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Old 04-15-2011, 06:40 AM   #1
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


1) ('04 Audi) So I'm getting all sorts of warning lights, and a car that keeps dying along with it. I've boosted the car with one of those portable boosters. If this gives you any clues as to the problem: The car starts with the booster attached to battery no prob and remains on, but once I remove the booster cables the car just dies back down completely. The negative side terminal looks somewhat rusted/corroded around where it connects to the battery. Does it make sense that cleaning that terminal would solve the problem or doesn't sound like that?

2) So I have general instructions to clean the terminals with baking powder, water, brush. However I'm always nervous around all things electrical. Can someone explain to me why I shouldn't be nervous touching around there, or what precautions to take while cleaning the terminals/battery to not get electrocuted .

Thanks .

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Old 04-15-2011, 08:48 AM   #2
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


It sounds like the battery cable ends need it, so yes, I would definitely clean them, but it also sounds like the battery is bad. I would remove the battery from the vehicle, take it to the local auto parts store or dealer, and tell them that you want it loaded tested; this is the only way to tell if th battery is bad, so no need to waste your time with a volt meter or anything else. Disconnect the negative battey cable first, and tuck the end of it back so that it will not come in contact with the negative terminal on the battery, then do likewise with the positive end. When you are ready to restore power, after the battery has been bolted back in place, connect the positive terminal first, then the negative terminal. Whenever the negative cable is connected to the negative terminal of the battery, do not allow a wrench or anything else make contact between the positive terminal of the battery and any other part of the vehicle, nor with the the negative terminal of the battery, and you should be fine.


Last edited by DexterII; 04-15-2011 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:57 AM   #3
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


I'd put the battery on a charger.

If it charges ok, then I'd be looking at the alternator.

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Old 04-15-2011, 09:10 AM   #4
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


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Originally Posted by 99altrade View Post
1) ('04 Audi) So I'm getting all sorts of warning lights, and a car that keeps dying along with it. I've boosted the car with one of those portable boosters. If this gives you any clues as to the problem: The car starts with the booster attached to battery no prob and remains on, but once I remove the booster cables the car just dies back down completely. The negative side terminal looks somewhat rusted/corroded around where it connects to the battery. Does it make sense that cleaning that terminal would solve the problem or doesn't sound like that?

2) So I have general instructions to clean the terminals with baking powder, water, brush. However I'm always nervous around all things electrical. Can someone explain to me why I shouldn't be nervous touching around there, or what precautions to take while cleaning the terminals/battery to not get electrocuted .

Thanks .
First of all, a 12-volt car battery never electrocuted anybody. You can relax, though you'll always want to err on the side of safety.

That said, I'm going to guess - with almost absolute certainty - that it's just time to replace your battery. If the car won't run that long, pull the battery and take it to your local auto parts store. Have them test the battery. You'll probably need a new one. So leave your old core there, bring the new battery home, and you're good to go.

If you want to clean your battery cable ends, remove them from the battery, and stick them in a cup of Coke while you're at the parts store. (When I say "Coke" I'm referring to the stuff that comes in a red can and you DRINK. )


Good luck!
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Old 04-15-2011, 09:30 AM   #5
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


Thanks for all the replies.

So first, to those who suggested that it might be time to replace the battery. I got this new battery around 10 months ago. It's still possible that it needs to be replaced given that?

Regarding the 12v electrocuting, just have never done anything relating to car battery's other than jumping cars, and am not familiar with electrical....it's a bit scary battery! lol

To someone who asked, yes it takes a charge in that I attach booster cables to battery and power other end. I am then able to start the dead car, and it remains on until I remove booster cables at which point it just dies. Is it still possible alternator or does that mean dead battery?

Thanks again guys.
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Old 04-15-2011, 09:39 AM   #6
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


Sure sounds like a dead battery to me then. If the battery were any good, it'd stay running, right?


Take it to the store as suggested by DexterII.

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Old 04-15-2011, 09:46 AM   #7
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


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Originally Posted by 99altrade View Post
Thanks for all the replies.

So first, to those who suggested that it might be time to replace the battery. I got this new battery around 10 months ago. It's still possible that it needs to be replaced given that?

Regarding the 12v electrocuting, just have never done anything relating to car battery's other than jumping cars, and am not familiar with electrical....it's a bit scary battery! lol

To someone who asked, yes it takes a charge in that I attach booster cables to battery and power other end. I am then able to start the dead car, and it remains on until I remove booster cables at which point it just dies. Is it still possible alternator or does that mean dead battery?

Thanks again guys.
If the car dies immediately after you pull the cables, you've got a battery problem. It's possible that the terminals are corroded, but they probably wouldn't cause that problem. It takes very little electricity to run a car, once it's started.

