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Why won't my car start?

(1999 Ford Escort)
on January 22, 2018
99 Ford Escort ZX2. Having an issue getting my car to start. Drove home from work a couple weeks ago, and then tried to go to the gym minutes later, and the car wouldn't turn. No power locks, no lighting, and no ignition, even if I connect a jump box, or even leave it connected. I've tested the battery and alternator, and they told me the battery was fine and the alternator is ok except for bad diodes, which they claimed could drain the battery, but that seems like the jump box should work in that case.

I replaced the battery terminals a few months ago when something similar happened, and cleaned the wiring of rust to get them to work, but it did work. Since then, I had the issue once, but just scrubbed the terminals with aluminum foil and they worked without a jump. That didn't work this time, and I went back and did it with vinegar to no avail. When I disconnect/reconnect the terminals, I get power locks, but the car cranks once and shuts off completely (no power locks). Thank you
What seems to make the problem better or worse? Unconnecting and reconnecting terminals.
How long have you had this problem? Potentially Several Months
Tags: electric, battery, terminal, alternator, power locks, ford, escort
Displaying 3 answers & 4 comments
Popular Answer
on January 22, 2018
The worst thing ever installed on any vehicle is an *emergency battery terminal end* .. For some reason people think it is a permanent repair - FAR FROM IT!

A good replacement terminal end will cost about $8.00 + and will be made of a quality material such as bronze - NOT LEAD .. The cable attachment will utilize a compression sleeve - will need to be crimped or better yet SOLDERED onto the cable.

Even using a jumper - if the cable itself is not making a good connection with the terminal end - the result is still no battery power.
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on January 22, 2018
Have ALL *testing* performed by qualified personnel - with the vehicle present - even if it cost a little more .. What might test ok by a parts store salesperson (?) certainly might not work while installed on the vehicle - then the “qualified personnel” will still be needed!

(Usually - Parts store testing adds up to wasted time, plus a trip to & from the test facility)

‘Just some’ of the things I have encountered in 44 years of auto repair.

on January 23, 2018
Thanks for the replies guys. When I replaced the terminals a few months ago, I cut off the ends of the wiring to get rid of some of the rust, and then reattached them to a new terminal. The old ones looked a little worn to me, so I got some new ones from Auto zone. I cut the ends off the wire, shaved some of the rubber insulation around the ends, twisted them a little bit, and then used bolts to press them down and connect them to a terminal. It's very possible I didn't do something correctly, so that might be my problem.
on January 23, 2018
I'll keep that in mind from now on, thank you.
on January 23, 2018
Another important note: if you replaced battery terminal ends due to corrosion, it is very likely the corrosion that you once saw continues inside the insulation of the battery cable. If this is the case, replacing just the terminal ends will not solve your issue. Replacing the entire cable may be required. Just another thought to consider.
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on January 22, 2018
When you went to the gym and it didn't start, was that it? Did you have to get it towed? Did it eventually start? How did they check the alternator without it running? Did you remove the alternator and have it bench tested?

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on January 23, 2018
Going to the gym was the latest occurrence of that problem and it hasn't run since. A few weeks earlier, I had a similar problem, but I was able to get the car to start after scrubbing the inside of the terminals out with some crinkled up aluminum foil, and I immediately took it to auto zone to get the alternator tested while the car was running. They said the alternator was fine except a few of the diodes were out, and that could be draining the battery if the car was inactive long enough.
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