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Old 12-28-2009, 01:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Solstice won't start ... engine lock out?

I'm hoping someone can help me here, this is really starting to drive me nuts, and i'm getting close to just selling this POS.

Here's some background:
First winter I had my solstice, I just put it in the garage, and didn't touch it for a couple months. In spring it started up fine.

Second year, same thing, but when I went to start it, battery was dead. Bummer. Ok, so i get it towed, and think, next year, I will make sure i start it more often in the winter, to keep the battery alive.

So third year comes around, and I try to start it after being in garage for a month. It's already dead. UGH. So I get it towed, new battery, and off I go.

In the fall, I get a Jeep, so I'm driving that more often... I let my solstice go a month without a start, and guess what, it's dead. So I have the techs at the pontiac shop try to figure out if there's a weird battery drain or something, and the best he could do was say "Cars are meant to be driven, you just have to drive it more often!"

Nice.

Anyway, on to today. My solstice is in the garage for the winter. I've been starting it every week and going for little drives to keep the battery going. Today is 9 days since I started it. And it won't start. NINE DAYS! Am I crazy, or should a car be able to sit longer than that without draining the battery?

It's odd, though, the lights and stereo come on, and the FOB works fine. When I put the key in the ignition, it doesn't even try to turn over. The little light on the dash that has a LOCK on it flashes, which I've read is a security lock out. Like somehow it unlearned my key or something? I don't know, this is so frustrating. The same thing happened last time (earlier this year) and trying to explain that to the technician was futile.

Does anyone have any ideas of what I can do? Do I really need to drive this car everyday for it to stay alive?
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Please invest on a battery tender and you will never have this issue again.
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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So you are saying that if I don't drive the car for 9 days, it should be hooked up to a battery tender?
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Just drive the damm thing.
What did you buy it for?
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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What I am saying is to take the worry of not starting if you do not drive it for a while.
I understand extreme cold weather affects the performance of the battery.
9 days is a little short to have this happened, but if you only drove the car for a couple of miles, then put it away the battery did not really have enough time to be recharged.
The same thing happens if you just start it and let it run for a few minutes, you are actually hurting it more than helping it.
I live in the South so I do not have this issue with extreme cold weather.
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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ah ... forgot to mention though, this is in a heated garage
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I would try the battery tender and then start looking for a battery drain.
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyxbar View Post
Just drive the damm thing.
What did you buy it for?
I can't drive it in the winter ... we just had over a foot of snow drop overnight!
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Old 12-28-2009, 03:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I think you guys are way off base, there is definately something wrong with this mans car

my car sits for months at a time with absolutely no problem starting, he has a drain problem or a charging problem

stop telling him he needs to drive more or needs a battery tender, he needs to get this problem respolved
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Old 12-28-2009, 04:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solinari6 View Post
I'm hoping someone can help me here, this is really starting to drive me nuts, and i'm getting close to just selling this POS.

Here's some background:
First winter I had my solstice, I just put it in the garage, and didn't touch it for a couple months. In spring it started up fine.

Second year, same thing, but when I went to start it, battery was dead. Bummer. Ok, so i get it towed, and think, next year, I will make sure i start it more often in the winter, to keep the battery alive.

So third year comes around, and I try to start it after being in garage for a month. It's already dead. UGH. So I get it towed, new battery, and off I go.

In the fall, I get a Jeep, so I'm driving that more often... I let my solstice go a month without a start, and guess what, it's dead. So I have the techs at the pontiac shop try to figure out if there's a weird battery drain or something, and the best he could do was say "Cars are meant to be driven, you just have to drive it more often!"

Nice.

Anyway, on to today. My solstice is in the garage for the winter. I've been starting it every week and going for little drives to keep the battery going. Today is 9 days since I started it. And it won't start. NINE DAYS! Am I crazy, or should a car be able to sit longer than that without draining the battery?

It's odd, though, the lights and stereo come on, and the FOB works fine. When I put the key in the ignition, it doesn't even try to turn over. The little light on the dash that has a LOCK on it flashes, which I've read is a security lock out. Like somehow it unlearned my key or something? I don't know, this is so frustrating. The same thing happened last time (earlier this year) and trying to explain that to the technician was futile.

