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I've got an old Opel (Vauxhall) Vectra 96 that hasn't been used for a long time. This spring I tested it and the motor started fine, though I had to use jump cables because the battery is completely dead.

I tried again now but when I turn the key the starter doesn't manage to turn and the lights on the dashboard turn off. It's the same even when using jump cables and I also tried disconnecting from the battery's plus pole, just in case the battery was the problem.

Is there a common cause for a short circuit that might cause this or what could it be?

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    Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! I'd suggest you recheck your jumper connection. Keep the battery in the loop, as it helps protect other electrical parts as a surge protector of sorts. Charging the battery prior might help as well. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Sep 11 '18 at 10:46
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I would replace the dead battery with a working one altogether: that excludes jumper cables and a dead battery sinking current from the good one out of the equation.

If the car still doesn't start, it's a connection somewhere. Start from the battery and check the voltage past different cables to see where you lose it.

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