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Car won't start but battery reads 13 Volts w/green indicator

Car had the hood replaced 3 days ago from a woman who backed into me. Drove fine for 3 days so I don't think that is connected - just background info. Stopped at a friends last night on way home from a funeral and as I was leaving 15 mins later - I decided I should check the oil (as I had a voice saying I hadn't checked it in a while and I know I burn a little). Sure enough it needed a little so I added some. My friend remarked that my brake fluid looked low. It was getting late and the lighting was not very good - but it did look like the shadow from the fluid inside was below the "min" mark and since he had some DOT4 brake fluid - we decided to "top it up". Turned out it was a false shadow - and the brake fluid was fine and we "overfilled" the brake fluid resevoir above the screen. So we "sopped up the excess" as best as we could with some rags - but it is still just above the screen and thus right at the Max level. I don't think either of these things could have anything to do with the issue - but I provide them as background just in case. I go to start the car- and it won't turn over. Doesn't even click. We think? Did we bump or disconnect something? We check everything and its all fine. So I think - maybe the battery just died - even though I'd had no indication. So he brings out his "Costco PowerStation" charger and starter and we hook it up to the battery. Note while we do that, we check the little indicator window on the battery with a flashlight (it is now 10:PM and quite dark out) and the indicator reads "green" Car still won't start, although now it is getting enough juice to at least "click" the starter motor - but not turn it over. The top was down and I wanted to close it - but there was not enough power to do this without having the "Powerstation" charger unit (essentially a spare battery) turned "on". We think - maybe we just need "more" juice than the powerstation can provide - so we hook up some super heavy duty jumper cables (my friend has all the toys one can imagine in his garage) and connect them to his truck with the engine running and rev it up. Still nothing but a lot of clicking and dimming of the dashboard indicator (idiot) lights. We are stumped, its dark and the misquitoes are going nuts so we give up for the night. This morning his is is the status (now that I can see).
Tried to start it on its own - (hope springs eternal) and nothing.
Hooked up the powerstation and with it in the "off" position -checked the BMW battery in my car and it reads fully charged at 13 volts.
There is enough juice that with the trunk light is on - but it does get brighter when we turn "on" the Powerstation provding the extra battery source.
With the powerstation off - when I turn on the headlights - they are extremely dim - and everything in the dashboard goes dim.
With the key on - after the initial flash of all the dashboard indicator lights - the Battery and Oil lights stay on. I also hear a little electric motor in the engine compartment that is on the right side behind the shock strut housing covered by a plastic cover. Not sure what it is but it is humming. The other indicator lights that stay on are the "Service engine soon' indicator (I am in the last green bar of the graph below the odometer - just before it goes yellow - but I have am not late in the service interval - it is just a warning to service it soon). Interestingly, after a few moments - another idiotl light comes on - the one indicating that the air bag has deployed - which it obviously had not. BTW - the woman who backed into me when I was parked did so very slowly so there was no deployment of the airbag at that time, and the front fendor was not replaced (the hood was because it got torqued) it was just repainted - I don't know if they removed it and didn't hook something up right - but the airbag light had NOT been on for the several days I had the car after picking it up.
The electric clock is still keeping time - but the radio display now reads "Code - - - - -" and of course I have no idea what the code reset it.
When I try to start the car on its own - it "clicks" for a while and then literally doesn't have enough juice to do that. Yet the battery still reads 13V on the powerstation reader with the powerstation in the off mode. When I turn "on" the powerstation - there is enough juice to keep the "clicking" going on the starter motor - but nothing beyond that- with each click of course all the dash indicator lights sharply dim. Note - I'm writing this "real time" live with my laptop on my roof as I do each step. I'm noticing now that the airbag indicator light is no longer lit up - but the powerstation is still on. So I'll turn it off and see what happens.
OK - turned off power station and without turning the key off - and now the airbag light came back on, along with several more idiot lights momentarily (the ABS and the Triangle in the middle) but those went out after a few moments - but airbag light is still on.
When I turn the Powerstation back on to provide extra juice to my battery - then the airbag light goes out - but the oil and battery indicator lights stay on. Not sure what else I can share of value. Any ideas?
When I turn "on" the Powerstation- providing it a spare battery -

Posted by on

  • kbattie Jul 11, 2009

    Hi Mark,

    It turned out to be a bad battery. I bought a new one and everything is fine now. The battery was the original so it was 8 years old. Guess I can't complain about it -but it did blow a day messing around with it. Thanks for responding. Cheers! Ken

  • mark brown
    mark brown May 11, 2010

    Hi , just out of interest have you changed the battery , even though it is showing 13 volts , it may have an internal fault and may not have the amperage to crank the engine, it may be worth swapping the battery with a known good one to elliminate this potential fault , regards mark

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