Does anyone have any ideas of what I can do? Do I really need to drive this car everyday for it to stay alive?
It seems you may have TWO problems...

First, when you let it sit for two winters without starting it, this is abuse on your part -- or at least your expectations of wanting it to start after sitting unattended for so long are waaaay too high. Per an acquaintance of mine, THE Ford battery engineer (now retired), cars are designed to nominally sit for a month and still start (and even letting it sit that long without a charge will shorten the overall life of the battery due to sulphation).

Your second problem is either that your new battery is defective or, as you suspect, you may have an excessive drain on the battery in the idle state. You do not state what year your car is, which is to say we don't know if it is warranty or not. Either way, you (or the dealer) needs to measure the current drain on the battery when it is not running. This is easy to do (almost trivial): if under warranty, hold the dealer's feet to the fire and tell them to just do it, it will take all of five minutes. If out of warranty, you can go to one of the Chinese tool stores and buy a digital multimeter (DMM) for around 20 bucks. Lift the negative lead of the battery and put the DMM in series with it, make sure the "range" switch of the DMM is in the "DC amps" position and that the meter leads are plugged into the appropriate position for current measurement (amps). Do NOT start the car in this configuration, just monitor the idle state current). Also, watch it for a while, as some of the idle loads are intermittent, like the tire pressure monitoring system. If you spend a few more bucks, you can get a DMM with a "peak hold" feature -- let it cook overnight and then check what the peak current draw was.

Disclaimer: The battery contains a LOT of energy. Be careful not to get any tools across the battery terminals. If you are uncomfortable doing this test, get a knowledgeable friend or take the car to a battery shop. If you are snowed in for awhile, get a "Battery Tender" (INTELLIGENT trickle charger) and use it until you are able to drive. Proceed with caution and at your own risk.

P.S.
IMHO, it's a little harsh to call the car a "POS", especially if the problem originated by you not starting it for months. Even if there is an actual hardware defect, please name a car that is perfect and has zero failures.

Good luck and let us know the final outcome.

Last edited by Radio Doc; 12-28-2009 at 04:57 PM. Reason: added more info
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Old 12-28-2009, 05:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks for replying .... the last time I had the car in ( a couple months ago) they did do a complete check for excess battery drain, and couldn't find anything out of spec.
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:55 PM   #12 (permalink)
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First Question...Is the car completely Stock?? I mean have you added anything to the car in the area of Car Sound systems...aftermarket amps etc. Has anything been replaced like Alternator or Starter? Has any Heavy Line work been done in the Engine Compartment area?? (Like Intakes or Exhaust/Turbo...Head replaced or even Engine rebuild or replacement) Has the car ever been in an Accident of any kind that need the replacement of body panels, external light fixtures, any sections of wiring harness damaged?? Did any of these things happen just before you noticed this type of problem occur?? Im trying to establish a history here as well as any pattern that might be the root cause of this problem.
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:32 PM   #13 (permalink)
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well, after the first year, I did add a Pioneer stereo, so when I had it in the other month, I specifically asked them to check to make sure it isn't drawing too much power or anything like that. They said it checked out fine.
That's the only modification I've made so far.
I thought it might have something to do with the ipod being charged constantly in the glove compartment, so I left that out for a few months... it appears that wasn't the problem.

Ooh, I did hit a patch of ice 2 years ago, and slammed the side of the car into the curb. The frame was bent, but fixed. (that's one of the reasons I REALLY don't want to drive it in the winter!)

Last edited by solinari6; 12-28-2009 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:39 PM   #14 (permalink)
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have you had the alternator/refulator checked?

the regulator might be switching of the charging cycle too soon, they're probably one unit so you can't replace either module without swapping the whole unit

anyway, get that checked
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:56 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I have had the same problems with my winter driver a dodge stratus. Granted it is a different vehicle, I am, as the mechanics are, convinced that it is a transmission issue. While not yet confirmed, based on the evidence provided and personal experience, this the best answer provided thus far.
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