Q: Electrical problems, now car won't start.

asked by on December 17, 2015

The battery light stays illuminated. While driving the airbag light came on, the speedometer stopped working, the turn signals quit working, and the engine and other electrical components started to cut in and out. Made it home and the car won't start at all. Had no problem with the car prior to this happening.

Consider yourself lucky that you made it home! Most stories like this end on the back of a tow truck, after a few hours waiting on the side of the road. Now, the good news is the symptoms you describe are textbook signs of a failed alternator. When an alternator fails, the car’s battery is left to handle all the electrical loads, which quickly depletes available energy. First, non-essential systems shutdown (airbag, air conditioning, etc) and eventually, there isn’t enough power left to keep the engine running. It may be a good idea to contact a technician who can verify the alternator has failed, replace it as necessary, and test the battery to make sure it will be able to be recharged. This way, you aren’t stuck again the next time you shut the car off. In the span of a couple of hours, your Sable should be back to normal again.

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