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My wife drives a 2001 Buick Century with ~130k miles. A few days ago, she was driving it home when she described that several warning indicators came on suddenly, the windshield wipers stopped functioning, and she began to hear a winding noise. The car continued to drive home and when I opened the hood to look at it, I could smell a burning smell like an electrical fire. The car now does not hold an electrical charge for more than a few hours, but if I jump start it, it will run normally for at least a short period of time. I also checked the OBD2 fault codes and it reported P1404.

At the time, we were just about to buy a new car so we went ahead and bought one. This car now sits in the driveway as I try to sell it. I estimate it's not worth much more than $900, so I'm looking for suggestions on how to diagnose this car myself with minimal investment to see if there is a potential DIY fix that would make it more attractive to potential buyers.

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1 Answer 1

P1404 is the error code for the EGR valve (exhaust gas recirculation).

From the symptoms you describe, however, I'd suspect you have a short circuit somewhere - you need to locate this before you can fix it - the best way of doing this is with a multimeter and a wiring diagram for the car (which you should find in a workshop manual).

Charge the battery and remove the fuses, and connect the multimeter in current mode between the battery and the car - DO NOT start the car like this, you'll destroy the meter!

Replace fuses one at a time until you see a current register on the meter - this will tell you that which circuits are drawing current - when you get one that shouldn't be, you've got your culprit...

The battery will probably need replacing, they don't tend to survive being repeatedly fully discharged - but don't do so until you've fixed the problem or you'll just destroy the new battery!

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Good advice, I'll report back after I've had a chance to do this. It may be after the 4th of July weekend. –  user2635036 Jul 2 at 14:56

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