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Old 1st September 2010, 15:46   #1
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Default Electricity's death dance in my car - and the story of an incompetent garage.

Hi all,

This was a pretty funny experience which I was going through the last 3 weeks.
It all started with a trip to Chicago to met my cousin.

Aug 7th 2007
Chicago IL,
Around Evening.

Car in subject 1999 Honda Accord , 2.4 4 cyl , 5MT around 115k miles on Odo.

Cousin:- We'll clean up the car- it looks so dirty

The car needed washing- it was only driven through drive in washing things. to remove the Michigan road salt on the surface and underbody. the interiors had all the junk from student life of 2 years and the dust ans the wrappers from the junk food. Since anyway my wife was coming within a month and I plan to keep this car - thought will go ahead and wash.

The A/c was shot in the car, e found that the A/c needed a refill and it was good to go.We started the washing on a happy note.


Never knew that I was going to regret that decision for quite sometime.


I agreed to wash, I was cleaning the interiors while my cousin was cleaning the Engine bay.necessary precautions were taken, air intake covered with plastic. the distributor and alternator were not covered which was a really stupid decision.


The wash went well. Everything was fine. The car started and idled nicely- no lights- nothing. Happy for doing a goood job we went went inside and watched TV for sometime.

Since i had yo join my new company on August 9th, my cousin told "Well we'll take a test ride how the car is after wash " and then things went downhill from there.

Lights slowly came up on the dash. Weird lights like the handbrake indicator, the door open indicator, airbag check light, alternator light. They used to come and go off. After going for around 10 miles the lights were steady. Turned hurriedly back home.

Suspected the alternator, Connected the voltmeter and saw a reading of 14V at idle and 17V at 3000 rpm.

I thought that was fine (that was not fine it should be 14 V throughout - came to know later), then somebody came with the bright idea of disconnecting the battery while the car is running to find out whether the alternator is fine or not.

THE WORST DECISION OF THE DAY.

We did it. And later we stumbled on this link.

Don't Disconnect the Battery with the Engine Running

As told in the link, the alternator put out 100's of volts.

And I'm supposed to be in Columbus, IN the day after - to join my new job,

I'm stuck 260 miles from my work location in a car with dead electricals, nothing when I turn the key, Not even a click.

To be continued
{coming next - Rental car issues
Idiot garage in Chicago - who charges more than dealer and doesn't fix issues
Overheating due to blown electricals
Driving 260 miles with blown alternator
Honda dealer diagnosis}

Last edited by Jomz : 1st September 2010 at 16:04.
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Old 1st September 2010, 15:59   #2
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Something like that happened to my car.
A battery terminal was loose [which i didn't know at the time].
Was driving around & clutched while going over a bump.
Shortly after i depressed the clutch, all electricals failed [headlights, ignition, stereo].
But as soon as i released the clutch everything came back to life.
Was on a bad patch of road, so i drove for a couple of minutes.
Stopped on the side and shut off everything.
All electricals failed again and the car refused to start. [Not like a weak battery, but no battery.]

Popped the hood and the battery terminal was completely off the battery.
It wasn't even touching the terminal. [don't remember which one though]

Reconnected it and everything came back to life again.

This happened over a year ago, no problems / after effects yet.

Lucky me i guess.
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Old 1st September 2010, 19:09   #3
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Hmm I suppose the newer cars have acircuit which detects whether the battery is present. If the battery is not there - it shuts down the system.

A requirement, since never knew that it it would cause extensive damage.
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Old 1st September 2010, 19:16   #4
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Post deleted by the Team-BHP Support : Please do NOT post one-liners that add little or no informational value to the thread. We need your co-operation to maintain the overall quality of this forum.

Please read our rules before proceeding any further.

Last edited by GTO : 2nd September 2010 at 10:38.
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Old 1st September 2010, 19:56   #5
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The second we pulled the wires from the battery we knew something really bad had happened. The headlights came on by itself. The power windows rolled down. The wipers came on at full speed. The car rpms dropped suddenly. And then everything went black.

It was straight from a scary movie.

Later came to know that the power came into the electrical system through the negative cable and energized most of the relays. don't have a clue how.

That was one of the lowest moments-- had to search for an year to find a job. And the day before joining I'm stuck 260 miles away from the location with a dead car.
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Old 1st September 2010, 20:25   #6
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Jomz, post now, will ya? Don't leave us hanging there. Get on with the story quick.
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Old 1st September 2010, 20:32   #7
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On my cousin's recommendation droppped the car off in the garage which would take care of the issues on Monday.

Rented a car from "Advantage" since they were the only guy open on sunday. $80 per day. 4 days. i thought They'll fix everything within 4 days.

Drove the car to Indianapolis. On the indiana-illinois border took a wrong exit and went into a construction zone. Car hot a pothole (Yes there are in the US), bent a rim and lost pressure in one tyre.

I'm in a construction zone, 9pm in the night on Sunday- blew a tyre.

