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Jay
Jay, Nissan Technician
Category: Nissan
Satisfied Customers: 20396
Experience:  20+yrs experience with Nissan & Infiniti Trained & Certified.Currently still working for Dealer
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1999 Nissan Altima: wont start..no dome light or headlights will work

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I have 1999 Nissan Altima that won't start. When I turn on the ingnition nothing happens. Also, no dome light or headlights will work. The battery is fine, the battery terminals have been cleaned real well, there is a new starter and new alternator, and all fuses look good. The car had been having an intermitent starting problem that seemed to be helped by disconnecting and reconnecting the negative battery lead. The last time it started (after reconnecting the negative battery cable) the car ran for about 20 seconds and then cut out. I could hear clicking sounds coming from below the air intake and I could hear the blower fan inside the car going on and off. Now the car doesn't respond to anything I try to do. I am thinking it may be a short somewhere, but don't really know or where to look. Any help would be appreciated.

Jay :

Hello and thank you for using JustAnswer.com

Jay :

It sounds like a poor battery connection or a bad battery terminal.

Jay :

Did you try jump starting the car?

Jay :

to see if it would start?

Customer:

Jay,

Jay :

yes?

Customer:

This morning I hooked the battery back up with the negative lead and the dome light worked. So I tried starting. It turned over a few times like it didn't have enough juice in the battery. Then everything went dead again. (no response with key, no dome light). I have tried jump starting - nothing happens. Now when I disconnect and reconnect the negative battery lead, the car alarm starts going off. Could the car alarm be messing things up?

Jay :

Oh

Jay :

When the alarm is going off, are the parking lights flashing?

Customer:

No, no lights. The alarm sound is not the full volume sound, either.

Jay :

It's possible you have a battery battery terminal, and a after market alarm keeping the car from starting.

Customer:

Do you mean a bad battery terminal?

Jay :

Yes

Jay :

It may be causing to much resistance and not allowing the power to get to the car.

Customer:

I should be able to test with another battery to verify whether a bad terminal is a problem, shouldn't I?

Jay :

If you get another battery and have the same issue, yeah

Jay :

If you get another battery and it resolves your issue, it could be a battery with a bad cell

Customer:

I was going to use another battery from another car to test.

Jay :

you can do that

Customer:

I will try that and see what I come up with.

Jay :

you got it

Customer:

I swapped batteries. The battery from my truck made no difference in the Altima (except for the alarm noise which I stop with the valet switch). I put the battery from the Altima in my truck and it started right up. I am wondering if I should replace my negative battery lead.

Customer:

I disconnected the negative lead and used the jumper cable as a quick replacement. No difference. When the alarm starts making noise after I reconnect the negative battery lead, I can switch the dome light to "on" and the alarm noise stops. When I switch it back to "door" the noise starts again.

Jay :

So when you put the Altima battery in the truck, you had no change.

Jay :

All power comes on?

Customer:

When I put the truck battery in the Altima there was no difference. There was no power. However, I tried the Altima battery in the truck just to see what the battery would do, and it stated the truck right up. So I am thinking the battery is ok.

Jay :

It could be just a poor battery connection causing the problem.

Jay :

I have seen where just by wiggling and moving a battery terminal end and positioning it in a different position works

Jay :

It does sound like the battery is ok.

Customer:

That used to seem to work. But nothing seems to. I have cleaned everything real good. I have even taken the connectors off the leads and cleaned everything and then re-tightened everything real good. Maybe I should do it all again?

Jay :

Try using a pair of pliers and crimp the battery terminal so it makes a tighter connection.

Jay :

If that doesn't work, then you may need to replace that terminal.

Customer:

Is the terminal the battery post or the connector on the battery lead?

Jay :

The terminal is what is at the end of the cable that attaches to the battery

Customer:

Do you think my using the jumper cable to bypass the negative lead was sufficient to rule out the negative lead and terminal being bad? Should I be concentrating on the positive terminal?

Jay :

If you have tried jumper cables, and still doesn't help, that sounds like a terminal problem

Customer:

Jay, I have re-cleaned the terminals. There is no corrosion, no cracks on either one. Both look solid, but still no change in starting the car or having anything power up. I checked the starter where the positive lead connects. I was able to move it slightly, so I tightened it. After I did that the dome light was on until I tried to start it. No response from the ignition and now the dome light doesn't work. I checked the voltage at the starter where the positive lead connects with a multimeter. Shouldn't it read about 12.2 volts? It read between 2.1 and 1.4, constantly varying in that range.

Customer:

I even took the terminals off and held bare wire of the leads on the battery posts, but still no lights come on or signs of power.

Customer:

When I check the starter for voltage, do I need to have the key in the "on" position or "start" position?

Jay :

When looking for starter voltage,

Jay :

you unplug the gray connector and have someone hold the key in the crank position while you check for power.

Jay :

Did you try disconnecting the negative battery cable and cleaning the main hot lead to the starter?

Customer:

I cleaned the terminal on the positive lead, but not at the starter.

Jay :

What did you move by the starter that brought the power back on?

Customer:

It was the main lead form the battery.

Jay :

Then what ever it is you touched to regain power, is what you want to focus on.

Customer:

Could I have a short somewhere from the battery down to the starter?

Jay :

I don't think so.

Jay :

Most cases when you can get power, and you turn the key and the power goes out, is a battery connection.

Jay :

What I normally do to see if I can get the power on is turn the head lights on, then open the hood and loosen and wiggle battery terminal connections. When I see the lights come on or flicker I know where I need to have my connection

Customer:

I guess I will mess the connection at the starter little more. Maybe undo it, clean it and re-connect it. Also, turn the lights on and see if I can get any feed back.

Jay :

ok

Customer:

Jay, I turned on the lights. I jiggled the battery connections and nothing happened. So I picked up the battery by the plastic handle and started moving the battery and the lights came on. I eventually isolated the movement that made the lights come on down to the positive lead that goes into the fuse box. It turns out that the fusible link connection from the battery was loose. Once I tightened it up everything works normal and the car starts up perfectly. Thanks for you help.

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