Help assuage my concerns about my little old car!
November 12, 2012 11:19 AM Subscribe
Please help me determine what happened to my car recently - was it the battery, the alternator, or something else?
posted by schmoo to travel & transportation (12 answers total)
A week ago I was driving to work and everything was fine as normal. I had been driving for about five minutes with the heaters, radio, lights etc on.
Suddenly, with no warning (no gradual loss of power, no warning lights) the car lost power totally and utterly. Everything went off, and I couldn't even put the hazard lights on. Attempts to restart the car were unsuccessful, and the radio and lights etc didn't work either.
My husband arranged for it to be towed to a local garage, but not our normal one.
The garage said that the problem was the battery. We had noticed previously that there was quite a bit of corrosion on top of the terminals - what looked like set frothy green stuff - but we'd stupidly neglected to get it checked. My husband thinks that the garage explained that the corrosion was making the battery unable to connect to whatever it connects to (as you can tell, I am incredibly clueless about cars, as is my husband!), and this was what caused the breakdown. They fitted a brand new battery and since having this fitted the car has run fine.
However I am concerned because everyone I have told has said that it sounds much more like the alternator dying than the battery, and people have said that batteries just don't 'die' like that once you've got going - that if it was a battery problem you'd simply be unable to start the car. I am really worried that the garage have not fixed the actual problem, and that if it is a faulty alternator the same thing will happen again. I was lucky it happened when I was only travelling at about 10mph, coming up to some lights - I'm terrified it will happen again when I'm on the motorway or something.
My husband is reluctant to ring up the garage and clarify exactly what the problem was because they did it sort of as a favour because they know his dad. He is also happy to accept their explanation and not anyway near as concerned as I. If I need to we will take it to our local garage to be checked out, but we've already spent £300 on the car recently and I can't afford it unless it's absolutely necessary!
So, if you have any car expertise at all, please could you advise me - does it sound like the battery was the problem and I'm ok and worrying for nothing? Are people correct when they object that batteries never just die like mine did? Do you think it is actually the alternator and the garage fitting a new battery was totally wrong?
The car in question is a 12 year old Ford Fiesta, if it makes any difference.
Thanks in advance!