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Ok, so I’m totally new to this and know almost absolutely nothing about cars so bear with me here…
I have a ’02 Beetle that I love and adore, but last Friday night I was driving to a friend’s after work and I noticed that the battery light had flickered on for a split second and then immediately went off. I didn’t really think anything of it, until about 5 mins later it happened again. I got to my friend’s, shut off the car and tried to restart it to check and see if it even would. Of course, it would not :( It just kind of made a click-click noise when I turned the key. All the interior/exterior lights plus the radio were still working though. I had my friend take a listen and with what little knowledge he has regarding cars, he determined it had to be the battery. So we jump my car and it starts up…let it run for awhile…and then turn it off and then on again to see if the battery just needed a charge. Again, it would not start. At that point I say screw it…I will let it sit in his driveway until I get paid the following week and can go purchase a fresh battery. Last night I go buy a new battery, install it, and the car starts up no problem whatsoever! I drive it home about 10 or so miles away and everything is all good, UNTIL, I pull into my condo complex and open the gate to park the car…when I hit the bump to go through the gate, it felt like that car had completely died and the battery light along with the check engine light came on for a second and then went off like nothing. The car itself though never actually shut off. I pull into my parking spot, turn off the car, turn it back on to see if it would start and it did without hesitation. Thinking everything was kosher, I go to start it this morning to go to work and it was completely dead. No click-click/interior lights/radio coming on, nothing! I pop the hood and wiggle the battery cables a little to see if maybe it was just a loose connection from when I put the battery in. I try once more to start the car…it makes a sound like it wants to turn over, but doesn’t. At this point, the interior lights come on and the radio comes on in safe mode. I bought the car used so I don’t have the code for the radio so I just decided not to mess with it in case something bad happened. Can the radio being in safe mode cause the car not to start all of a sudden? I’m completely disheartened by this whole situation because having no car really sucks! Any suggestions on what this might be?
Thanks!
 

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5/23/10 <3
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If your battery light comes on, then its likely an issue with the alternator. Could be dead. If the alternator isn't working properly, it won't charge the battery when the car is running and once the battery is drained too far, it won't be able to power everything required to keep the car running.
 

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SB is absolutely right , and to expound a little further...

The car will run, on the battery alone, until the battery charge is consumed, this could be even 20-30 miles at night with the lights on, if the battery is good and fully charged. The vehicle, once started, will also run on on a properly functioning alternator alone, if the battery were to then be disconnected. It does in fact seem like you have a bad alternator. It can be easily teated, in place, with the car running, by anyone who has the proper testing equipment (most Corner Auto Parts) and it's usually free. DO NOT disconnect the battery with the engine running to do a shade tree mechanic test of the alternator, you can damage electronic componets. Did you have the old battery charged, checked, and verified that it wasn't any good? Sadly, you probably didn't need a battery.

I would suggest, borrowing or buying a battery charger, put it on a slow overnight charge, and tomorrow, drive it to get it checked. Figure you will be able to drive 20-30 miles if it's fully charged. I'm like 99.9% sure it's your alternator. But the intermitent alternator light is a little confusing, It should have come on and stayed.

Did you wire brush the battery cable connectors when you changed the battery. Dirty/corroded connections may possibly be causing this. Ditto the connections on the battery fuse block, in this picture, it is the upper and almost out of the picture lower connections to the left side of the block. If it looks like the upper left connection in the picture you may have other problems.



MORAV
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for your responses...

Sadly, I did not have the old battery charged or checked initally to see if it was no good before replacing it with another. errr. Again, I am pretty much clueless when it comes to anything car related and was hoping this would just be an easy fix with a new battery.

I've had nothing but issues with this car since I bought it, but just can't bring myself to get rid of it.

Will an alternator be something that I can just pick up at any auto parts store? Is it easy to self-install if I were to have my dad do it or something?

I did not take a wire brush to the cable connectors or the fuse block when changing out the battery. Is not tightening the connectors well enough also a possibility the car won't start?
 

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Sadly, I did not have the old battery charged or checked initally to see if it was no good before replacing it with another. errr. Again, I am pretty much clueless when it comes to anything car related and was hoping this would just be an easy fix with a new battery.
But it could have been an even simpler fix if it had simply been corroded or loose connections. But no matter, no crying over spilt milk...


I've had nothing but issues with this car since I bought it, but just can't bring myself to get rid of it.
While it's true these cars are somewhat problematic, you have the Org here to help you through these problems, many things have a very simple, quick, easy solution. However, you can't go about fixing things by replacing parts until you find the cause. It's not cost or time effective.


Will an alternator be something that I can just pick up at any auto parts store? Is it easy to self-install if I were to have my dad do it or something?
Once you determine that is the problem. Call around, locate one who has it, in stock, and make sure that they have the equipment to test yours when you get there. Then, with a fully charged battery, go there, have them check yours, and if that is the problem, proceed. They will charge you a "core" deposit, after you have changed yours out, you take the old one back and get your core deposit back. It is very easy to change, three wires and a few bolts. Anyone who knows which end of the wrench to use should be able to do it. We can walk them through it. OR if you want to learn how to do the more simple maintenace and repair items on you Bug, you are in a good place to learn. There are a lot of Bug owners, male and female around here, who have learned how to do the basics, and armed with this little bit of knowledge, no longer feel so helpless nor have such a fear of being taken advantage of.


I did not take a wire brush to the cable connectors or the fuse block when changing out the battery. Is not tightening the connectors well enough also a possibility the car won't start?
The battery post connections are slightly tapered, so if they are clean, and you install them twisting back and forth a little as you push, you would not even have to tighten them up to get a good connection. However, it may not remain so, so yes you do have to tighten them. Pick up a battery post cleaner

at Wally World or Sears Auto or a corner auto parts, go here for a quick read
How to Clean Car Battery Terminals | Cleaning Guides
Also, look at the inside of the battery fuse box (pictured in the earlier thread) that is on top of the battery and make sure the wires are undamaged, and that the connections are tight and show no signs of corrosion or melting.

Probably one of the best things you can do toward solving problems is reviewing your Owner's Manual when ever an indicator or warning light comes on. That alone would have kept you from buying a new battery. So many think the light you saw indicated a bad battery, it didn't and doesn't, and can't. It tells you there is a charging issue with your alternator.


I have printable .pdf's of that section of the Manual for different years (they are different from year to year and model to model) here
http://newbeetle.org/forums/new-member-forum/51021-newbie-welcome-kit.html
that you can print and throw in your glove box for quick reference. If your year isn't there, let me know what year you have and I'll p/m it to you.


MORAV
 
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