Q: Dealer put an "old battery" in my car, and now I'm having all sorts of problems.

asked by on October 30, 2016

I sent my car to my local Hyundai dealer to have an ECU replaced, and they tell me that my alternator, battery, and brake switch were bad. They replaced the battery with a "used one we had lying around". The alternator and brake switch were replaced with new parts. I take the car home only to find smoke coming from the engine and no power to my automatic windows. I take the car back to Hyundai and they say my Condenser fan is bad, and so is my fuse-box. I've already spent $2400 on replacing the ECU, Alternator, and brakeswitch, and they want an additional $2400 to repair the fusebox and condenser fan. Is it possible they shorted out the electronics on my car by installing an old battery? Or some type of negligence? To top it all off, they broke my glove-box, and I opened the hood to find a couple loose bolts lying on top of my glove-box...They completely refuse to take any responsibility..please help!

My car has 120000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Advising you is hard because consumer rights vary somewhat from state to state (I don’t know what state you are in). If you were in Ohio and they did what you are describing, the dealer would have significant "problems" both from the standpoint of what the Attorney General’s office would have to say and your own private right of recovery in, say, a small claims court. In particular, and this is a key point relative to the concern you are writing in about, the Dealer CANNOT damage your property, the glove box, and leave parts off of your car (the loose bolts), without incurring serious liability to you.

ECU’s RARELY fail. And, on those rare occasions where they do fail, studies have proven that half of ECU’s returned as bad, under warranty claims, are actually perfectly good (that’s how "rare" the actual failures are). Consequently, and not illegitimately, my "guess" would be there was nothing wrong with the ECU. You should have asked for unmistakable evidence that the ECU was bad (test and diagnostic results explained to you) before letting them replace that part. The sale to you of a used battery as a "replacement" for your battery, or even the mere suggestion that that is a legitimate repair strategy, suggests the shop is highly unprofessional.

Professional shops do not sell used car batteries, or install the same, except in an emergency. Batteries do not themselves cause short circuits, however, faulty installation of a battery will cause electrical problems and there are many ways, indeed endless ways, a careless mechanic can damage your car’s electrical system. Based on what you have described, yes, it is possible they damaged the car. If they were willing to charge $2,400 for merely an ECU, an alternator, and a $25 switch, anything is possible.

Going forward, trust but verify; that is, ask to see the diagnostic result and make sure their explanation makes sense to you and appears credible, and be sure to get your old parts back just in case you need to file a later complaint. If they are not willing to explain the diagnostic and the prices are irrational ($2,400 is irrational), obviously that is not the best shop to take your car.

I recommend having one of YourMechanic’s certified technicians come to your location to determine exactly what is wrong with your car, investigate [why the car is smoking](https://www.yourmechanic.com/services/smoke-from-engine-or-exhaust-inspection, and inspect for any electrical problems.

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Battery dead after car sat for one month

Hi there. It sounds like the battery has an internal short. I would replace the battery. I would also make sure that the connections at the battery cables are clean and tight. If they are loose at all, then the...

Wrench light is on and the car is not running correctly

Assuming you are referring to the vehicle taking too much time to change gears, this may be a faulty transmission control solenoid. Modern automatic transmissions use pressurized hydraulic fluid to change gears. Every time a gear change is required, the...

My 2004 hyundai santa fe jerks and shutters under heavy acceleration/ under load. How can I fix it?

Drive line joints are easily checked but, based on your description, the operating condition of the engine itself might be a issue. Poor or uneven acceleration can be caused by faults in the throttle position sensor, mass airflow sensor, vacuum...

Related articles

How a Battery Works With a Car's Electrical System
Have Have you ever wondered how your car’s electrical system works? It all starts with your car battery. Your car's electrical system operates on a closed circuit, with the main power system being the automotive battery. It uses less than...
Alternator or Car Battery: How to Tell Which Part Is the Problem
When When you need to go somewhere and your car won’t start, it’s not unreasonable to think that you could have a car charging problem. A jump start might fix it in the short term and get you to work...
2012 Hyundai Elantra vs. 2012 Ford Focus: Which One Should I Buy?
The Hyundai Elantra and the Ford Focus are both offerings in the inexpensive compact sedan category, and both represent some of the best offerings in that class. Compact cars are slightly larger than a subcompact, but smaller than a mid-size;...