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Problems With 96 Es Electrical Systems


KyleJ
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Hi everyone,

I am new to this forum, as I am a bit stuck on what to do. I own a 96 ES with 173k on it, that i've now had for just over 2 years. I have previously had the car in Cleveland until moving to Chicago last summer. I have never had any problems with the battery dying until this winter. The battery died in November from what I suspected was lack of use due to my lack of driving often and only making short trips around the city, not giving the alternator enough time to charge it back up. Regardless, I replaced the battery and had no problems until the snow came.

One day while making a short trip in the snow in december, the battery light started to come on and all the interior lights began to fade. After reaching my destination, I let the car idle for a couple minutes before shutting it off. The car then wouldn't start on it's own, and needed to be jumped. After driving around and charging it up, the battery acted fine for a couple of weeks, including long trips to and from Ohio for the Holidays. After being back in Chicago for a few days and the car acting fine, the car sat for 2 days in the snow before I went to start it, and the battery was stone cold dead. I tried to jump it with a friend's cherokee, however once the cables were hooked up, the cherokee's lights began to dim, and the battery gauge on the dash dropped.

This makes me think that the snow has something to do with the problems, and after the battery died died in december, the locks would continually click like they were unlocking themselves while i was driving, and the alarm went off on its own numerous times as the car would sit untouched.

All this makes me believe that there is some kind of short in a door switch that is sucking all the power out of the battery, but have no way of testing or fixing it. I took the battery out and charged it, but have yet to try and do anything with it since the snow has virtually not stopped for the last few weeks here along with all the cold and ice. I plan on trying to start it again on a dry day, but those have been few and far between.

If anyone has experienced anything similar, PLEASE let me know. Thanks.

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Kyle],

Electrical gremlins as you describe strongly suggest that your charging system is at fault, most likely the alternator. Once the engine is running, if the charging system is putting out less than 12 volts, all kinds of strange things happen to lights, turn signals, dash lights, on board electronics, etc. As well, this doesn't sufficiently charge the battery, its internal plates sulfate and you get a battery that develops a short or won't take and hold a full charge any more. In winter, particularly a cold one, batteries have a difficult enough time just doing their normal duty without the additional problem of being under charged added in. Get to an auto parts store that checks electrical systems for free (Pep Boys?) and you'll quickly determine what needs to be done to correct the situation. Remember, if a new alternator is too much money for your budget, an auto wrecker should have several used ones for less money. Be prepared to buy a new battery as well, as your old one may have bit the dust. Good Luck!

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I've checked the alternator and it came out fine. I didn't think it was that from the start, as I was having problems with the car dying while it would just sit there without running. In two days it went from completely fine and normal to stone cold dead. NO power coming from the battery. Like I said earlier, I think there is something shorting the system, possibly in the doors.

Any ideas??

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