Called up the roadside assitance was on hold for 1 hour- still nobody picked it up.

Finally called up my insurance company AAA, and they agreed to come and change the tyre.

Meanwhile saw the nicest cop ever. He came asked what the problem was, took the jack and proceeded to change the tyre himself. I told him Insurance is coming, but he told-- the faster I get you on the interstate the lesser chances I have , for a missing person case or something.

And then he told the most loveliest words which I ever heard.

"I'm here to serve and protect, And I do really mean it"

I was like WOW.

The moment he toched the spanner to the tyre, AAA guys turn up and they told the officer - they'll take from there.

Officer stays with the job and escorts me to the interstate and points me in the right direction.

A police officer whom I would call with respect an "officer".

Meanwhile I was still on hold with advantage roadside assistance.
advantage is the cheaper cousin of Hertz - FYI.

The small spare tyre has a speed rating of 50 Mph. The officer told at the next truck stop , there are guys who might fix the tyres and they are open 24 hours/7days a week. He suggested that i might get a ticket if i keep speed limits (70mph on the interstate) with that spare - so if possible get it changed. And tell the state police your situation when they pull you over. They might let you go.

The truck stop guys fixed the rim within 4 minutes and I was ready to roll at 80mph. and they didn't charge anything- ofcourse they did not balance the tyre.

Who cares - that is a rental Kia Optima.

Atleast I can join the job. The Honda saga is just about to start.

Last edited by Jomz : 1st September 2010 at 20:34.
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Old 1st September 2010, 20:49   #8
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August 9th. Monday morning 5am.

I reach Columbus, IN where I'm supposed to work.
Reported to work bleary eyed at 8am- but still happy that I have a job.

Gets a call by around noon- tellling that the garage in Chicago needs $275 for diagnosis. I Approved payment.

They say 4 things are blown, The idle air control motor, the main fuel pump relay, driver side window motor and the alternator. Replacing all these would make my car good as before wash.

The cost around $1700.!!!

I got the quote in email- checked the parts prices online- every part is quoted by atleast 100% extra. and labor rates are $93.5 . Later when I checked HASS service rates It was $87.5

And i was sure that the window motor was working... I can hear it groan. I didn't trust that guys diagnosis.

Last edited by Jomz : 1st September 2010 at 20:57.
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Old 1st September 2010, 20:55   #9
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jomz new job and obviously should be paying you better, so why bother about the bills. BTW what was the outcome, we know you got conned but was the car back in running condition(pun intended) ?

Quote:
"I'm here to serve and protect, And I do really mean it"
One of the best lines I have read in the recent times. Good show by the officer.
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Old 1st September 2010, 21:06   #10
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Well, I called up the Chicago garage and told him, just do enough work on it for the car to run. And use NAPA parts. (NAPA sells parts cheaper than OEM by atleast 50%)

He replaced- He told stuck window and there is the Airbag light. Otherwise the honda can run.

Bill $1100

aug 12th 5pm.

Dropped the rental back. Picked up the Accord. started it and something is not right. The HVAC panel is dead. Well fine - i can live without A/c, went back to my cousin's place preparing for the long drive to Indiana. Then for our horror we realize that there are no brake lights.

Brake lights are a safety issue- you don't dare drive on the highway without 'em

Well. I told the first friday I have to go back to the garage- called up my boss and asked for 1 day leave.

Meanwhile the car was left running. When I came back after the call I realize that the car is overheating- temp gauge almost nearby red- because , the radiator fans are not working!!!!!

And the garage told me that it was a safe car to drive ~300miles.

So much for diagnosis, and i thought this kind of stuff happens only in India.

I ask my cousin is there a lawyer nearby, I would take this in India, but after spending 1/4th of the car's price and being in US- No way. I'm going after them.
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Old 1st September 2010, 21:38   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jomz View Post
Aug 7th 2007

...cleaning the Engine bay.
One very eye-catching thread title there, Jomz - it's the title that made me drop by. You're describing a 3-year-old event? And how did your cousin go about cleaning the engine? Took a hosepipe to it and gave it a royal bath?
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Old 1st September 2010, 22:00   #12
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oops that was supposed to be 2010.

exactly. that was how the engine bay was cleaned
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Old 1st September 2010, 22:13   #13
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Well written. I never knew that the batt should not be disconnected with the car running. I have heard there are similar issues if the ICE in the car has a capacitor.
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Old 1st September 2010, 22:21   #14
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There is still more to come.

Including

How the garage in Chicago avoided the court case and
The Honda dealer in Indianapolis saving the car.
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Old 1st September 2010, 22:31   #15
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You better tell your wife (as and when she graces the clean Accord) all the trouble you went through so that she could sit in a clean car

$1500 already spent on a 10 year old Accord. How much does a service station wash in US cost anyway? Not the drive through wash but a proper interior vaccum and exterior wash.

Last edited by Cesc : 1st September 2010 at 22:33.
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