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Discussion Starter #1
I'll give you guys the "short" version of what I'm experiencing with my car. I apologize for the length but it's kind of hard to explain exactly what I've been experiencing.

About 2 weeks ago I go to start my car in the morning and it's dead. It was quite cold so I figured my battery was on it's way out. Jump started it with my wife's car and was on my way. Had to have it jump started at work later that day when I was leaving as well. Have the battery tested on my way home that evening and it all checks out. Go to start it there at the auto parts store and it fires right up. My thought was it might be some sort of parasitic charge that was draining it while it sat for a while so I go home and do some research. A lot of people complained about having issues with the blue tooth hands free link so I disconnect that. Next morning it fires up, slowly, but it cranks up nonetheless. I figure the problem is solved.

All is well for a few days and then I start to notice my car is struggling to start up. The mornings would be the worst, where it would take me 15-20 seconds to get the car to turn over. It figured the mornings were the worst because of the cold and it sitting over night. It would also do this weird thing were the rear passenger side window would act wonky and roll down a little bit when it cranked up. When I would leave work it would still struggle to start up but not nearly as bad as it would in the mornings. If I stopped to run any errands on the way home it would start up pretty much right away from there. This would be after it running for 20 minutes or so before I would turn it off.

I drive it like this for about a week. Yesterday as I'm pulling in the driveway my car did something very odd. As I was going to shift it in to park the gear selector would not let me move it out of drive. My gear selection indicator on the dash also was not registering when I was moving it between D5, 4, etc. I put the car in neutral and put the parking brake on so I can at least turn it off and so I can go inside and get a screw driver to access the little shift lock release thing (sorry, not the most mechanically inclined) to be able to put it into park. I get the vehicle back into park. I go to crank it up and nothing. I had become accustomed to rapid clicking (dead battery), or a car that was sluggish to turn over these last couple weeks; but this time there was nothing at all. My dash lights still come on and I can still use the keyless entry but the car does not even attempt to turn over. Also, the keys are getting stuck in the ignition where I have to play with them for 10-15 second before they will wiggle loose out of there. Not sure if that is related somehow.

I did put the jumper cables back on it and tried to crank it up again. I figured it were something with the battery or alternator it should at least crank up with the extra juice from a new battery in a running vehicle. All I get is a faint clicking noise coming from the engine bay, I'm assuming it's the starter clicking but I could be wrong. Like I mentioned, I'm operating a little outside my wheelhouse.

I'm currently sitting here doing research on the internet, trying to figure out if I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get somebody else to look at it, or if I'm going to be able to tackle this myself. I was confident that if it were something like the alternator, which was my initial thought, I could do that job myself. The more I'm looking in to this though the less I feel like that's the issue. I also thought the starter was a possibility but wasn't sure why the car would get stuck in park and all that because of a starter going bad.

Any thoughts or guidance on what the issue might be would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Everything up to the "stone cold dead mode" sounds a whole lot like a bad battery. It's not unusual to get a bad diagnosis from an auto parts place.

What I'd suggest is to get your hands on a voltmeter. Cheap as chips if you get one from someplace like Harbor Freight or Ebay or Amazon. You don't need anything fancy - just something that'll read volts (which would be any of 'em). Then you can learn a lot from two quick readings across the battery terminals. First, do it with the car running (ideally after it's been running a while, to allow the battery to be charged up a bit). If you're seeing 14 volts or more, you know the alternator is doing what it should be doing, and that the problem is in the battery OR the cabling. The next check is to put the meter across the battery terminals after the car's been sitting still for an hour or two. If it's dropped below 12 volts, chances are very good that it's just a bad battery. FWIW, batteries here in Arizona last a few years max before the heat kills them.

If you're getting over 12 volts on the battery AND the car still won't start, you start looking toward the starter. What I'd do is to get an alligator clip lead, and clip it onto the big red wire on the starter, and to the negative lead (or the engine block if the starter doesn't have a negative lead). Have someone else hit the starter, and see if the voltage drops more than a fraction of a volt at the starter (those leads will be hot all the time). If you're not getting a click, move the positive lead on the meter to the small red wire, and have someone hit the key - that wire should go to full battery voltage. If it's not, there's a problem with the wiring, or (you hope not...) the immobilizer circuit. One of the quickie steps I use when tracing down excess voltage drop across a cable is to put the meter leads across that cable. You will clearly be able to see where the voltage is "disappearing" that way. Same with the connection to the battery - put one lead on the battery post, and the other on the cable connector and hit the starter (or even the headlights). There should be almost no loss - certainly no more than 0.1 volts.

I'm betting your problem IS that the battery has gone totally stone cold dead, and that the new symptoms are just a reflection of a car that no longer really even HAS a battery-like device under the hood. I'd say you're money ahead if the battery is more than a few years old to just get a new one and stick it in, and start over on the diagnosis (doing the running voltage at the battery check).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So my battery is reading 11.6 at the moment. Now, to be fair it has been sitting for the last two days without running as I haven't been able to start it. Don't feel like that really confirms the battery being the issue or not.
 

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1. 11.6 volts is basically dead. 12.8 is fully charged, 12.0 is 50% charged. All your symptoms point to a bad battery. You could also have alternator or bad connection problems.

2. Get the battery properly charged and load tested. Replace if it fails. Continue with this test if it passes:

https://youtu.be/bCFX7z1id88
 

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I had a similar problem, turned out to be the 120A main fuse had corroded and cracked.
Crack would open when car got cold.
Replaced Fuse and problem went away, fuse has never blown since.
I went through the under hood fuses and replaced them, a few of the >20A had some corrosion/oxidation.
Fuse holder looked good.
 
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