I tried to start my car less than a minute after turning it off last night and it wouldn't turn over... it wouldn't even click.

I tried a few times and then let it rest. After a 30 minute phone call I opened the car door and the interior lights came on but attempts to start the car shut all electrical down (even the headlights won't work) and there is no apparent signs of it trying to start when turning the key (no clicking, etc.) everything just goes dead...

The weird thing is, if I give it a good 10 minutes or so all the lights will work but the car still won't turn over or even seem like it is even trying to do so and future attempts to start the car will cause the electrical to go dead temporarily all over again...

2 Answers 2


This problem is usually indicative of a bad connection at the battery (or one of the battery cables). It almost behaves like a resettable fuse. When there is a connection, the lights work because the connection is good enough to allow the little amount of power needed to power these devices. Then, when you try to start, the connection breaks because there is more demand than the connection can take and then nothing works ... wash, rinse, repeat.

To fix this, you need to figure out where the connection is getting lost. It may just take tightening a post on the battery. If the battery has a lot of corrosion at the posts, this could cause the condition. You'd need to clean the posts off and get a good connection again.


As @FredWilson suggests, the problem is most likely in the terminal where the cable attaches to the clamp. Loosen (but don't remove all the way) the bolts which holds the cable to the clamp, doing the negative first, then before reconnecting, work on the positive. Once done, reconnect the positive first then the negative last. This should prevent arcing. When the wire is out of it's holder, ensure the area of the clamp is clean to include any paint (specifically the red positive terminal). Then clean the cable, knocking any debris or corrosion out of the cable to get it as clean as possible. Once clean, coat the cable wires in dielectric grease and reattach firmly into the clamp. This procedure should most likely solve your issue. You can get dielectric grease at almost any parts store or I'd imagine Walmart as well.


The picture in your comment suggests the following course of action:

The bolted type of battery terminal shown can cause this symptom and still look OK.

Test it with a voltmeter. Put one probe on the lead of the battery and the other on the copper of the cable and then read the meter while trying to crank the engine. Do this for both connections. If the volt reading is more than 0.2 volts that connection needs repair. Most likely one of them will read 8 or more volts.

That type of terminal is considered temporary by many in the repair industry. The crimp type terminal type shown below is the preferred type and the type car came with. These remain tight over time; the bolted type used on your car tend to loosen.

Crimp type battery terminal

While it is possible the loss of voltage is elsewhere in the wiring it is not likely.

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