Drat, my free car is acting up...
January 5, 2008 3:24 PM   Subscribe

Our 1995 Geo Metro seems to be having electrical problems

This just started recently, and while we hoped it was a glitch, it seems not to be the case.

I wasn't in the car when it first started, but it sounds like the vehicle just wouldn't actually start, and the starter would not turn over. The vehicle was getting power, and boost did not help. The car successfully started later, and so we hoped it was ok. What I have noticed though, is that when it does successfully start up the usual beeping sounds distorted---you know, that screechy digital distortion that occurs when something that beeps isn't really getting enough power (at least that's what I assume it is)---and the engine seemed to idle somewhat unevenly, at least for a moment.

Other than that, I haven't noticed any problems, but it's not started twice in the last three or so days (without it being driven that often), so there's clearly something wrong. Any ideas? Is this a cheap fix? Expensive fix? Hire a witch doctor fix?

posted by vernondalhart to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How old is the battery, and is it fully charged? I would check that before doing anything more complicated. Batteries need to replaced every so often -- five or more years if you are lucky, two or three years if you are not -- so it may just be time for a new one.
posted by Forktine at 3:42 PM on January 5, 2008

I hate to ask, but could you be more specific? "The usual beeping" doesn't apply to every vehicle.

Off the top of my head I'd guess there's a gunked up connector. What area of the country are you in? If the air is humid or salty the fix may just be to disconnect every plastic connector you can find an reconnect them. I had SUbarus and Chevies in Seattle that had to have their headlight switch cleaned about every 3 months.
posted by krisak at 3:42 PM on January 5, 2008

Correction, the Subarus had to have their headlight switches cleaned. The Chevies had to have the starter and glow plug relays cleaned (was diesel trucks).
posted by krisak at 3:47 PM on January 5, 2008

Response by poster: I'm pretty sure it isn't the battery---when the car was initially boosted, it didn't help, but the car has started since on its own.

As for the beeping... I'm not sure how to describe it. It's just a "beep beep beep" that occurs when the vehicle is started.

We live in Vancouver. One thing that we did intend to try is to clean the battery terminals with baking soda and water (the car isn't here right now for me to do so), but as I recall when I looked under the hood, the terminals did not look all that dirty.
posted by vernondalhart at 3:50 PM on January 5, 2008

Vancouver... Wet, humid, and salty. I'd go through the car under the hood and under the dashboard. Disconnect and reconnect every plastic connector you can find. It'll be labor intensive and time consuming, but costs nothing and guarantees you won't spend $75 on a non-issue. Hope you have a heated garage to work in...
posted by krisak at 3:54 PM on January 5, 2008

The '95 metro was the last year without OBD-II - you can use a paperclip to see if it's got any fault codes stored up. I've seen this sort of behavior in a car with a damaged sensor.
posted by Orb2069 at 6:44 PM on January 5, 2008

Response by poster: What exactly is OBD-II?
posted by vernondalhart at 9:11 PM on January 5, 2008

What exactly is OBD-II?

On Board Diagnostics, second generation.....
posted by raildr at 9:16 PM on January 5, 2008

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