Had to deliver a non-driver relative to Manchester today - about a 280 mile round trip and it got a bit fraught...
Made a very cold and frosty start but fired up without problems. About 40 miles in I stopped for petrol and then found she wouldn't start - just a rapid clicking from under the bonnet. As there was no movement from the starter I suspected it had jammed and would free itself with a bump start. Had to get a push from the pumps anyway and she bumpstarted no problem. Headed off down the M6.
Had been running with the sidelights on but light was fading so turned on the headlights and
ignition cut out and warning lights started coming on! Turn lights off, ignition on again and engine running (was doing "70" anyway). Hmmm ... Was the battery now flat causing it not to start and now this extra load too much so it shut down? But everything else worked fine like A/C (big load), front fogs (Pheww). Only other thing to cause the cut out was using main beam flash.
The car was still driving fine so decided to press on but didn't trust it to restart so decided I would just drop the reli off without turning off the engine and head back - but all the time thinking I would eventually conk out when the battery was fully flat. Can anyone tell me if that is definitely the case or will it keep running on the charge from the alternator?
Anyway - got back fine although did the last few miles in pitch dark with only sidelights and front fogs(almost useless!). Also had to do an F1 style fuel stop (hadnt filled up the first time) - popped the filler cap by turning off ignition while still moving, bumpstarted back to life then left the engine running at a Tesco pay-at-pump
Just before switching off I tried the headlights and ... they worked fine, engine kept running
. Turned off, but then wouldn't restart, almost lifeless, not even enough juice to pop the window back up when I shut the door. And the alarm seemed - confused ...
So, do I just go out for a new battery first thing - given that the engine kept running for at least 200 miles at high speed with no hiccups - or is it something more obscure? As far as I know the battery is original, 6+ yrs old, and she's been standing outside in seriously baltic weather ... Is it possible for the alternator to keep it running with a dead battery? Also noticed a distinct whine rising and falling with the revs after I got off the motorway - would this be the alternator under full load because the battery has died?
All thoughts much appreciated ...