Car keeps going dead: 5 mechanics later, still unresolved

Car keeps going dead: 5 mechanics later, still unresolved

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Becky88

Original Poster:

27 posts

17 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
Hi,

I’m hoping you guys can help, I’m at my wits end with this car.

Car is a Ford Fiesta, 2014 plate, purchased in 2017 with 10000 miles on the clock. As of today, it has just over 50000 miles.

This issue started about two years ago. Came out one morning to go to work and car was dead. Would tick turn over but not start. Diagnosed dead battery. Battery replaced. Didn’t fix the issue. Second mechanic then diagnosed faulty alternator. Alternator replaced, car worked for approx 12 months.

After 12 months, the car started not working again. Would go out in the morning to find it totally dead; no lights, wouldn’t tick turn over, even the key fob wouldn’t work. Car was literally dead.

Mechanic out, told dead battery. Battery replaced for second time in 12 months. Didn’t fix it. Another mechanic out, told alternator again. Was advised the previous mechanic had installed a dud alternator and needed a new one. Alternator replaced, car worked for about 3 days before dying again.

4th mechanic out, told me the fusible link had gone. Couldn’t get the part because it was middle of first Covid lockdown and all was shut. Mechanic did a work around to get it going as I needed the car for work. This fixed the issue for around a year.

Fast forward to a month or so and again, same problem. Car won’t start, completely dead. No lights, no ticking turning over, key fob doesn’t work.

At this point I’m fuming. Have a mechanic out, says it’s the computer module under passenger dash. Ask for second opinion from another mechanic who was an auto electrician on advice of a neighbour, and the auto electrician said same thing as previous mechanic; it’s the computer module. Got told price to fix would be at least £1k but get told if I call Ford they’ll look at it because apparently this is a known issue.

Fast forward to today. I’ve taken my car into Ford, explained all of the above to them and said it’s the computer module as 2 independent mechanics had diagnosed it.

Call from Ford earlier, computer module is fine. Says he doesn’t know what the issue is, other than it’s a “massive short” causing the car to die. Told me he’d call me back to confirm issue within an hour. That was at 3, it’s now 16:45 so I’m guessing he can’t find the issue.

Can anyone possibly help me to understand what the bloody hell is wrong with this car? I’m desperate for answers. I’ve wasted so much money trying to fix this problem and it just keeps recurring. I’ve literally had this car looked at by 6 mechanics and I’m getting different answers from them all.

I took it to Ford - the exact garage I originally bought it from - because I figured if anyone can pinpoint and finally fix the issue, Ford themselves should be able to, but it looks like even Ford are struggling.

Edit: to be clear, the car works intermittently. It’ll be dead today, and work fine tomorrow. I’ll pop into a shop and come out to it dead. No rhyme nor reason for it. Also having issues with my car not recognising my usb - have had 2 phones and multiple usb leads, and have no problems using my phone in my mums car so it’s not my phone or leads, it’s a radio issue. Again, very intermittent. Sometimes phone will connect fine, sometimes it won’t work at all, sometimes it’ll connect for a variable length of time before disconnecting and I either have to wait around 5-10 minutes for it to work again, or I have to turn the radio off and wait for 10 minutes.

People also think I have my brights on when I have my headlights on. This started about a year ago.

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance

Edited by Becky88 on Thursday 27th May 20:06 for grammar/clarity


Edited by Becky88 on Thursday 27th May 20:09

Trackdayer

718 posts

9 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
Okay, two things you need to do

1) Buy some form of jump starting. Cheapest is jump leads. Or a lithium jump pack if you want something really easy. Then you won't ever be stranded.

2) A parasitic drain test. This is a test to determine which circuit is draining your battery. It's something which isn't going to sleep as it should. Once this is determined, it could be a relatively easy fix. Any competent auto electrician can do this. You can even DIY it with nothing more than a £10 multimeter off eBay.

whatmoretyres

84 posts

173 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
What he said

To be honest, just trade it in and let it be a warranty fix for someone else, sourcing a fiesta is not hard

paintman

6,547 posts

158 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
I sympathise.

