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Dr. Hamman
Dr. Hamman, Automotive Engineer
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 6286
Experience:  30 years experience, Repairing, building, & designing, automobiles.
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Suzuki esteem: 2000 model..My alternator was wore..battery died

Customer Question

My car is a suzuki esteem 2000 model (1.8 L). My alternator was wore out so I was going to replace them but before I did, my battery died. So I recharged it and reinstalled it, but I connected the wrong terminals... First, the car horn went off so I knew something was wrong, but I kept on trying to start the engine despite the horn going on... After I noticed that I connected the wrong terminals, my engine wont start. It tries to but it doesn't start all the way. My head light turns on, my internal light turns on, hazard light turns on but when I turn my key to turn the electrical systems on, none of the head lamps turns on (i.e. the check oil, check seat belt, check engine lamps) and neither does my signal lights.

I checked my fuses in the front engine hood but nothing seems to be blown out. Do you think it's just my battery that's dead? for the Suzuki Esteem 2000 model, is it designed for these accidents? Would anybody know what may be wrong?

Thanks and I appreciate any comments.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Dr. Hamman replied 8 years ago.

Hi, I will do my best to assist you. When you are finished please click on accept. I don't get paid unless you do. I don't know if you are a pro or a novice so we may have to fine tune the answer.


You should remove the battery and have it charged and load tested, this will tell you if the battery is good or not. Now for the way it was installed. They call this reverse polarity. I know that you are not going to want to hear this, but here we go. Reverse polarity can torch any electronics. Most electronics are not protected in any way from reverse polarity because this doesn't happen to often. Oddly enough most car stereos are protected by a protection diode. The diode burns out and protects the radio. But you have to open the radio up to replace the diode.

After the battery is checked out, and you know if it is good, put it back in the vehicle. You will know at this point if you have no damage or if it is hurt. The possibility exists that you have an electrical nightmare waiting, but all you can do at this point is to check and see. If the electrical system appears to be screwed up once you have replaced/charged the battery, you will know there are problems. Make sure the battery terminals are clean. Clean the terminals and cables with a wire brush until they look like bright shiny metal. So if every thing is not working at this point you will know you have some problems to locate and repair. I will say that most likely you will need professional help.

If you want to tackle it your self, a repair manual with good schematics is a must. Go through and look at the wiring on the systems that are not working and see what electronics are involved with that system. The electronics will most likely be the problem. You may get lucky so don't give up. Get a good battery in it, at least you will know if it is toast or not. Getting the replacement parts at an auto salvage can help cut the repair costs significantly. If you have any more questions I am here to help. Good luck, and Thanks for using Just Answer.

I hope this helps, 100% satisfaction is my goal. If the answer is not clear, please reply and I will assist you more. When you're satisfied, click on accept. I don't get paid unless you do. A bonus and positive feedback are always appreciated, good luck and Thanks.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I would test out a new battery tommorow. That seems to be what I'm hearing from everyone is that, if a new battery wont do it, then the electrical systems repair will cost as much as buying another used car... Have you dealt with a similar problem in your career ? And if so, would you have an estimate? I'll hate to take it into a mechanic and get a quote of $3,000.... cuz theres no way I can pay that... I understand it depends on the labor hours, hourly pay, the mechanics skills etc. But I would like to get an estimate from your experience in case it is the electrical system.

Thanks :-)
Expert:  Dr. Hamman replied 8 years ago.
Yes I have repaired several reverse polarity accidents. It can be real bad or not so bad. Some drive away with just a battery replacement, and others burn out lots of electronics. Its impossible to make an accurate guess but if you use, used parts and it was real bad, you should be able to keep it under a thousand dollars, possibly a lot less. But remember it might run fine with a good battery, so hope for the best, XXXXX XXXXX for the worst. Good luck with it, and Thanks for using Just Answer.



I hope this helps, 100% satisfaction is my goal. If the answer is not clear, please reply and I will assist you more. When you're satisfied, click on accept. I don't get paid unless you do. A bonus and positive feedback are always appreciated, good luck and Thanks.
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks Dr. Hamman. Just one last question though. Before I change my battery if it's a bad battery, I shouldn't even be able to turn on my car lights though should I? Also, when I turn my key halfway, I usually can at least change my gear to neutral, but I can't do that either, does this indicate something else?

Thanks and this will hopefully be my last question.

-Will
Expert:  Dr. Hamman replied 8 years ago.
That can be a bad sign, but this vehicle has been through a lot because of the reverse polarity accident. That is one reason why I was talking about cleaning the battery cables, and terminals. There can be arcing, and cause some loss of power at the cables. Also go over the fuses real good, pull them out one at a time and check them out. It is possible that any of them are blown. Hang in there and I hop it comes out OK for you.