“You Killed the Car” or Jump Start Idiot
The image of that Ferrari in Ferris Bueller, smoldering in the ravine is a prominent thought in my mind as I contemplate what I may have done to my 98 SL500.
I keep the car in the airplane hangar. I am lucky that way in that I have 2 vehicles that are great fun to drive. In one I am literally riding on a cushion of air and in the other I feel like I am flying on a cushion of air.
I bought the car in 2007 after finding it in the used lot of a Subaru dealer in San Diego. By the time the R129 came out, I was in my late 20s. I couldn't believe that a car maker, even Mercedes, had come up with such an amazing looking car. I remembered those first visions of that car in my head for the next 17 or 18 years until I was able to get my hands on one. Even today, after having owned an R129 for some 12 years, I still feel exactly the same. There is no other car that I had seen before or have seen since that can compete.
The only place in the hanger that the car fits is in front of the wing of the airplane. The last year has been really busy so both driving and flying have taken a back seat to life and work. Any chance that I have to go to the hanger has to be used for the airplane. Airplanes die a horrible death on the ground. They have to be exercised. I want to drive the car too but it has a better ability to survive while parked than the airplane does while sitting on the ground.
A few months back, all the way back in December, I had a chance to fly. I went to the hangar and sure enough the battery in the car was very low. I whipped the Explorer around, broke out the cables, and the car started right up. Even when I was hooking up the cables, I had something itching in the back of my brain about jump starting. Of course, I did it anyway.
When I came back, I put the airplane away, started the car normally (without jump), and parked it away. Before leaving, I hooked up the Battery Minder trickle charger just as I have done countless times.
I have been to the hangar numerous times in the last 4 months but I have not been able to even touch the car or airplane except for battery charging. Beginning about 2 weeks ago I finally started to get a few windows here and there to pay attention to vehicles. The battery in the car appears to be in good shape and cranks with authority. Unfortunately, the normal immediate roar to life is not there. Here are the facts...
There is no fuel in the fuel rail. There is also no pressure in the fuel rail (as quickly as I can get there after cranking) I added a few gallons of premium just in case.
I can not hear the fuel pumps. The truth is, I am not sure that I ever heard the fuel pumps.
I pulled the fuel pump relay and fuse. The fuse is fine and I bench tested the relay. It is ok as well.
I started to dig into the fuel pump area under the car but then stopped in favor of figuring out the fault code system.
Using some of the sticky threads and the experiences of others, I constructed a code reader light.
On the 38 pin diagnostic connector in my car and not including terminals 1-3 for ground and 12v, there are contacts in terminal positions 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 21, 23, 30, 31, and 35. All other terminal positions do not have contacts. I received a response from ONLY 1 terminal position, #23. I received codes 2 and 6 which are ATA codes for the driver door and for the trunk. I cleared them both. After that, I received a 1 flash response from 23, the no faults code.
I do not even receive the 1 flash response from any of the other terminals.
That is as far as I got in troubleshooting so far. Tomorrow (Sunday), I have to fly for a few hours. Before I go, I will disconnect the battery to see if there is any “resetting” that might take place. I sort of doubt it. When I get back, I am going to check all fuses under the hood, in the trunk, and most especially the over-voltage fuse. I think I know where it is located – in the box with all of the control modules.
Also, when the key is in position 2 for testing, all of the trouble lights on the dash are on except SRS. Do all of them always stay on during the entire start sequence? I don't remember.
If those things fail, I hate to think what might be next. My car is in fine condition but do I want to spend $4k to repair a $7000 car? Makes me sick to my stomach.
Why did it start normally during the jumping incident and again a couple of hours later?
Any ideas beyond what I have written will be appreciated.