December 20, 2007 3:07 PM   Subscribe

So, I just messed with the electronics in my car and now the 2001 Hyundai Elantra won't start.

Long story short, someone broke into my car and fucked up my CD player, but didn't manage to steal it. After months of dealing with no CD player I decided to bite the bullet and take off my dashboard and attempt to fix it/replace it. Things went well, I removed the face plate from the dash and was able to fix the CD player [unbend metal], additionally I noticed an RCA output on the back of the CD player and attached a wire to that so I can do direct line-in from a tape player/mp3 player whatever. Both the line-in and the CD player now work. I reattached all the cables I unhooked and put the faceplate back on, and everything looked great. The dashboard lights up and all that fun stuff.

But, now when I turn the key to start the engine, it just sort of sputters and quits, lots of lights are on on the dashboard, engine light, airbag light, pretty much all the lights. I might have shorted out the battery [I attempted to detach the cable from the negative terminal on the battery, but I was lazy and gave up a second after trying]. Because I did not detach while doing electrical work do you think that will cause my car to not start up? Do I need to buy a new battery? Have I fucked up my car beyond my diagnosis?

posted by quelindo to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
Best answer: I'm not a car person, but it sounds to me like you might just have a drained battery. (I don't understand about how you may have shorted the battery... Did you see sparks?)

Sputtering and illuminating some lights sounds exactly like what happens if you leave a light on for a week and then go try to start the car -- you don't have enough juice to turn over the motor.

I don't want to steer you wrong, but I'd do a quick visual inspection, maybe check the fuses (is there anything that doesn't turn on at all?), and, if all looks well, try jumpstarting it.
posted by fogster at 3:17 PM on December 20, 2007

Seconding the jumpstart. Do any of your dashboard gauges measure battery charge?
posted by Industrial PhD at 3:36 PM on December 20, 2007

You probably shorted the battery somehow. I did the same thing when installing a radio in my own car. Jumpstart the car and drive the car for a while to see if you can get the battery to hold a charge again. If not you may have damaged the cells and require a new battery like I did.
posted by brettcar at 3:47 PM on December 20, 2007

Since it's actually sputtering and trying to start, you either drained the battery or blew a fuse. Try a jump, and/or pull out your fuses, one by one, and look for disrupted ones. It's possible that your crazy korean car has weird stuff on the same circuit (they all do, I'm just teasing), and perhaps something like your fuel pump and stereo share the same power supply.
posted by TomMelee at 3:47 PM on December 20, 2007

How much fussing did you do with the battery negative terminal connector? Could be a bad connection if it's loose or corroded.

When you say sputters and dies, it sounds like the starter has provided enough juice to turn over then engine to the point of firing, but it's not running for long? Check the gas isn't coincidentally empty? Maybe the fuel pump isn't working properly, if you did happen to short something, so the engine isn't getting enough gas to keep running?

Seconding to check all the fuses, both at the fusebox and under the hood.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 3:47 PM on December 20, 2007

Response by poster: I jumped it and it worked, thanks hive.
posted by quelindo at 4:38 PM on December 20, 2007

For future reference, a good way to see if the battery is drained is to try to start the car with the headlights on. If the headlights go dim and you turn the key, it's is likely that your not getting enough voltage to run the starter but enough to run the lights and whatnot.
posted by sideshow at 12:24 PM on December 21, 2007

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