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    1. Member ChristpherWa1ken's Avatar
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      04-30-2012 10:04 AM #1
      I'm having some trouble with the battery in my wife's 2004 Jetta. The battery was purchased in November 2009, making it about 2 1/2 years old. The problem is probably best described with a no-so-brief timeline of events, all of which took place over the last week.

      Monday
      Wife takes the car to work at 7:45am (about 3.5 miles away from home, about a 10 minute drive). She goes to leave at around 4pm and the car won't start. She calls me at work immediately (as someone has to get our daughter from day care by 5pm) and I pick up our daughter then drive to where she works. I take them home (our 6 month old was getting cranky) and head back with our Passat to jump it. It takes about 15 mins to charge, but ultimately starts up (everything was completely dead, no clock, odometer, power locks, etc.) My wife swears she didn't leave anything on, and I believe her, but she and I both understand that she could have easily left something on and just didn't realize.

      I take the car to Sears (about 5 miles away, 15 mins with traffic) where the battery was purchased, figuring if I need a new battery, I might as well just get it overwith that night. They test battery and alternator and both are fine, so I take the car home. I start it up one more time around 10pm with no problems.

      Tuesday
      As the Passat was still at my wife's place of employment, we take the Jeep together to drop daughter off, then I take her to work so I can get the Passat. I leave the Jetta home all day and try to start it again at around 7pm. It starts without any hesitation whatsoever.

      Wednesday
      I take the Jetta to drop my daughter off at daycare (<1 mile from home) and drop it back off at home to take the Passat for the Day. I didn't bother starting it that night.

      Thursday
      Figuring that despite what my wife said about not leaving anything on, the car should be fine and she takes it to work as usual. This is where it gets a little strange (at least to me it does). She leaves at 4pm without any problem and drives to daycare (again, about 10 mins away). She stays inside for 10-15 mins and when she comes out, the car is dead again. I leave work to jump it, and after 5 mins it starts up with no problem. I take the car home.

      Friday through Sunday
      My wife and daughter were away for the weekend in the Jeep and I let the Jetta sit without starting it all weekend. I check periodically to see if the clock and odometer display are working, and they are.

      Today
      My wife threw caution to the wind and took it to work today. It started up just fine.


      At this point, I feel comfortable ruling out the battery and alternator. What the hell else should I be looking at?

      Cliffs Notes
      -Battery dies, jump it it bring it back to life, Sears says no problem with battery/alternator.
      -Drive it very little over next couple of days, wife takes it to and from work one day, then after being stopped for 10-15 mins, it's dead again.
      -Able to jump it again and has been fine ever since.
      -wtf is going on here?

    2. Member
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      04-30-2012 10:07 AM #2
      Loose terminal?

    3. Member
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      04-30-2012 10:09 AM #3
      Quote Originally Posted by EGSEDAN View Post
      Loose terminal?
      My first guess as well.
      I'd take both terminals off, clean the posts, clean the insides of the terminals, and put them back on good & tight.
      Check the terminals for any pitting.
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

    4. Member ChristpherWa1ken's Avatar
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      04-30-2012 10:10 AM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by EGSEDAN View Post
      Loose terminal?
      Maybe. Interestingly, I did notice that the negative terminal was a bit loose, but still making complete contact. Each time I jumped it, it seemed perfectly in place. I tried tightening it, but it looks shot, so I picked up a new one but didn't have a chance to put it on yet. Would a loose negative terminal have those kinds of symptoms?

    5. Member ChristpherWa1ken's Avatar
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      04-30-2012 11:01 AM #5
      I didn't check the ground connection yet. If that is loose, could that be causing the issue?

    6. 04-30-2012 11:04 AM #6
      A loose contact will cause that all day. It's incredible that the guy at Sears didn't check for that first thing.

      Battery cables will get a coating on them after awhile (I can't explain this). If the cable is a little loose you will not get contact. Take both cables off and clean the battery connections first. You can use many things but I would use a wire brush to make sure you get good contact.

