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I drive a 2000 Citroen Xsara. It doesn't start unless I put my foot on the accelerator and a few times it hasn't started at all. Sometimes when it does start, it drives funny, as if it's misfiring. It's cut out on me when I've been driving a few times as well. This morning, in the cold weather, it reluctantly started. I drove the children to school, went to start it up again and the battery is completely flat! This has happened before and after I've left it for a day, it then starts again! Can a battery recharge itself? I thought it was the coil pack but now I'm thinking it's the alternator or battery? Anyone any ideas??? Thanks

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by (470 points)
 
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soundslike alternator output problem, and YES batteries can come back a little after a discharge if they are in good shape, take it and have the alternator tested,

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Firstly, you don't say if its petrol or diesel?

Assuming its petrol;

Being a 2000 model its most likely fuel injected so when starting there is no need to touch the accelerator as everything (air/fuel mix) is controlled my the engine management system - unlike older cars with a choke & carburettor.

Fault tracing between battery, alternator and coil packs isn't easy and requires diagnostic equipment. If there is more than one problem that skews the results it becomes double difficult.

Based on it having an engine management computer - your best (and easiest) option is to get it connected to a computer and have the error codes read - the computer logs all sorts of parameters and details of components it suspects are failing or likely to fail. A good honest small independant local garage might do this for you for free. If not, negotiate a fixed fee - I'd say don't think of paying more that £15-£20 as all they are doing is connecting a computer to your car and printing the errors - 5-15 minute job. Once you have the error codes it should give you an indicator of the problem.

If as you say the car won't start unless you press the accelerator - perhaps one of you sensors (airflow) is faulty/broken.

With regards to your battery - how old is it? did it play up last winter? Is it topped up? (if not a maintenance free type). It is possible for a battery to regain some charge, overnight for example, to give enough power to crank the engine once. But a failing battery can instantly be killed by the cold weather.

Also have you checked the battery terminals and connections? Corrosion on the connections can cause some erratic problems like a flat battery that works as normal after a short period of time.

You can't test your alternator until the engine is running and it isn't involving in starting the engine.

EDIT: If you have a home start breakdown policy then you may be covered for them coming out and reading your error codes. Or if you are away from home and it won't start, call them out and suggest they read the codes and get you started :)

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by (23.1k points)

Have the Battery & Alternator "Load Tested" but it sounds like Bad Diode(s) and Regulator in the Alternator and Coil Pack Shorting out at times.

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by (13.2m points)

your keyword here is no spark at the spark plugs. since you've dumped all this money into it with a coil pack, alternator, starter, battery, etc, that translates into what.....400 plus dollars....wow....still not fixed eh? lets pull up the schematics and find out what controls the spark to this beast....primary ignition signal comes from the crank sensor and is accompanied by the cam signal. that tells the ignition control module where the crankshaft is in relation to the camshaft. as soon as the computer knows the positions, it sends a spark signal to the coil in order to fire the corresponding plug on the compression stroke. you're in over your head on this one. take it to an independant shop or a dealership. it'll save you money in the long run. guess no more, they'll find the problem and fix it THE FIRST TIME!!!

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by (3.9k points)

Magically fixing itself when completely dead points to the battery, and that can also account for the driving funny. It's more of a hot summer location thing, but batteries made since about 1980 can become internally intermittent. The positive plate grows in length and width due to oxidation from chronic overcharge (that is where hot temperatures figure in - when I lived in Phoenix about half my battereis died that way) and the connection to the positive post breaks. The difference between broken internal connections and bad connections at the post is that external connections always get worse as oxidation from current flowing through a poor connection adds to the ongoing corrosion that started it all, while internal connections tend to spot weld themselves together.

If the battery becomes intermittent while driving it can cause the misbehaviors you mention but I suspect something else is going on... and I have no experience with Citroen.

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by (13.2m points)

You've probably got more than one fault.

The battery sounds like it's kaput (they only last 5 years or so) and there also sounds like there's some electronic/fuel delivery fault when you start it, which MAY fix itself when you put a new battery in it but might need further attention at a garage.

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batteries can discharge, and recharge somewhat, but not the way you are describing. your vehicle likely has an alternator problem and needs to go to the mechanic before you end up on a tow truck. best of luck over here in USA we could drive to an auto parts store and have them check the battery the alternator and the starter for free to help diagnose a problem, this does you know good, unless you work on your own cars. good luck hope it works out ok.

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2

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by (13.2m points)

1

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by (3.4k points)

if the battery goes dead then it,s not the coil pack. but it could be the alternator if it,s not charging the battery or it could be the battery if it has a weak or dead cell and not taking the charge.

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