This ol' lady needs help...

grittymittsAugust 25, 2009

Year before last, after grocery shopping I got in our '94 Fleetwood (ol' reliable) put key in ignition and nothing happened! Horn, lights & radio all worked fine & none of the normal clicking that usually signals dead battery.

Unable to get in touch with anyone for help I waited a couple of minutes & tried go. Third time it started perfectly as if nothing had ever been wrong.

A few days later it happened at home. I called mechanic who'd replaced the 'key reader' the year before & he first said it had gone bad. Bristling, I asked how the dickens a $500. (labor inc.) brand new GM part from Caddy dealer could be bad after such a short time. He thought a minute & told me to try ignition key on 2nd set. Worked like a charm. Also advised me to keep a lead pencil in the car and rub it over the key, which I did on key that 'failed, and it worked! Got a sm. tube of graphite to keep in console & had no further issues until today! Neither key works now...nor does rubbing pencil over the whole key OR a lil' shot of graphite in ignition.

I'm a 72 yr old female who lives in rural area with DH who has Alzheimer's & at times couldn't tell a tail pipe from a hood ornament. I broke into tears as I sat in that darn car this evening in frustration & recollection of how astute he once was about mechanics.

Will I have to buy, charge & carry a portable charger to make mostly short, infreguent trips to town...or do any of you have suggestions to help me avoid yet another repair bill & car rental while it's in the shop? NO way we can afford a new one either.

All advice appreciated!


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There is a difference between the car not starting because of a theft system issue, and one where a "jump starter" battery is needed.

Is the theft system light flashing? If it is, then something has failed in the security system. The weak link is the two wires that go to the contacts for the key. They actually have to "wind up, and unwind" with each turn of the key. They only move about an inch or so, but eventually they do break. Some people give up and have the system disabled by installing a resistor (or couple of them) at the base of the column to imitate the chip in the key. This does let the car start pretty much from then on, but also makes it easier to steal. If the security system is at fault, attempting to jump start the car will be of no use.

Now if jump starting the car worked, that pretty much eliminates the security system as the fault, and normal battery/alternator/starter diagnostics need to be performed.

I can sympathise about your feelings with your husbands condition. It's something that I see a lot of when either spouse is gaining the burden of managing everything while the other slowly loses the ability to help. Now more than ever you need a shop that does things the right way, and yes I understand there is only so much money. That makes it all the more reason that it needs done correctly the first time. We are here to help, and at least we can solve the car problems. We are often there to support in many other ways as well, I can tell you that because I have a number of older customers who are in the same situation as you, and they know they can call me anytime, (and they do BTW). Meanwhile they also know and see my wife's decline, and realize that we are struggling along just the same. Between her Epilepsy, Parkinson's, early stages of dementia,and now hypo-tension (low blood pressure) she is getting to be a lot to handle, and she is only 50.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2009 at 8:29AM
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