My husband passed away this past December and his car sat in my driveway untouched. He kept his car in the greatest condition and made sure it had the proper maintenance, oil changes, new tires and rotations, etc. Since I didn't touch it all this time, I saw that the battery was dead and all that would turn on were the lights very dim. A gentleman asked me if I was interested in selling it and I told him that the car was in perfect condition; no problems except that the battery was dead. He brought a battery that didn't fit and then went to O'Reilly's and bought a new battery and told me that if it didn't fit or work that the store wouldn't take it back. What then happened is he connected the battery but did it backwards which caused a spark and then when he got it right the car wouldn't even turn on at all. No lights, clicking, nothing. He told me something was more than wrong then just the battery, but I know there wasn't. He then told me that he would still be willing to purchase the car and have it towed, but said he would buy it for 1/2 the asking price. Something didn't seem right.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but with all this information, my question is: did he damage the car by putting the battery in the wrong way the first time? Would that cause some kind of short with the electrical wires?

I've since tried to buy a new battery myself, but it doesn't react at all. Any advice or information would be greatly appreciated. If this helps the car is a 2005 Honda Civic and only has 167k miles.

  • BTW - Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 0:12
  • 1
    Thanks alephzero. Even though I'm clueless about car mechanics, I was absolutely sure that the car had no problems but the battery dying from not being ran all those months. I thought it may have been some scam since this guy left a note on the car asking me if I was interested in selling it. Even after he tried to convince me that he would be doing me a favor to take it off my hands because of costly repairs, I turned his offer down. Thanks again.
    – Elisa
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 0:20
  • 1
    Have you considered presenting this person will the bill for repairing the damage he did to your vehicle? Sorry if that sounds harsh but that really is the attitude you need to take with this oaf. As for repairs, it's likely that the car will have blown some fuses which are cheap and easy to replace. It is possible an ECU is blown but there are places that can repair that inexpensively. Your prospective buyer sounds like a liability and unless he appears with the cash for the full asking price, you're best off selling it to someone else. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 8:28

2 Answers 2


Avoid this person; he is not doing you justice. Perhaps it was an accident, perhaps it wasn't.

I doubt the damage is very severe, but there certainly is damage. Most likely a component called a "fusible link" has been blown, and/or a large capacity fuse. While these things are not difficult or expensive to repair by a reputable mechanic, they do need to be repaired.

This kind of thing can happen (battery connected backwards, even some batteries have variations where the fit is identical but the terminals are located on opposite sides) so that on modern cars like yours, manufacturers put in place protections that create a repair, but doesn't destroy the vehicle electronics.

I would suggest that the cost getting the car running again will be MUCH LESS than "half the value" this charletan is now offering - after creating the very condition he is basing his reduced offer.

Play it smart and watch your back. Unless you need money immediately, I think your long-term solution will be far more satisfying if you can find a mechanic you can trust, get the vehicle repaired and running, and get the true value.

This is largely opinion-based, but I would hold my ground. Besides, getting an "estimate" from a reputable mechanic should be free. If you came to me, I would test and evaluate the damage for free, and probably quote something around $100 to replace fusible links/fuses and get it running. If the damage was more severe and not easily fixed, you'd owe me nothing. A decrepit honest old-timer like myself might be difficult to find, but I'd suggest asking around or finding a family garage in your home town - one that's been in business for several generations and decades. They are still in business for a reason!

Best of luck!


It sounds like he's trying to scam you for half the asking price.

Connecting the battery the wrong way round will have damaged some of the car electrics, which is why it won't start, but the only way to find out the repair cost is to get a quote from a garage. That could be anything from a few dollars to replace a couple of fuses, up to serious money for a new engine control unit.

If the repair cost is more than half your asking price, I suppose you might as well take his money and draw a line under it - you can't take him to court for damages and prove he deliberately connected the battery wrongly!

On the other hand if it turns out to be cheap to fix, I suppose the best option emotionally would be to sell it in working order to somebody else, rather than trying to negotiate with this (so-called!) gentleman.

  • 2
    Agree with you on this, but would suggest the OP finds someone they trust to get it right, then sell the car to someone else at full price. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 0:12
  • " you can't take him to court for damages and prove he deliberately connected the battery wrongly" - You don't have to prove that it was done deliberately. Demonstrating that he acted negligently should be sufficient. Not bothering to check that you're properly connecting a car battery likely qualifies.
    – aroth
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 15:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .