happened so it doesn’t happen again.

Is the starter motor turning? If you have jumpers connected and it still won’t crank it’s possible the starter motor is seized or stuck.

When you turn the key do you hear anything? clicking?

I think you have weak alternator. This part often fails in stages, providing some charge in the process of failing but not quite enough. You replaced the battery with a full charge and that bought you some time, but the failing alternator is not doing enough to charge the battery during normal use. Change the alternator.

Your totally discharged battery is messing up a lot of stuff. This “stuff” is not a piece of hardware but it is your comprehension of what is wrong with your car and how to get it fixed. Many non-mechamics cannot grasp what is wrong when, “well I have jumper cables hooked up so now the car should crank right and try to start”. Things deviate from what you expect when you are dealing with an entirely discharged battery. Pull that battery out of the car and charge it with a shop battery charger (not a trickle charger). Then you can test the alternator for output and the vehicle for a parasitic draw (after module timeout).

I had my father look at the car and we figured out what was going on. The red battery cable was loose where the wire connects to the metal part of the cable. We were able to fully tighten that and now it works perfectly. Thanks for all the help everyone!

Glad to hear it was an easy/cheap fix. It might not be a bad idea to replace the positive cable when you have a chance though. Thanks for posting back with the results, very few take the time to do this.

Ed B.