I had an urgent question last week and this community got me answers so thoroughly and quickly I have to come back for more. See, that car is probably totaled so it’s time to get the other car running before I run out of money on this rental…
In a nutshell: 1997 Ford Escort. My (<1yr old) battery is dead, but even when jumping the car turning the key does nothing. No noise, no lights, nothing. Within the past year I replaced both the battery and alternator. This weekend I replaced the coil pack and spark plug wires. I can’t find any blown fuses (in the car or under the hood).
Driving my car I came to a stop and it was idling rough. Worried, but it did this before for like 2 days then never again, seemed like some contaminated fuel or something, but this didn’t go away after a couple days. At an idle the RPM was inconsistent, fluctuating by an ever-growing amount such that if I didn’t give it some gas it was probably going to stall. Step on the gas and it’s slow to move. Started running rough sometimes even while driving. Determined cylinder 3 was misfiring (diagnostic code).
Seemed likely to be the Coil Pack, and since I could get one online for $30 I figured I’d start there. Until in a pinch I had to drive the car again - nothing I thought it might be was likely to destroy the car in such a short period of time so i took the gamble. Oops. on the highway the car turns off - well, I lost power pretty fast then all the dash lights came on like a stall and the engine was off. Pull over. Car still has power, but, as far as I remember (this was weeks ago) turning the key made nothing happen. Pop the hood and there’s a tiny bit smoke coming from each of the 4 spark plugs; that stops pretty fast but it was there.
At this point I’m thinking “Ok that settles it, it was the coil pack, it went to crap and on its way out took all the spark plugs with it. Better order new Coil Pack & wires (and when those arrive I’ll go to Autozone & get the right plugs & socket with which to change them).” I get the car towed and while I’m waiting I’m in the car using the electricity - all the electronics appear to be functioning correctly. I’ll stress that I can’t remember for certain, but I believe even at this point turning the key didn’t do a thing, but tension was high and that was weeks ago.
Fast forward through a winter storm, some stupidly long shipping times for parts, and here we are a few weeks later. I’ve got the coil pack & new cables and figure I’ll install those, try my luck, and when it doesn’t turn on I’ll go get the spark plugs and by then my problems should be solved. Wrong. Replaced Coil Pack and plug wires, put key in, turn it, and nothing. Took me 2 days to realize that the trunk light had been on for 2 weeks & drained the battery (tried open trunk after ice storm, it wouldn’t open, ice melted, trunk no longer weighed down raised a little triggering the light, but I’d forgotten. Ugh).
So, I figure we need a jump, then the car will at least have power and I can work out the rest from there. Get everything set up for a jump, I put the key in the ignition… nothing. Even while hooked up to the other [running] car I can’t get so much as an interior light to turn on, let alone the engine to turn over. I tried several times, the jumper cables are brand new, the alternator replaced within the year (and battery too), I check all the main fuses under the dash (skipped a few like windshield wipers) and check all the fuses under the hood. All appear to be intact (the 100A Main fuse in the engine compartment looked a tiny bit different from the others but the metal all appeared intact, no black residue or anything. Sadly, this is the only fuse in the car held in with a bolt. Didn’t know that, it was dark, tried pulling it out with pliers, and now it might be actually broken).
That’s it, that’s where I’m at now. I’m leaning towards a bad starter but I’m confused and just have no idea where to proceed from here. If it’s the starter does that explain not being able to draw any power from the battery even when it’s hooked up to a good one? Whether the jumper cables are plugged in or not the result is the same - turning the key does absolutely nothing. I really just need some ideas of where to turn now because I’m at a loss. A starter is something I can replace myself so if that’s the next step I don’t want to pay for a tow and then to have someone look at it and then say “yeah, replace the starter”. Could the coil pack have taken the starter with it on its way out without tripping a fuse? Was the problem never the coil pack in the first place?!
Sorry if this post is sloppy, I’m so tired and frustrated at this point I just don’t know what to do next! Thank you in advance for your input.