Electrical wiring issue...or a ghost?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

I've got a tough one for you. My daughter's 89 Ford Probe GT was possessed by a ghost at a cemetery three years ago. She parked it and turned off the ignition, but everything (lights, radio, engine) stayed on. So she drove it a short distance and then turned it off, and everything behaved as it should. That happened once or twice again, and then did not recur for two years. Instead, there's another strange electrical aberration. Every once in a while, she tries to start the car, and the relatively new battery is completely stone-cold-dead. If we put a 24-hour charge on it, it's fine again, for another few months. Any ideas? Or should I take it to an exorcist?

RAY: An exorcist will probably be as much help as we are, Dan. Electrical problems can be hell to find (if you'll excuse the pun).

TOM: Our best clue here is what happened in the cemetery. When she turned off the key and everything stayed on, that suggests that the ignition switch is faulty. And an ignition switch that intermittently stays on could also explain the dead batteries.

RAY: So try replacing the ignition switch. If that's not it, then things get a lot more complicated. It could be a relay that's sticking closed only some of the time. That'll be very hard to find.

TOM: Or it could even be a melted relay. I've even seen a situation where a melted fan relay whose contacts fused together fed electricity back through the ignition switch and kept the car running.

RAY: So before you sign an extended service contract with your local exorcist, pray for a bad ignition switch. That'll make things a lot easier for you. Good luck, Dan.

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