In the 70's we had a Mini Clubman estate from brand new.
Fine apart from when there had been heavy overnight fog which invariably resulted in a flat battery.
In & out of the dealers like a yo-yo as it was still under warranty.
Nothing they did made any difference & eventually we got fed up with it & p'exd it.

Trevor555

2,981 posts

52 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
I'm not usually one to give up on a car.

But seriously, how much more money are you prepared to spend on it if so many mechanics haven't been able to fix it?

Now that it's at Ford, and if they can't find the fault, your car will almost certainly be given to the master tech with the most experience.

If they're stumped they will have Ford technical to speak to.

So my advice is, if they can't get to the bottom of it then it's time to stop any more spending on it.

Megaflow

7,643 posts

193 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
Are you saying you can go out to it one day and find it totally dead, do nothing with it, go out in a day or so and it is fine, or do you charge the battery in the mean time?

supertouring

2,217 posts

201 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
Had a Focus that kept not starting, quite random but would be ok after an hour or two, again random.

Turned out to be a poor earth connection, on the chassis I think.

Once it was cleaned up the problem never re-occured.

Becky88

Original Poster:

27 posts

17 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
whatmoretyres said:
What he said

To be honest, just trade it in and let it be a warranty fix for someone else, sourcing a fiesta is not hard
I'm strongly considering it if Ford can't fix it. I'm just annoyed because I finished my last finance payment on this car literally a week ago, after 4 long years of monthly payments. I was so looking forward to being finance free frown


chrisch77

376 posts

43 months

Thursday 27th May
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I would be replacing the starter motor next if the problem only manifests itself when you try to start the engine. Motor may well be goosed and so when you try to start it it just shorts out the battery voltage across the commutator or the engagement solenoid coil.

Do the other electrical systems work when the engine is ‘dead’? Does the central locking work when you go to the car?

Becky88

Original Poster:

27 posts

17 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
Megaflow said:
Are you saying you can go out to it one day and find it totally dead, do nothing with it, go out in a day or so and it is fine [...]?
Exactly this. One day it's fine, next day, dead. I leave it, come back maybe an hour later, maybe a day later, maybe 2 weeks later, and runs perfectly. No jump start, no charging the battery, nothing. Which is why this is so frustrating. It's the unpredictability.

For example, I jump started my car 2 weeks ago to get it going. Drove like a charm. Took it on a long drive, no issue. Came home, parked up, immediately turned engine off then started it again to test it - DEAD. Today, after it's sat there completely dead for 2 weeks, it started up like it it was brand new. All I did was put the key in the ignition and turn. And yet, after it died, I'd tried to start it multiple times just by putting the key in the ignition and it was dead every single time. What was different the one time it did start? No idea.


Edited by Becky88 on Thursday 27th May 19:40

Megaflow

7,643 posts

193 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
Becky88 said:
Exactly this. One day it's fine, next day, dead. I leave it, come back maybe an hour later, maybe a day later, maybe 2 weeks later, and runs perfectly. No jump start, no charging the battery, nothing. Which is why this is so frustrating. It's the unpredictability.

For example, I jump started my car 2 weeks ago to get it going. Drove like a charm. Took it on a long drive, no issue. Came home, parked up, immediately turned engine off then started it again - DEAD. Today, after it's sat there dead for 2 weeks, didn't jump it or anything, started up like it it was brand new. And yet, within this two weeks, I'd tried to start it multiple times and it didn't work. What was different this time? No idea.
Ok, now that really is weird. You say it ticks over, but won’t start. I think what you mean is it turns overs, but won’t start. Tick over is another saying for idling.

The fact it is dead one day, and works another day, and turns over even when it won’t start tells me it is not the starter, alternator or battery.

Modern cars have an intertidal switch the turns off the fuel pump in the event of an accident. I wonder if yours is dodgy or the fuel pump maybe, but a fuel pump is unlikely to get better once it has failed.

Becky88

Original Poster:

27 posts

17 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
chrisch77 said:
I would be replacing the starter motor next if the problem only manifests itself when you try to start the engine. Motor may well be goosed and so when you try to start it it just shorts out the battery voltage across the commutator or the engagement solenoid coil.
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll mention this to Ford.

chrisch77 said:
Do the other electrical systems work when the engine is ‘dead’? Does the central locking work when you go to the car?
No, no signs of life at all. No ticking turning over, no lights, no radio, no noises, key fob doesn't work. Just completely and entirely dead.

