Post-accident starting problems in 07 MCS hatchback
Since buying this wonderful car a few years ago, I've searched for answers to various questions in this forum and have been impressed by the knowledge of the community.
I November I was rear-ended at an intersection. At first the damage seemed to be superficial, but there was significant body damage in the rear of the vehicle. Most of the panels in the back half of the car ended up needing to be replaced. However, the most significant initial problem we had was that the car would not start a few days (and car trips) after the accident. It sounded like it was very close to starting always, but never did. The adjustor speculated that the rear damage made it impossible for the car to detect that the rear hatch was ever closed, so the battery would drain from lights never turning off. However, it could not be jumped by anything, which seemed peculiar.
We had it towed to a repair shop. They said the engine was flooded with fuel and after they drained the fuel, it started with no problems. We were on vacation at this point and the repair shop reported that they started up the car twice a day for over a week (to move it in/out of their shop at night/morning) with no problems. So, we got the car back intending to now pursue the body work. But... after a couple days it would not start again. Same thing, couldn't be jumped, etc. We had it towed to a MINI location this time figuring it might be something a MINI specialist might figure out. They concluded that the trunk not closing properly was not only keeping little lights on too long but it was also preventing the car from fully turning off, draining the battery significantly. So, they disabled that and the car was starting fine again. Great! Now, on to the body work...
Nope. Wouldn't start again! So we thought the starting problem just couldn't be resolved without fixing the body damage first so that the car could detect that the trunk was closed. So, two weeks later, everything was fixed and the car looked brand new. We did a few big drives in the car and then one morning it wouldn't start again.
At this point, I am thinking that there is something wrong with the battery or alternator. My hunch is that all these repair places charged the battery in their shops but that the battery would just drain from use without being appropriately recharged during driving. I am hesitant to have the car towed 150 miles again so that MINI can investigate their problem once again. If the problem is indeed battery/alternator related, I'd rather just give a local place a shot at detecting the problem and fixing it. However, I am NOT car savvy at all and while I'm frustrated that the battery/alternator doesn't seem to have been pursued as a source of the problem, I'm open to being told that my hunch is not very likely and that something else might be going on.
Before I bring it in again, I would like to see if you all can help me brainstorm some possible causes of this problem so that I can ensure that everything has been tried/checked/tested before bringing it home again. We are a one car family and we live in the mountains. When the car doesn't start, it is a significant inconvenience and the expense of constant rental cars is adding up (and is unlikely to be completely covered by the at-fault party's insurance, I have been told).
I probably could have been more concise! But... help? Any ideas would be very much appreciated.
why not try a new battery first?
from the constant recharging some of the cells in the battery could be dead, thus not allowing the battery to get fully charged and not lasting as long as it should, i have had this problem on my motorcycles alot since i dont ride them on the winter and dont trickle charge them.IMO try the battery first being the cheapest part to replace