      Then clean the cables. They sell a gell or felt pads at any auto parts store for less than a dollar that keeps your connections clean. Then make sure the connections are tight. Not too tight. If you can move the connection at all it will cause the problems you note. Everytime? No, but it will make a car act this way.

      Also......and based upon you saying the cable was loose I'm guessing not but batteries can develop a short in them. Work sometimes, and sometimes not. I'd say your problem is the cables though.

    7. Member ChristpherWa1ken's Avatar
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      04-30-2012 11:13 AM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by pknopp View Post
      A loose contact will cause that all day. It's incredible that the guy at Sears didn't check for that first thing.

      Battery cables will get a coating on them after awhile (I can't explain this). If the cable is a little loose you will not get contact. Take both cables off and clean the battery connections first. You can use many things but I would use a wire brush to make sure you get good contact.

      Then clean the cables. They sell a gell or felt pads at any auto parts store for less than a dollar that keeps your connections clean. Then make sure the connections are tight. Not too tight. If you can move the connection at all it will cause the problems you note. Everytime? No, but it will make a car act this way.

      Also......and based upon you saying the cable was loose I'm guessing not but batteries can develop a short in them. Work sometimes, and sometimes not. I'd say your problem is the cables though.

      Thanks. I'll try cleaning up the connections and perhaps just replace both terminals. This is probably a stupid question (and really just to satisfy my curiosity), but is this actually causing the battery to die? Why is the car starting as a result of jumping it?

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      04-30-2012 11:23 AM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by pknopp View Post
      A loose contact will cause that all day. It's incredible that the guy at Sears didn't check for that first thing.

      Battery cables will get a coating on them after awhile (I can't explain this). If the cable is a little loose you will not get contact. Take both cables off and clean the battery connections first. You can use many things but I would use a wire brush to make sure you get good contact.

      Then clean the cables. They sell a gell or felt pads at any auto parts store for less than a dollar that keeps your connections clean. Then make sure the connections are tight. Not too tight. If you can move the connection at all it will cause the problems you note. Everytime? No, but it will make a car act this way.

      Also......and based upon you saying the cable was loose I'm guessing not but batteries can develop a short in them. Work sometimes, and sometimes not. I'd say your problem is the cables though.
      ^^^This

    9. Member WakusPakus's Avatar
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      04-30-2012 11:26 AM #9
      my .02 - you have a loose ground somewhere causing a parasitic drain on your batt.....i had this same problem and came to find out that my (previous) mechanic installed the wrong size alternator for my jetta.
      Quote Originally Posted by 2.0T_Convert View Post
      Giant deer orgy statue, whale sex videos, and turtle pee-pee which pops out like a pouncing snake.

    10. 04-30-2012 11:31 AM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by ChristpherWa1ken View Post
      Thanks. I'll try cleaning up the connections and perhaps just replace both terminals. This is probably a stupid question (and really just to satisfy my curiosity), but is this actually causing the battery to die?
      No, the battery is fine (assuming the Sears guy did test it)
      Why is the car starting as a result of jumping it?
      You're making a better (cleaner) connection.

      Analogy = cut away most of the electric line running to your house - you'll soon have all sorts of niggling electrical problems which you then resolve by running extension cords from your neighbors - temporarily resolving the problem.
      In your case, I'd say 95% chance of loose connection somewhere.

    11. Member
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      04-30-2012 11:41 AM #11
      I had a loose/corroded ground in my mk4 under the battery tray that caused the lights to dim with radio and such; I cleaned it up and re tightened and had no more issues.

    12. Member ChristpherWa1ken's Avatar
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      04-30-2012 11:49 AM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by bpfoley View Post
      I had a loose/corroded ground in my mk4 under the battery tray that caused the lights to dim with radio and such; I cleaned it up and re tightened and had no more issues.
      Pulling the battery is no big deal, but do you know if there's an easy way to check the ground connection without having to do so? It seems like it's buried. I'll have limited time tonight and would prefer to avoid having to do that tonight if possible.

