When I got to turn the key nothing happens. No lights no clicking no clock no nothing totally dead. It's a new battery. This is the second time it's happened within 6 months. Both times the car sat for 2 days without being driven. My mechanic says there is a short but does not have the equipment to figure it out. Any ideas?

  • 2
    No dash lights? Then it is not the starter.
    – Moab
    Jun 25, 2018 at 20:56
  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Jun 25, 2018 at 20:59
  • Do you have access to an ammeter?
    – mike65535
    Jun 25, 2018 at 22:48
  • If you can test the battery that will tell you of there is a draw problem which is killing the battery. The other possibility would be failed ignition switch, but you basically have to test each possibility until you find the culprit. Jun 25, 2018 at 22:54
  • 2
    If your mechanic doesn't own a multimeter, it's time to find a new mechanic...
    – Ben
    Jun 26, 2018 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


If you have no dash lights or interior lights that means that either your battery is dead or there's a break in the electrical circuit required to power your car.

The test you need to do (or have someone else do) is to check the battery voltage. If it is strong, i.e. above 12.5 volts or even just 12 volts then the battery has enough charge to start the car, the problem is the battery connections or a bad connection in the power distribution. Simply cleaning the battery terminals and posts may fix this problem, otherwise someone needs to work their way through the electrical system to find what's gotten loose.

If the battery is discharged, i.e. the voltage is low, then what it means is that something in the car is using energy even when it is sitting. This is called a parasitic battery drain, and they can be a pain. Now, in a modern car there's always something using a bit of power (clocks, alarms) but these things are very miserly. For the battery to drain in 2 days there's 2 categories of problem:

  1. Something is using power when it shouldn't, for instance a light not turning off. I left my map light on one time and it drained my battery overnight, I've heard of trunk, glove and interior lights staying because of broken switches. It may be worth taking 2 minutes to test these. Cars these days often turn their headlights off themselves, but it's still worth checking you didn't leave your lights on, it's easy to do
  2. A short is draining the power from your battery. Malfunctioning radios, frayed and loose wires can draw power even when completely switched off. Testing for this involves putting a multimeter in-line with your battery and then removing fuses one by one to determine where the power leak is, sounds complicated but is actually easy to do. One thing to remember is that many modern cars pressurize the fuel system when the drivers side door is opened, you need to close the drivers side and leave it for 20 minutes before you start testing
  • It could also be the ignition switch if the battery is strong (though I guess that counts as a break in the circuit.)
    – berry120
    Jul 26, 2018 at 10:02
  • Thank you very much. I'll see if that works with cleaning the battery
    – Diane
    Sep 27, 2020 at 15:45

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