2005 Toyota Corolla stalled on highway; battery cables; recall
December 29, 2010 7:08 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: "I've got a 2005 Corolla. That year/make is one of those selectively affected by the Toyota recall re: random stalling. I never received a notice that my car was affected, but I did buy (and transfer the title) fairly recently. Anyway, my car stalled--basically on the highway at rush hour..."

...Everything went out completely. I was able to force a coast to the shoulder. Opened hood, checked battery cables. One of them was *slightly* loose, but by no means unattached. I fiddled around (can't remember exactly what I did), and then my car started as seemingly randomly as it had stalled. Got home, used wrench to tighten cables, haven't had a problem since then. Wouldn't be concerned if there weren't a recall. What do you think?"

So: Would the battery cables being loose be responsible for the stalling?

He adds, "Car make/year is within the recall, but it's a selective recall, meaning you're supposed to receive a notice if your specific car is affected."
posted by fiercecupcake to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
I'd be willing to bet that if your friend took it to a dealership and told them that her car stalled like in the recall, they would diagnose and probably repair for free, regardless of whether the car was in the selective recall. Also, if she bought recently from a reputable car lot (and not an individual) there may be a warranty still in effect from
posted by elpea at 7:31 AM on December 29, 2010

*in effect from the seller. Random stalling could be caused by different things, and is serious enough to warrant checking out. I say a dealer will probably fix for free because Toyota would typically rather the dealer do that than risk getting sued or more bad PR than they already have from the many recent recalls.
posted by elpea at 7:34 AM on December 29, 2010

The documents related to that recall can be found at NHTSA'a website here; they contain information about why there is a recall and contact info for more informatio. If that is not the recall he is concerned about, the NHTSA page here should be the starting point for more info.
posted by TedW at 7:37 AM on December 29, 2010

If you can find a dealer who isn't looking to rip you off, they would do it if it's a recall issue because there parts and labour time gets directly charged to Toyota.

I'm not saying all dealers look to take advantage but some do, so you have to be careful.

I had a 1992 Mazda Protege with a similar problem (after high mileage). We could never find the exact issue but it was related to the A/C.
posted by juiceCake at 7:38 AM on December 29, 2010

The battery only starts the car. The loose cable was not the problem.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:25 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could call the dealer with your vin# and they could tell you if your car is part of the recall.

(The problem you describe and the fix you performed don't match up very well (at all really), so my inclination would be to assume that something weird happened. It may happen again, and it would be worth taking the car to a mechanic, depending on your comfort level with it happening again.)
posted by desl at 8:27 AM on December 29, 2010

I had a problem with my battery cables coming loose from time to time. This would absolutely cause stalling while driving, as well as weird driving issues (sounded like the transmission going up and down randomly while going no more than 15 mph) and occasionally refusing to start. Loose battery cables can indeed cause stalling out while driving. Loose cables will break the battery/alternator/generator circuit, and that circuit needs to be complete.

Mine were actually damaged, and we couldn't find the right part to replace the damaged bit, hence the while where things came loose from time to time. Ordinarily cables shouldn't be able to come loose. This still warrants a look by someone knowledgeable.
posted by galadriel at 9:02 AM on December 29, 2010

The battery only starts the car. The loose cable was not the problem.

This is not true. The battery provides capacitance to the electrical system to account for changes in demand before the alternator can respond. The negative terminal is also the path to ground for engine in many cars as well.

A loose battery cable could conceivably cause a car to stall. The alternator puts out AC and rectifies that to DC with the help of the battery. A loose cable would screw that up, and the computers would not like it one bit. There are other failures as well, but you get the idea.

I would have the car checked out. Have a good look at the alternator - a really good way to burn them up is to run with loose/bad battery connection.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:05 AM on December 29, 2010

The battery only starts the car. The loose cable was not the problem.

Eh, it's not really that simple on more modern cars. The battery can act like a buffer for the electrical system so the alternator doesn't always have the diode cluster opened all the way. When my battery went last month, the alternator quickly burnt itself out because of this.

OP, have your friend clean the inside of the terminal cables and the battery terminals themselves with a wire brush. Corrosion can sometimes cause a weak connection, which would definitely explain the stall. If it happens again, definitely take it to a certified dealer. They'll at least diagnose it for free.

On preview: yeah, what pogo said.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:00 AM on December 29, 2010

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