, Salem, MA

September 28, 2013

Auto Scanner: Newly repaired car still won’t start

Auto Scanner
Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: Having just gotten a new battery, starter and motor job, I assumed everything was OK. The car sat overnight in my driveway, and when I tried to turn it over, it wouldn’t start. Prior to this happening, my buddy had me test reverse and halfway ignition, but no oil, warning or check-engine light came on the dash as it normally would. Does this sound like some difficult electronic problem, like a sensor, perhaps? This Plymouth Neon has had almost $2,500 worth of work done, including a new radiator and drum brakes.

A: As there are so many possibilities, you mentioned one key fact. You stated the check-engine light and oil light were not on when you turned on the key. This indicates that you have an opening in the electronics of either your ignition switch or the computer of this Neon. When you turn on the key, the check-engine light should be on for about three seconds. This could even be as simple as a fuse. If you have an online auto repair subscription, pull up a wiring diagram for the computer and for the ignition switch. Find the power wire and the fuse that protects them. Check those fuses. If they are indeed good, check the ground circuits and the ignition switch. It does not sound like such a huge problem.

Q: I have a 1997 Ford Expedition with a 5.4-liter engine. The problem is that something is draining the battery down, and I have to charge it every morning. I replaced the battery twice, and it was fine for about eight months, but now it’s doing it again. There are no lights.

A: Assuming you mean there are no headlights, it just verifies that there is a draw on the battery that is sucking it down overnight. I had two Ford trucks that were doing the same thing. My suggestion would be to bring the vehicle to a shop that can check for an electrical draw. If no draw is present, try the following method: When you put the car up for the evening, make sure all HVAC controls are turned to off. It is my feeling that you may have a relay that is staying closed.

Q: I have a 2013 Chrysler 200 Touring with four cylinder, 2.4-liter engine. I have 4,600 miles on it. The owners’ manual says to perform oil changes at 10,000 miles or yearly, whichever comes first. I was thinking of doing oil changes at 5,000-mile intervals. I’d really appreciate your opinion on this.

A: I have found the most success with oil changes every 3,000 miles. I feel 5,000 miles is pushing it, and 10,000 is over the top. The cars with the highest mileage tend to be those that have their oil and filter changed every 3,000 miles, or every three months.

Car Care Tip: It is never too early to start preparing your car for winter driving.


Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears every Saturday. Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to