What could be causing problems with the battery, alternator and starter?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have an '88 Mercury Grand Marquis with a V-8 engine and 130,000 miles. A year
ago the battery died. I recharged it, and it died again. I had the alternator and
starter relay replaced. After that the battery was fine, but a new problem was
created. Intermittently, the starter motor will not turn off, even when the key
is removed from the ignition. If the battery terminal is removed, the starter
will stop. It never does it for the Ford service folks, and they think we're
nuts. They've replaced the starter and the ignition switch, but it still happens.
Help me. My wife wants a new car! -- Bob

TOM: A new car, eh? What's it worth to ya, Bob?

RAY: Actually, your wife is going to be sorely disappointed. I think all you need
is a new starter solenoid relay. Somehow, the one you got when you had your
alternator replaced must have been defective. That's when this current problem
started (no pun intended).

TOM: I agree. The solenoid is the only part of the starting system that would
keep the starter engaged like that. You say your starter was replaced, but the
solenoid on this car is a separate component, mounted on the fender. Get it
replaced, and your troubles should be over.

RAY: Or, Bob's wife, if you got to the paper first today, crumple this up, tell
Bob we said it was hopeless and take him out car shopping this afternoon!

Wait! Don't buy another car before you read Tom and Ray's pamphlet How to Buy a
Great Used Car: Things Detroit and Tokyo Don't Want You to Know. To order it,
send $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Used Car, PO
Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.

?(C) 1999 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One