When I turn the key in to start all the lights on the dashboard go out completely and when I turn it back to the off position the dash lights back up. What could the problem be if the battery is okay?

  • 3
    See my answer here to make sure the battery is good. Nov 13, 2012 at 15:13
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    The lights (and all kinds of other accessories) should go off when you turn the key to "start." This is "load shedding" to make sure that all the battery's capacity is available for the starter and engine electronics.
    – mac
    Nov 16, 2012 at 18:29
  • If the battery ends up being good, I'd question the ignition switch ..especially in a Chevy. I've been through two different ignition switches in a '97 Blazer.
    – elrobis
    Mar 13, 2015 at 20:30
  • What car is this? i have seen this problem on a Jaguar it was caused by a Huge Fuse that was hidden behind the carpets on the back wall of the boot, the fact it's working until high current draw (starting the engine) would say a fuse has / is failing. Don't for get to start an engine there is a lot of power from bat needed, depending on car Starter Motor, Injectors, Coil pack & more all high power devices.
    – Barkermn01
    Jan 11, 2016 at 14:30

6 Answers 6


Some things to check in order of likelihood-

  • Check the battery connections are tight. A loose connection may prevent your car from starting, even when the lights, radio, etc., may seem to be working fine.
  • The battery may not be fine. Lights are not high load,so having the lights work is not an indicator of how healthy your battery is
  • Starter motor. Some starter motors stick as the fail, so occasionally a good whack with a piece of wood is required (don't try this if you aren't sure which bit of metal is your starter motor, you might break something)
  • Fuses. Easy to check all your fuses in the fuse box with a multimeter.
  • Wiring. If all else checks out, you may need to carry out a full check on your wiring to see where the failure is.
  • Based on the description, I'd agree with your first bullet.
    – JoeFish
    Nov 13, 2012 at 18:52
  • I'd bet money that it's the battery. I've seen a lot of them go out the same way.
    – StyxRiver
    Nov 13, 2012 at 22:47

Have the battery load tested. I've had several batteries go dead in the same manner: dash lights working just find until you turn the key and it all dies.


Make sure all the connections are clean. Test the battery to ensure it really has 12volts. Use a voltmeter.

I've had a battery that worked fine, but couldn't start the car because the connections needed cleaning. Even if there isn't corrosion it could be an issue. Once I had those add-on connectors that go on the end of the battery cable get so rusted it stopped the connection from working.


The same thing happened with me ( Ford Focus - bad starter? ) when trying to "turn the car over". The current drawn "killed" the car for about 2 minutes, where nothing electrical worked at all.

Check that the battery terminals are clamped down correctly. You might need to remove the clamps and reseat them.

  • I've experienced something similar. In my case, I think I was able to wiggle the terminals or something like that to get home. Afterwards, I tightened the terminal nuts and all was good for awhile. I eventually needed some battery service, but I think they just cleaned the terminals, sprayed on the red stuff (some sort of corrosion resistant), and it was good to go.
    – elrobis
    Mar 13, 2015 at 20:27
  • Ironically enough, it was the corrosion stuff that messed up the connections... The mechanic used vaseline over the posts, and it seeped in between the post and terminal.
    – Nick
    Mar 13, 2015 at 22:52

Make sure battery connections/post are clean and battery has at least 12.4 volts. Check and make sure wires to your starter are not making ground connection to any metal, and are exposed and not covered to anything metal. Also, could be the starter/alternator. Process of elimination -- more then likely it's electrical, not the motor. Hope this helps.


Immobiliser has kicked in cause you removed the battery, got the same problem, I've been told locking & unlocking the car with the key fob will do it!! Mine don't seem to work, the real answer is a 4 digit code you get when you buy the car from the dealer which I didn't, it not the radio code which is all I had it's the ecu or eka which is in the owners manual under security/safety, you use the code in the car door lock by turning the key whatever number of times one way then opposite way for next & so on, if you find any other way let me know

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