The joys of owning a 15 year old car

I own a 1995 Lexus ES300.  Last Saturday, the battery died (again) on my car so I had to call AAA to get it jump started. Getting the car started is great but I still had to figure out why the battery died in the first place. The cause could either be a short circuit or a light bulb that was kept on and drained all the juice.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a dead battery problem also. Turned out a composite electrical cable inside the hood compartment was damaged. This cable, among other things, plugs into the alternator. What happened was this cable was loose and rubbing against an adjacent engine belt. While the engine was running, and the belt turning, it ripped into the cable like a band saw. If any of the wires inside touches a ground, this constitutes a short circuit and will drain the battery. I spliced the cable, got the car functional again, and thought I had solved my battery related ignition start issues. Until Saturday.

After the AAA guy gave me a jump-start, I drove the car for about 30 minutes to recharge the battery. While I was driving, I thought about it. The most immediate suspect that came to mind was the trunk latch. The other problem that I had with this car is that the trunk would refuse to close properly. Sometimes, while I was driving, and especially when I hit a bump, the trunk would pop open. There have been many times also when I would park the car and the trunk would be open slightly. So I would have to close it again. When the trunk is open, there is a small light bulb inside that goes on. Needless to say, if I parked the car and forgot to check if the trunk was open and left it like that for the entire night, then the battery would be weak the next day.

I unscrewed the lock mechanism unit of the trunk and took it out to inspect it.

There were a couple of latches inside the unit which locks onto a metal loop on the trunk cover. On each there was a metal post (highlighted in green) which looked like they’re supposed to hold something. I looked inside the trunk again and found this.

Ah…the plot thickens. This spring is supposed to go between those two posts. As the photo shows, a piece of the bottom hook had snapped off due to metal fatigue and the spring had popped out. Using pliers, I installed the spring back where it belonged.

The trunk shuts fine now. For good measure, I disconnected the trunk light. Hopefully, this will resolve my battery issues once and for all.

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3 Responses to “The joys of owning a 15 year old car”

  1. lol. My dad had a 1981 Chevy Chevette that he drove every day until 2005. In ’05, he sold the Chevette to a junk yard for $20. You read that right. Twenty bucks.

  2. Dude,

    That’s amazing. I’m impressed that you took this apart. Good work.

  3. […] two more times, poor quality being the suspect. No dice. The rear trunk latch was faulty and so I fixed that. I also unplugged the lights for the glove compartment and trunk for good measure. I also […]

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