Last summer, I had a problem with the cooling system in my car. Coolant wasn’t being pumped around the system due to a faulty temperature sensor. That was fixed, but now, as winter approaches, I have a new problem to deal with.
On the long weekend, I got in my car to go somewhere. I put the key in the ignition and turned it. It went into the “accessories” position and then I turned it some more to get it start the engine. At this point, nothing happened. The starter motor appeared to click once but then nothing. Then all the accessories switched off. There were no dash lights, nor radio. The whole electrical system seemed dead. I turned the key again but this time there wasn’t even a click from the starter motor.
This really seemed to point towards a battery problem but I had nothing to test it with. I didn’t have a multimeter at home, the last one that I owned was gone more than a decade ago. It took me until Tuesday evening to get a cheap one from Canadian Tire. After I got it home, I was actually hoping to see a low voltage readout. Car batteries are relatively cheap and easy to replace. Out of all the things that can go wrong with a car, this wouldn’t be so bad.
To my initial dismay, the reading was 12.45V. I did readings again and again, and it continued to settle on that reading. Now, depending on what web sites you go on, 12.45V on your car battery can either mean the battery 75% charged and fine or 12.45V can mean it’s right at the lower boundary of being about to be not capable of starting your car.
It’s also possible that the battery terminals, either on the battery itself or on the connector cables are corroded enough to prevent a proper connection to be made. The solution would be to clean the corrosion off using water and baking soda. I can do this but I suspect my battery might be actually dead. I think this for several reasons. First, it’s been years since this battery has been replaced. Batteries don’t last indefinitely and they need to be replaced. Second, if you wait several hours, turning the key to the accessories position will actually power on the interior lights, dashboard, and the radio. If you turn the key to engage the starter motor, that will cause all the lights and radio to cut out again. As if the drain on the battery, from the starter, is too much.
I will attempt to clean and battery terminals and connectors but I have a suspicion that won’t be enough. I just hope I can get this fixed in a reasonable amount of time, with a reasonable amount of money.