Question about Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera

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Elecrical shut down, no: int lights, head lts. dash lts. horn. ign ,

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  • bruce marconett Apr 07, 2011

    battery appeared to 'pull' a charge on a 10a charger down to ~2.5 amps. is there a master circuit breaker. The interior light doesn't even glow, or door locks actuate. this was only ~1.5 hrs. after having been driven.

  • bruce marconett Apr 07, 2011

    terminals are tight, side terminals, no visable corrosion, charger was on correctly, (not my first rodeo)

  • bruce marconett Apr 07, 2011

    Thanks for your help.

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The most common cause for this problem is a bad connection to the battery. To check this, you should follow some basic safety precautions, and if you are not comfortable in doing it yourself, get a friend or family member familiar with working on cars to help. You should at minimum wear safety glasses when working around a car battery. You will need a battery post cleaning tool, available at any auto parts store for 2-3 dollars. You should also wear gloves, since the stuff that you will be cleaning off is corrosive, and can irritate your skin. A solution of baking soda and water will neutralize any acid that you come in contact with, so it is a good idea to have some nearby.
First, find the right size tools to remove the battery connections. Take off the negative (the black cable) first, being careful to not let your tools or the cable touch the positive (red) terminal or cable.
Next, remove the positive (red) cable. Use care to not let your tools touch anything else. Use the battery post cleaning tool to clean the posts of your battery, and then remove the cap from the other end of the tool, exposing a tree-shaped brush. Use this to clean the insides of the cable terminals. Once everything is cleaned, reattach the cables, positive (red) first, then negative (black). Make sure to get them good and tight.
If your battery still has a good charge in it, everything should be OK now. If your car still has the same problem, your battery has either lost its charge due to the bad connection, or it is dead and you need to replace it. The easiest way to find out at home without going to a shop is to try and charge the battery. If after charging you still have the same problem, you will need to replace your battery. A car battery will typically last about 3-6 years, depending on the "grade" of the battery, and how the car is driven. If your battery is over 6 years old, you should replace it, even if it seems OK, because it will probably fail at the worst possible time, either in extreme heat or extreme cold.
Good luck, and Thank You for using FixYa!

Posted on Apr 07, 2011

  • Victor Albright Apr 07, 2011

    A 2.5A charge rate is not unusual. That seems to indicate that your battery is in good condition.

    There is no "master" circuit breaker on any car that I am aware of. Follow the red wire from your battery and you will see that it will connect first at the starter solenoid.You can check the main fuses under the hood and the aux fuses in the passenger compartment, but most often this many failures is due to a bad connection at the battery. Headlights are always on their own circuit, with a large fuse under the hood in the mains fuse panel supplying power. Interior lights and door locks are powered through the aux fuse panel in the passenger compartment.

    A bad battery connection can cause a sudden, unexpected power failure and is still the most likely cause. The only other cause that I am aware of is if you were given a "bad jump" with the jumper cables reversed, which will cause a severe electrical failure, probably damaging both vehicles. This can cause your alternator diodes to short out, resulting in a problem like that which you are describing. When that happens, you would notice right away that your battery terminals and/or wires are hot to the touch. If that is the case, you need to disconnect your battery right away, but since you said that the charger is only drawing 2.5 amps, I do not think that this is your problem.

  • Victor Albright Apr 07, 2011

    Gotcha. I advise that you take them off and clean them up anyway, it has happened to me before- even though you think they look good, they are not. I actually had to cut the cable terminals off on my current car (2001 Jeep) and put new ones on because everything kept cutting out on me- The juice just could not get from the battery to the engine. Side terminals are the worst- my '79 Cutlass had them and I had so many problems that I changed the cables and went to top terminals.

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