'98 Buick lasabre won't keep power

When I turn on my Buick it starts perfectly (the needles on the dash come to life, the lights turn on, and power is working well). When I go to start the engine (crank) I do not hear any sound and the car looses all power (like the battery has been disconnected). I have cleaned the terminals connecting to the battery, check that they are not frayed or any visible damage of any kind, and have made sure that the battery itself and the terminals are tight and a solid connection. It is a new battery only one month old with very minimum drainage mesering at 0.6 to 0.8. I have no ideas left of what could be causing this to happen:confused: thank you for any help.

What does “minimum drainage mesering at 0.6 to 0.8” mean, exactly?

A fully charged lead-acid battery should measure about 12.6 volts. A pretty much completely drained battery will measure about 11.8 volts. If the voltage is below 12.0 then the battery is pretty flat and very well may have started to chemically self-destruct.

The fact that you lose everything else when you crank means that the voltage is dropping very significantly while cranking. Either the battery is toast or you’ve got a bad connection somewhere.

Since the battery is new, what you may actually have is an alternator problem, which may in turn have killed your new battery. With the car off, you should measure about 12.4 to 12.6 volts or so. With the car running, you should probably measure at least a volt above that, maybe more, depending on how fast the engine is revving. If the voltage doesn’t go up when the car is running, then the alternator is shot.

If someone else can give you a ride down to ye ol local auto parts store, putting the battery on a slow charger might save it. Once the battery is charged, see if the car still fails to start and if the voltage still drops.

Another possibility is that something isn’t shutting off when it should, so when you turn off the car it’s still draining power and killing the battery. If you have a meter that can handle reasonably high currents, put the meter in current mode, disconnect the battery, and put one meter lead on the battery and the other meter lead on the battery cable and see how much current flows. If it’s more than about 50 to 100 milliamps or so then something is significantly draining the battery.

Does this car have a distributor? If it does, it could have a cracked distributor cap.

Other things to check are clogged injectors, and a clogged catalytic converter. If that car has the original catalytic converter, or even converter #2 (as opposed to 3 or 4) and it has no leaks due to wear, it could be clogged. The car will behave just like this.

Another thing is the fuel pump. If the car isn’t getting gas, it will crank, but not turn over, and if it happens enough times, it won’t crank much.

On a car that old, there are weird little things it could be as well, like a clogged weep hole on the gas tank causing negative pressure. You can check this by trying to start it with the gas cap off.

ETA: I just thought, if you can look down the throttle, and get someone to pump the gas pedal for you, you can see if it squirts gas. I’m not totally sure how the fuel system works on this car, but you should get a gas boost.

The OP’s car ain’t cranking over. As he said in the second sentence. I’ll admit his first sentence is quite misleading. So he isn’t to the point of needing to check the distributor cap or the fuel pressure or the catalytic converter.

The engineer up above gave him good advice as to what to check and it involves the electrical system.

You’re right. I misread it as cranking briefly. It’s probably the alternator. If it’s not, you just work your way up the electrical system looking for a problem.

I am very sorry, I meant 12.6 to 12.8. My bad:smack:

Does the voltage drop at all when you try to crank? You say you don’t hear anything and it’s as if the battery is disconnected.

I wonder if it could be the ignition switch, the starter relay or even the solenoid.

I had something very similar last winter in my 02 Silverado except it was intermittent. When battery and alternator checked out, I replaced the $15 start relay, as it was cheap and easy to get to. It’s one of those things I can’t be certain of, but it hasn’t failed since. Just my two cents.

What are you defining “crank” as?
For me to make sense of this you mean----it will turn over,but not fire,and if it happens enough times it won’t turn over much.

If you don’t charge your cell phone, what happens?

Same with a car. The “Alternator” charges your battery. Test your alternator and battery with a multimeter for voltage. (Plenty of how to’s on the internet.)

Your battery in the mean time can be recharged with an automotive battery charger - sold at automotive stores.

The OP’s second post says he’s reading 12.6 to 12.8 volts so he’s got a good battery.

The OP also says that when he turns the key it’s like someone disconnects the battery. To me, this means that all the lights go out, nothing starts, nothing happens. There’s no cranking.

That to me means either a bad connection somewhere or a bad starter. Find a baseball bat or something similar and give the starter a good couple of whacks. Just poke it as hard as you can. Don’t go all Louisville Slugger on it (which you probably can’t do anyway because of where the starter is located). If giving the starter a good whump gets your car to start then it’s definitely a bad starter.

The OP checked the battery terminals and wires around the battery and those are apparently good. I would also check the battery cable connection at the starter, and check the ground connection for the battery and starter as well.

At this point my money is on a bad starter, but we’ll see.

I think the battery is not charging. It is new, so it can manage to give you some power for the low current draw items. But as soon as you try to start it can’t produce the power required. Check the alternator and the voltage regulator. The regulator may be in the alternator.
At some point you probably ran on the battery alone. Drained it very low. Next time you tried to start, no go. But between tries, the battery regains a little power through chemical reaction. Soon, this will cease as well.

If the battery rest voltage is 12.6-12.8 volts, as per post #6, it’s fully charged (or damned close to it) and thus the alternator must be working.

My bet would be a bad battery cable connection, not at the battery (see post #1) but on the other end – the starter solenoid post (positive cable) or engine block (negative cable). Or inside the battery – even a month-old battery can be defective.

(I essentially agree with engineer_comp_geek, though I’d suspect a bad connection before a bad starter.)

Ground cables are notorious for wandering off of their posts in cars. Ground cables will usually be black and bolted onto something metal and the black cable that gets to the battery. They can be bolted on to the engine as well. I had a Civic that love to drop a ground cable off of the motor and everything would work except the starter couldn’t pull enough power with that ground cable removed to actually start.

Testing the battery with a multimeter is a good start…

But ALSO test the alternator - that is see what the battery voltage is with the car running. It should be jump up to 13 or 14 volts after starting the vehicle. That means the alternator is charging the battery. Also that the charging circuit is OK as well as cables connecting all that!

Found out that the problem was the negative battery terminal not getting enough ground so I replaced the terminal and now the car is running smoothly. One issue I am having is when I start the car it cranks a long time and smells hot by the time it takes. is this normal in breaking in a new terminal or could it possibly be an other problem. Thank you!:slight_smile:

In standard terminology the negative battery terminal is part of the battery; it cannot be replaced separately. I’m guessing you replaced the cable end on the negative battery cable.

Everything we’ve been talking about has nothing to do with the car running smoothly. It has to do with the engine cranking so it can start (run).

I’m nitpicking these items because it can be confusing to us when descriptions don’t use accurate terms.

Long crank time before starting, assuming it cranks at normal speed, is usually an engine performance issue. The fuel system, ignition system, and engine control system (computer, sensors, etc.) are commonly where the problem is found.

The hot smell could be from a poor connection somewhere in the battery cables. Is the new cable end properly and tightly fastened to both the cable and the battery terminal? There is no break-in for this sort of thing.