Take the battery back to where you got it. Yes, it entirely possible for a battery to punk out within a year. It's a fluke, and shouldn't happen, but once in awhile it does. Hopefully they'll replace it for free (assuming you have the receipt). If not for free, they certainly should pro-rate the cost of a replacement.


If that doesn't work, you're always welcome to just GIVE the car to me. I think I could get by with it.
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Old 04-15-2011, 10:08 AM   #8
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


If it's relevant, and adds clues, prior to not starting at all it was drivable. This all started with electronic power control (epc) + engine light, and car would suddenly lose power while driving, luckily able to pull over while still rolling. Happened couple times during a roundabout and back home, then once in driveway it wouldn't start again.

Oh, and ye, I'm certain you could get by with it! It's an amazing car (besides for this issue - '04 Audi S4. 350hp + quattro for winter. Monster in great condition otherwise.

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Originally Posted by DrHicks View Post
If the car dies immediately after you pull the cables, you've got a battery problem. It's possible that the terminals are corroded, but they probably wouldn't cause that problem. It takes very little electricity to run a car, once it's started.

Take the battery back to where you got it. Yes, it entirely possible for a battery to punk out within a year. It's a fluke, and shouldn't happen, but once in awhile it does. Hopefully they'll replace it for free (assuming you have the receipt). If not for free, they certainly should pro-rate the cost of a replacement.

If that doesn't work, you're always welcome to just GIVE the car to me. I think I could get by with it.
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Old 04-15-2011, 10:31 AM   #9
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


Quote:
Originally Posted by 99altrade View Post
If it's relevant, and adds clues, prior to not starting at all it was drivable. This all started with electronic power control (epc) + engine light, and car would suddenly lose power while driving, luckily able to pull over while still rolling. Happened couple times during a roundabout and back home, then once in driveway it wouldn't start again.

Oh, and ye, I'm certain you could get by with it! It's an amazing car (besides for this issue - '04 Audi S4. 350hp + quattro for winter. Monster in great condition otherwise.
Okay... Forget this whole battery issue. I'm coming over with the tow dolly!


Seriously though, it sounds to me like a battery issue. Once in a great while one of the "plates" in the battery will break & cause erratic power changes. Sometimes a battery just dies. Not often, but it does happen.

Here's hoping your problem is just the battery, and you're back in business!

Last edited by DrHicks; 04-15-2011 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 04-15-2011, 10:36 AM   #10
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


Alrighty then. Thanks for the replies guys, and Doc. Once I find some time I will try some of this advice, and will report back.
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:16 AM   #11
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


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=DrHicks;629880]First of all, a 12-volt car battery never electrocuted anybody. You can relax, though you'll always want to err on the side of safety.
electricuted/ no but I do know a guy that lost a finger from shorting out his wedding ring (with the help of a wrench) from the hot terminal to a ground.

I would clean the terminals first. (and that means removing the cables from the battery and cleaning the battery terminal and the cable end) If there is enough corrosion, your battery could be absolutely fine but due to the poor connection, it cannot transfer power from it or receive it from the charging system. If this is the original battery is may very well be bad though. If it has been replaced before, I wouldn't jump to that conclusion.

so, clean the terminals. If you have a charger, charge the battery. Then see what happens. If you don't have a charger, use the jumper device and see what happens when you remove it.
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Old 04-17-2011, 12:55 AM   #12
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


I'd clean up the cable ends and then put the battery on a slow charger overnight. Today's alternators don't last too long when used for charging dead batteries.
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:09 AM   #13
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I'd clean up the cable ends and then put the battery on a slow charger overnight. Today's alternators don't last too long when used for charging dead batteries.
that is a very good point. The last couple of alternators I have replaced said, very clearly, do not install them with a discharged battery as it will overheat the alternator. It voided the warranty. Not sure how they would actually know but the point is, apparently it has been enough of a problem they say not to do it.
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:31 AM   #14
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Cleaning Battery Terminals - Car Dies


Could very well be the alternator. Once a car is started, the alternator will provide enough power to run it even with a dead battery. Haven't tried with newer vehicles, but in the past I have removed a good battery while a car was running and replaced it with one that was discharged and the vehicle kept running even while there was no battery in it.
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Old 04-17-2011, 12:00 PM   #15
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Could very well be the alternator. Once a car is started, the alternator will provide enough power to run it even with a dead battery. Haven't tried with newer vehicles, but in the past I have removed a good battery while a car was running and replaced it with one that was discharged and the vehicle kept running even while there was no battery in it.
don't do that with newer cars. You can cause damage to electronics in the car.

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