    13. 04-30-2012 12:03 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by ChristpherWa1ken View Post
      Thanks. I'll try cleaning up the connections and perhaps just replace both terminals. This is probably a stupid question (and really just to satisfy my curiosity), but is this actually causing the battery to die? Why is the car starting as a result of jumping it?
      A few reasons. Putting the jumper cables on moves the loose cable and it connects. A little extra boost will allow the weak connection still work.

      You would not think that a cable being a little loose would cause this but it will. Your battery is likely NOT dead, you just have poor connections. An absolutely dead battery will not charge up enough on a boost and small drive to restart right back up. It's not dead. IMO

    14. 04-30-2012 12:06 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by ChristpherWa1ken View Post
      Pulling the battery is no big deal, but do you know if there's an easy way to check the ground connection without having to do so? It seems like it's buried. I'll have limited time tonight and would prefer to avoid having to do that tonight if possible.
      Just do the battery ends for now. Go in further when you have the time if even needed. I'm betting with good clean tight cables it works just fine.

      If you find corrosion on the cables, baking soda will clean them up.

    15. Member ChristpherWa1ken's Avatar
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      04-30-2012 12:17 PM #15
      Thanks, I'll give it a shot tonight. There doesn't appear to be any signs of corrosion, but it's probably worth it to give them a good cleaning anyway. Until then, I'll just keep my fingers crossed that my wife is able to start it up later.

    16. 04-30-2012 12:21 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by ChristpherWa1ken View Post
      Thanks, I'll give it a shot tonight. There doesn't appear to be any signs of corrosion, but it's probably worth it to give them a good cleaning anyway. Until then, I'll just keep my fingers crossed that my wife is able to start it up later.
      I know I would hate to tell the wife to do this but..............

      If not, tell her to wiggle the cables and try again.

    17. Member ChristpherWa1ken's Avatar
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      04-30-2012 12:56 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by pknopp View Post
      I know I would hate to tell the wife to do this but..............

      If not, tell her to wiggle the cables and try again.
      The thought crossed my mind. If it comes to that, I better prepare now for the response.

    18. 04-30-2012 01:25 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by ChristpherWa1ken View Post
      The thought crossed my mind. If it comes to that, I better prepare now for the response.
      LOL, yeah.

    19. 05-01-2012 08:30 AM #19
      So.....did it start?

    20. Member ChristpherWa1ken's Avatar
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      05-01-2012 09:16 AM #20
      Started up for my wife no problem yesterday and again last night. I didn't have much time last night and did what I could to clean it, which wasn't very thorough. This morning it didn't start, but a quick jiggle got it running. At least now I feel pretty confident that's the issue, so I'll try replacing the terminal an I should be all set. Thanks for the help.

    21. Member ChristpherWa1ken's Avatar
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      05-01-2012 10:09 AM #21
      So, I after my last post, I stopped by a reputable shop in my area to just have them replace the terminal. Looking at it in better light this morning revealed that I did a much better job of cleaning it off than I thought. They told me ~$40 to replace the terminal (probably about $38 more than it would cost me to do myself, but with the lack of personal time lately, I just wanted it done). The tech came back in and told me all he did was re-orient the terminal on the post and it tightened just fine (I did this myself last night, but I deemed it a ghetto-fix, so I switched it back). Was he full of sh!t or is that a sufficient fix? I always figured the orientation on the post shouldn't matter.

    22. 05-01-2012 11:00 AM #22
      There are likely notches on the battery side and cable end. They should fit together just like clasping your fingers together. If the notches are sitting on top of each other you won't get good contact.

      Sometimes it's just something simple but easy to miss.

    23. Member
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      05-01-2012 11:08 AM #23
      Did they charge you?
      5.3L Wrangler work in progress
      Quote Originally Posted by Juniper Monkeys View Post
      "Less Forethought, More Welding"

    24. Member ChristpherWa1ken's Avatar
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      05-01-2012 11:08 AM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by deucestudios View Post
      Did they charge you?
      Nope.

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