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Pothole Kills Car

Hi all,

Long time listener, first time poster. Well as luck would have it, Last night, Cristma Eve, Santa Daley brought me a most wonderful present; a pothole that nearly ripped the right front wheel from the axle and killed ALL electrical power completely! It’s like the battery isn’t there.

Oh, but it IS there, still connected. I haven’t done any Haynes manual applications yet but I suspect there is something amiss with the battery. I’ve check any relays I could find, checked fuses and leads, all appears okay. The still sits however, dead. in the snow. Sad.

Any ideas what could have been jarred loose, shocked, cracked or otherwise damaged buy an import eating pothole that would cause complete electrical system failure in a 1996 Honda Civic Ex?

battery not cracked and has a charge? could the main in line fuse from the battery been damaged? Is there any power getting to the starter?

Check the battery with a voltmeter. Then follow both the positive and negative cables until you discover the problem…

Try resetting the inertia switch, aka fuel cutoff switch. It’s primary function is to shut off in an accident but a pothole can jar it enough. The owner’s manual tells you where it is.

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I thought the battery being cracked was a good possibility too.

But check THIS out…
I just got off the phone with an Independent source who suggested The inertia/Fuel pump switch JUST NOW!!! Wierd! AND HIS NAME IS KEN!! THAT’s FUNNY

Will check tomorrow, and post back with results.

You would have to take a test light and start working your way out from the battery positive terminal. If everything is dead, and the battery/cables appear to be fine, then you should consider the possibiity of a blown fusible link.

Something else you should consider if the pothole was that bad is that you may now have some wheel and suspension damage. Bent wheel, bent wheel hub, bent lower control arm, etc, etc, etc.

This’ll be the second Rim I have straightened this year.

Visually, the suspension looks fine, It rolled from where it stopped to where we pushed it, after I changed over to the lil’ gimp wheel, but Aye, a good lookover by a mechanic would be a good idea.

What’s a fusible link?

This is a fusible link for your car. There are several involved and should be located in a plastic box under the hood and generally near the battery.

Fusible links are fuses in which everything electrical on the car must pass through except for the main battery cable that powers the starter motor.
When a link goes you can lose all or most electrical functions. They’re easy to check and cheap to replace.

The problem with a visual inspection is that something can be bent and it will not be noticeable to the naked eye at all. If often requires a trip to the alignment rack as a first step.

Oh I’ve seen those! The box is right next to the battery compartment, er, shelf. I’ll check them too…

hrmm, to be really clear, The power doorlocks don’t even work, let alone the starter. Nothing gets power, it’s like i took the battery out. I’ll have a lot of checking to do.

I agree with the inertia switch idea. save yourself a lot of trouble and reset it again even if you have already - it may take time for the switch to settle down. Inertia switches have been built into cars since the early '80s.
Second idea, consult legal action. Driving is a privilidge but faulty roads that cause damage to private property or might cause accidents are a liability. This situation is no different then the mayor coming out to your home and using a sledge hammer to adjust the engine. You’re a tax payer, and no matter how liberal your local governement likely is, you still have rights.

The cable to the starter is not the problem and the reason behind the starter not working is because the starter solenoid must be operative.
The solenoid is powered through the ignition switch and that power comes through one of the fusible links I mentioned.

Just takes a little patience and thought. I think you’ll find this problem is going to be pretty minor in nature.
(Something to consider is this. If the battery is not fastened down securely and the battery positive terminal covered with an insulator, a large pothole can cause the battery to fly upwards. This can lead to the bare battery positive terminal making contact with metal on the hood. When this happens fusible links and/or fuses can pop instantly.)

well i dont know about this car but if he has no power to anything it will not be a problem with an inertia switch and furthermore ford is the only vehicle i am aware of having an inertia switch and it only disables the fuel pump, does not cut power to entire vehicle. maybe other vehicles have them,im not saying they dont, but cant imagine they are much different in design to the ford switch. i would investigate the fusible link possibility.

ah I see Obiwan.

MAn thank for this troubleshooting! this is gold!

Ah yes, my correctly positioned atop the soapbox friend! That complaint has been filed and the case number copied to my “from the desk of” pad. :slight_smile:

You know, Chicago is SUPPOSED to be reimbursing citizens for this stuff, but last I heard, our local news reported that it took 6 months for the average reimbursement. To add insult to injury, of the 15,000 or so claims filed last year, only 400 have been reimbursed. :frowning:

Back to basics…does the battery have a charge? check fuse boxes…any power to anything beyond the positive battery terminal?

The problem could be with the battery itself. If you hit the pothole hard enough, it can shock the battery where the plates inside break loose and contact each other. This results in a shorted out battery which will kill it instantly.


Why not swap batteries with another car? It would give you instant confirmation or denial that it is your battery, and you can continue from there.

Get a lawyer and sue them if you want it faster.

You might consider contacting your insurance company to see if they will cover it.

Am I the only one that thinks you should take it to a mechanic and have it looked at for more than electrical problems? If it nearly ripped your wheel off it’s axle, there’s gotta be some kinda damage to CV joints, and possible some other suspension components. Talk to your insurance agent, you might be able to claim the damage on your insurance.

EVERYTHING is dead…It’s NOT the inertia switch…The OP apparently does not have a VOM or a test light or he would have it running by now…The battery is shorted or open internally or the main power lead to the fuse box (probably protected by a fusible link) is shorted somewhere or the ground cable to the engine block is torn off. On many cars, the fusible link that feeds the cars electrical system is connected to the battery cable at the STARTER…It may have gotten torn off when the car dropped into the pot-hole…