Disconnected, reconnected battery now car will not start

Tiny
FLORIDABRAD
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 CHRYSLER CIRRUS
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 172,000 MILES
I unhooked the battery to clear the check engine light. Left it unhooked overnight. When I hooked it back up, the car will not start. I read that it is likely the anti-theft feature preventing the car from starting. I tried a few suggestions like unlocking doors, re-locking them, manually and remote, still will not start. Anything else I can try before calling AAA?
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Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 AT 11:35 AM

7 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Hold the accelerator pedal down 1/4". If the engine starts, idle speed is going to be too low. Drive at highway speed with the engine warmed up, then coast for at least seven seconds without touching the pedals. That will meet the conditions for the Engine Computer to relearn when it must be in control of idle speed.

What did you find for diagnostic fault codes?
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Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 AT 2:41 PM
Tiny
FLORIDABRAD
  • MEMBER
There were no codes. The check engine light came on about a year ago. I forget the code but it had something to do with a misfire. It no longer reports a code but the light stayed on. It has been driving great this whole time. In fact, it was starting no problem until I went and unhooked the battery. I tried your suggestion and I get nothing. It does not make a noise whatsoever. The interior lights come on nice and bright when I open the door. The heater fan will come on, but the radio will not. The only dash lights that come on when I turn the key is the odometer/gears and a red brake warning light. That is it.

One other thing to include. Sometime ago the horn started to stick on. Instead of having it repaired, I had the horn relay pulled. Not sure if that helps figure anything out, but thought I would mention it just in case.
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Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 AT 5:51 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
If the check engine light was on, there was a diagnostic fault code in the engine computer. That got erased when the battery was disconnected. The goal is to not disconnect the battery or let it run drained, otherwise that valuable information and all learned data will be lost. The fault codes indicate the circuit or system that needs further diagnosis. Erasing the codes does not make the problem go away.

There is a bigger problem when driving with the check engine light on. First, that means there is a fault code set. There is always a long list of conditions that must be met for a fault code to set, and one of those is that certain other codes cannot already be set. The computer compares various sensor readings and operating characteristics to determine when something is wrong. For example, it knows that when the engine has been off for more than six hours, the intake air temperature sensor, coolant temperature sensor, and battery temperature sensor had better be reading the same temperature. If a fault code is set for one of them, the computer knows it cannot be trusted as a reference, so it suspends any self-tests that use that defective circuit for comparison. If a problem develops in the other circuit, it will not be detected because that test is not taking place. It is not until the first problem is repaired that the suspended tests resume. That can cause a lot of frustration among car owners and their mechanics. The mechanic only knows about the stored fault code and has to go by that when preparing a repair estimate. Once that is solved and you leave with the car, the suspended test resumes, the problem is detected, the check engine light turns right back on, and you incorrectly assume the first problem was not diagnosed correctly or was not repaired correctly. The mechanic has to start all over.

The other problem with ignoring the check engine light is a lot of problems are very minor with inexpensive solutions, but they can turn into expensive repairs if they are ignored. How will you know if one of those has developed if you are already driving around with the warning light on? The simple misfire you mentioned will send unburned air and fuel into the exhaust system where it will burn in the catalytic converter and overheat it. Most commonly the cause is a worn spark plug or bad spark plug wire, but the catalyst will melt in the catalytic converter and become plugged. That is a real expensive repair that can easily be avoided.

What has confused the issue is your description of "does not start". The common symptom after disconnecting the battery is the engine cranks just fine, but the idle speed is too low for it to run. That is where holding the accelerator pedal down a little will get the engine running.

Now you are describing a no-crank condition which is quite different. The anti-theft system is not involved in that. One common cause is a defective neutral safety switch/range sensor, but it sounds like you have an even more common problem. It is real common for fuses to blow when reconnecting the battery or when connecting jumper cables, from the current surge of the memory circuits in multiple computers charging up. The clue is the dead radio. I would start by checking them in the under-hood fuse box, and inside the car.
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Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 AT 6:59 PM
Tiny
FLORIDABRAD
  • MEMBER
Thank you so much for the detailed reply. I will check this out and let you know. Thanks again.
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Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 AT 7:22 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
The wireless internet system I am hitch-hiking on is going to be turned off in two minutes. I will be back tomorrow to see how you are doing.
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Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 AT 7:28 PM
Tiny
FLORIDABRAD
  • MEMBER
It did in fact turn out to be a blown fuse. Also, the check engine light is still on, so I will heed your advice on that as well. Thanks again for your help!
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Thursday, January 11th, 2018 AT 11:06 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Please keep us informed of your progress.
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Thursday, January 11th, 2018 AT 7:18 PM

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