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Thread: Mysterious vehicle fault

  1. #1 Mysterious vehicle fault 
    The Doctor Quantime's Avatar
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    Recently my car has refused to start at times. I have been left stranded at work several times, yet the problem seems to be alive, choosing times when I need the car the most. I have to call on the person who knows the most about cars, and my father being a fleet car salesman for 25 odd years, he seems the best I know.

    We looked at the car and are able to start the car with jump leads from his car to my battery. Now the battery itself has power in it, because at first we thought the car would not start because the battery did not have sufficient power. However the battery has power in it to run headlights, dash and electronic windows; all the usual things. Without being jump started.

    After my father jump lead from his car starting mine or me now on using my starter pack, it will start around four or five times without any external assistence, however it takes longer each time to start afterwards. Eventually it refuses to start, and thus the starter pack is needed again.

    First of all we have analysed three possible causes:

    1: The battery is knackered. (Which cannot be so because it runs and has power regularly in it).

    2: The starter motor. (Which isn't possible because the engine starts regardless of the jump pack or on its own oomph.

    3: The alternator. (I recently have had problems with this. I had to have a new one about 7 months ago. Since then it made squeaking noise, (the fan belt) that was fixed). This seems the most probable cause. The battery might not be being charged.

    My father has suggested that it might be an earthing problem with the circuitry in the ignition process. I don't know if this is the case but one variable that stops the car working most than others is this:

    Stalling. I recently pulled into work and left the car in gear (it was on a hill) and I took my foot off the clutch. And then she stalled, of course. Since then she didn't want to start. We had to jump start her again. Now (other than when its cold) she will start. Any ideas?

    PS My car is a ROVER 214SLi. 1.4 Litre 16 Valve. M Plate.

    Thanks.


    "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe". - Carl Sagan
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  3. #2  
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    Start with the simple things first. Take the battery terminals off, clean them with baking soda solution, and put them back together, making a good, tight connection.

    If that doesn't work, my next guess would be a weak battery. You could have it tested by a mechanic.

    If not that, it's probably your alternator.


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  4. #3  
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    The fact that the battery runs the lights is no indication that it is any good.
    If the contacts are good (see Harold's reply above) then you might find the alternator is duff, if it is not properly charging the battery it will behave as you describe. It is almost certain the battery is now duff even it it was not when the prolems started, once the battery voltage falls below about 10.8 volts then the lead eletrodes decay (by oxidisation I think). You could therefore be faced with having to change both!

    If you have a voltmeter check the battery voltage (after the car has been standing idle overnight), then start the car and, with the engine idling the voltage should rise from about 12.6 to 14.5 volts. Try this test on another car to get an idea of the sort of voltages you should see.
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  5. #4  
    The Doctor Quantime's Avatar
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    Thanks guys I'll look into that. Looks like getting my hands dirty tommorow.
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