Hello dear reader(s)!
Yesterday evening, I left my house to go up North a little bit to visit Hannah’s mom, drop some things off to her, and to then go to game night with my friends. Traffic was unusually easy for that time of day. At only one point did I encounter anyone driving like an idiot (55 in a 70 in the left lane, where everyone goes 79), but I quickly jumped on it into a nice size gap to get around him. Easy, right?
Well…not so much. Even though the Beastess is powerful and wonderful and passed this guy with ease, in doing so, my check engine light came on. I started freaking out. All of my gauges looked fine, so I just cruised at speed until I could get off the freeway and stop at Hannah’s mom’s. Once I did, I opened the hood, wiggled the battery cables a bit (but not the terminals) and took off the air cleaner so I could spray in some cleaner. I also checked the oil and saw I was close to a quart low, but that usually wouldn’t be bad enough to put the light on. The coolant level was fine. I really wasn’t sure what was wrong.
After visiting with Hannah’s mom for a bit and dropping some of her things off to her, I went back out to start my beloved Beastess and found the check engine light was off. It fired up just fine and I drove to get a quart of oil. After putting it in, I fired the Beastess back up (it seemed fine) and headed off to my friends’ house for game night. Everything was cool until I shut off the car and was unable to get the doors to lock with my power switch. Not worried about it, I just manually locked the door and went up to the house to play games.
Game night was fun, and I actually did okay at Ladder Ball this time even though my team barely lost the first game (1 point) and got blown out in the second. It went a little later than usual, so at about 10:15 I left to go home. And that is when I tried unlocking the door.
Now, on the Beastess, in order to shut off the security system, you can either use the remote (broken, and I have no replacement), or you can manually unlock the driver’s side door with the key. Being that I had no remote, I chose the key method. I turned it, and no lights came on, except for dim flashing from the security system. Do you ever have that moment where your heart just drops down your throat? This was that moment. I put the key in, no dings. Tried to turn it over, not even a click. The security warned me it was active, dimly. I tried to shut it off with the key turn. Nothing. I tried again. Nothing. Then it stopped.
I went under the hood to wiggle the cables again. Nothing. I started banging around on the door panel. Finally, a light came on and I was able to turn off the security system. But when I tried to start it…nothing.
It was too dark to take off the whole door panel, but because of this I was convinced it was a short in the wiring around the lock. Maybe that circuit also shared the check engine light. Head down in defeat, I went back up to the house to ask for a jumpstart since it seemed like I got the security off. After a short time on my friend’s battery, the Beastess ran again. Happily, I drove home. Halfway there, the check engine light came on again. I made it home, and tried to run it with the lights off to charge up the battery a bit before I shut it down. After a few minutes, I shut if off and went to lock the doors. Nothing. I tried playing with the door panel again, but could not get the electronic lock to work. So I manually locked it and decided to take off the door panel when I woke up and it was light again.
The car didn’t start again in the morning, as expected. After doing so, I couldn’t even get the wire harnesses loose. I decided to call my dad to see if he could help. I also asked him to bring a volt meter and a test light.
He came over and we messed with one of the wiring harnesses. He jumpstarted the car. We secured it even tighter with electrical tape and tried it while the car was running. It worked! While we were doing that, I took his test light and notice two fuses appeared burnt out. I left the Beastess running for the battery to charge, while he ran to the auto parts store to get fuses. There are two kinds of fuse with that voltage, so he asked me on the phone to pull one and tell him which one it is. I pulled one that did not light up, and then the car shut off. I replaced the fuse and tried to start it again. Nothing.
He got back and jumpstarted the car again and we decided to let it run for about a half hour to charge it really good. If it didn’t start again after that, we could bet the battery was likely fried from all the times it had been drained. I looked up the costs of a new battery while it was running. The time went by, and I shut off the car. Moment of truth, would I need a new battery?
My dad takes his battery tester and puts it against the terminals while the car is off and it is barely registering. It appears the battery is gone. But just before he began to take it out, his probe slipped from the terminal clamp to the post, and the meter spiked. There was battery after all. And now, after all of that, we finally figured out the problem. We had recently changed out the terminals, and it appears the positive side was simply not tight enough. Likely the whole issue. The fuses were testing again, and I have started, ran it, shut it off, and started again. Doors locked and all.
All that because we didn’t tighten down the battery terminal enough. It must have just been shaken loose and was barely making a connection at all when it did.
Oh well, on the one hand, a lot of work and time was wasted, but on the other, at least I don’t need a new battery or to trace shorts in circuits throughout the car. Especially with my Alaska trip booked, I didn’t want to buy a new battery.