Edited by Becky88 on Thursday 27th May 19:57


Edited by Becky88 on Thursday 27th May 19:57

Becky88

Original Poster:

27 posts

17 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
Megaflow said:
Ok, now that really is weird. You say it ticks over, but won’t start. I think what you mean is it turns overs, but won’t start. Tick over is another saying for idling.
Apologies, let me clarify.

The very first time I had an issue (about 2 years ago), it turned over. Since then, it doesn't turn over at all. When it dies, it's completely dead. No lights, noises, turning over, etc.

EDIT: Also, thank you for educating me on terminology. I didn't even know there was a difference between 'turn over' and 'tick over'. I was just using 'tick over' as a synonym. Thanks for the explanation smile

Edited by Becky88 on Thursday 27th May 19:55

Summit_Detailing

1,531 posts

161 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
supertouring said:
Had a Focus that kept not starting, quite random but would be ok after an hour or two, again random.

Turned out to be a poor earth connection, on the chassis I think.

Once it was cleaned up the problem never re-occured.
My wife had similar on a Toyota iQ and I eventually traced it to a dodgy earth cable. New cable fitted and it was absolutely fine for the next 3 years until she sold the car.

Cheers,

Chris

Becky88

Original Poster:

27 posts

17 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
Summit_Detailing said:
My wife had similar on a Toyota iQ and I eventually traced it to a dodgy earth cable. New cable fitted and it was absolutely fine for the next 3 years until she sold the car.

Cheers,

Chris
You're the second person to mention this so I'm gonna give this suggestion to Ford to see if this is the issue.

jeremyc

19,790 posts

252 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
Did you have the fusible link replaced following your mechanic's bodge as recommended on your thread from April 2020 when you discussed this same problem?

Becky88

Original Poster:

27 posts

17 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
jeremyc said:
Did you have the fusible link replaced following your mechanic's bodge as recommended on your thread from April 2020 when you discussed this same problem?
No, I didn't. I intended to but was waiting on scrap yard to re-open to get it at a cheaper price (I had significant financial difficulties at the time) and ended up forgetting about it.

Do you think that could be the issue? I've tried getting hold of the mechanic who diagnosed this particular fault but stupidly didn't make a note of his name or number and now I can't find him.

EDIT: I expected the fusible link to be the problem when I called out a mechanic, but when they both said nothing about it (even after I mentioned it to them), I took their word for it that it was the computer module and unrelated to the fusible link.

Edited by Becky88 on Thursday 27th May 20:21

sunbeam alpine

5,842 posts

156 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
It may be worth testing the low tension circuit from the ignition switch. Turn the switch to the "run" position, but then connect a wire from the positive terminal on the battery to the low tension connection on the solenoid. If the car starts, it's a fault with the ignition switch. Common fault on Alfa Romeos.

N.B. Don't connect a wire from the battery to where the really thick wire is connected on the starter!! The contact you're looking to connect to is a thin wire!

Trevor555

2,981 posts

52 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
Becky88 said:
Summit_Detailing said:
My wife had similar on a Toyota iQ and I eventually traced it to a dodgy earth cable. New cable fitted and it was absolutely fine for the next 3 years until she sold the car.

Cheers,

Chris
You're the second person to mention this so I'm gonna give this suggestion to Ford to see if this is the issue.
I'm sure this would be one of the first things a mechanic would have checked.

Becky88

Original Poster:

27 posts

17 months

Thursday 27th May
quotequote all
sunbeam alpine said:
It may be worth testing the low tension circuit from the ignition switch. Turn the switch to the "run" position, but then connect a wire from the positive terminal on the battery to the low tension connection on the solenoid. If the car starts, it's a fault with the ignition switch. Common fault on Alfa Romeos.

N.B. Don't connect a wire from the battery to where the really thick wire is connected on the starter!! The contact you're looking to connect to is a thin wire!
Thanks, I have no idea how to go about this myself so I'll feed it back to Ford to ensure they've looked into this as the cause of the issue.