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OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 25, 2006 03:42PM
My Mom called from my sister's and said her '97 Avalon wouldn't start. She turned it off to go in the house, but left the key in and didn't turn it off all the way. The lights were on when she came back out.

She tried to start it as I listened over the phone. At first, it made the "wrrr, wrrr wrrr" sound, but it didn't slow down and get draggy. Then it made a high-pitched machine gun clicky sound. She said the interior lights were not dimming.

She had the started rebuilt a couple or 3 years ago. I'm wondering whether to get a new battery (she's had the car 5 years without a new one) or check into getting another starter.

It seems it's done this before and I don't recall if I jumped it or tapped on the battery terminals or tapped the starter with a hammer.

It's several miles to where she she is and she can wait awhile, but I want an idea of what to do and whether to swing by Wal-mart and get a battery.
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: Ken Sp.
Date: January 25, 2006 03:45PM
Battery-that is the starter selenoid not getting enough juice
The way to test it is--Turn on the jeadlights--try to start it--if the headlights dim--not enough juice=Battery
If the lights do not dim--Ignition/starter problems
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: hal
Date: January 25, 2006 03:55PM
That sounds like when my timing belt broke - don't think that's a problem with that model...

If she's in sacramento, I've got a grade A toyota guy here...
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: JJ
Date: January 25, 2006 04:07PM
I second the battery.
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 25, 2006 04:09PM
Yikes! I was going to try to get the timing belt changed next week. It has 185,000 miles onit.

I'm on my way to look at it now.
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: BigGuynRusty
Date: January 25, 2006 04:14PM
Dennis S Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yikes! I was going to try to get the timing belt
> changed next week. It has 185,000 miles onit.
>
> I'm on my way to look at it now.


If it is the timing belt it will crank at hyperspeed.
Sounds like the battery.

BGnR
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: Racer X
Date: January 25, 2006 04:45PM
poor connections on the battery will let enough current through to light the lights just fine, but when you need to pull 5x that to spin the engine over, too much resistance, and the solenoid on the starter can chatter. (not enough voltage and current to hold the solenoid closed. It is essentially an elecromagnet and plunger)
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: Fred_Also
Date: January 25, 2006 04:46PM
Sound like the connections on the battery may be corroded.

If it was the battery, the lights would dim as you craked it.

If you have corroded connections, you get enough current to burn the lights but the high current of the starter drops the voltage going to it so it doesn't crank at high speed.


Fred Also
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: spearmint
Date: January 25, 2006 05:03PM
I had a heck of a time for months on my old car. I constantly had to beg people to jump my battery. One of the maintenance guys here solved by just tightened the bolt on the cable attachment. It is the first and cheapest thing to check. Then a gas station can check the battery for capacity with a simple gizmo before getting involved with something as expensive as starters.

Good luck.




Da Good Life
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 25, 2006 05:37PM
I got it started. It wouldn't try to start until I moved the negative clamp to the body itself. Before, it was on part of a frame bolted to the body and would spark, but didn't try to start, even after being hooked up to my running truck for several minutes. I then got the negative clamp directly on the body and it kicked right off.

She says she's never bought a battery for it since she bought it in 2000 with 27,000 miles on it, but I can't imagine the previous owner putting on a Die Hard with that few miles on it, although they must have had it about 4 years.

Anyway, I guess the battery is old enough to change, even if she bought one early on and doesn't remember it.

Does anyone have an opinion between Sears, Sam's and Wal-Mart? It doesn't get very cold very long here (close to texarkana).

Thanks for all the help.

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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: spearmint
Date: January 25, 2006 05:47PM
Rule of Batteries; if you buy an 48 month battery on the 1st of the 49th it will be dead. I buy cheapest new battery I can get because I do not want to bet on keeping a car for long and have proved this rule again and again.

Check the battery before you waste money. Doesn't the battery have two posts?
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: bangman
Date: January 25, 2006 06:52PM
Battery a good bet.

Fuel pump got me once. That was a pain.



---------
3GHz - The clock is STILL ticking Steve.
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: rgG
Date: January 25, 2006 07:10PM
Costco has good prices on batteries. We just bought one there on Sunday for my husband's car. Be sure to rough up the terminal posts with sandpaper before putting the clamps back on. I didn't at first and it wasn't making a good enough connection to start the car. As soon as I took the sandpaper to the terminals and reconnected them it fired right up.





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: davester
Date: January 25, 2006 07:48PM
If it was the battery or corroded battery terminals, the interior lights would dim when the clickety click sound occurred. If they are unaffected then it is another problem. It could be a bad engine ground, or bad starter connections but then the starter would have slowed down. The clickety click sound is almost certainly the solenoid. So, you probably have a bad solenoid.
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 25, 2006 08:18PM
Heck, the battery said "Maintenance Free", but I popped off 2 caps on the top and it needs water, I think. I looked in one side and could barely see water way at the bottom of the tubes. I'll get some distilled water for it tomorrow and scrub the posts.
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: Racer X
Date: January 25, 2006 09:01PM
Good thinking Dennis.

maintenance free usually means you can't maintain them, not that they don't need it. distilled water to above the plates, but not to the top of the battery. the plates just need to be submerged. Also, charge it for a bit with a battery charger before using it.

there may be excessive lead sulfate built up on the plates in those 2 cells. The alternator in the car then couldn't overcome the internal electrical resistance in those two cells and not charge properly.

At the auto parts store I managed, I have taken batteries that had been abused by overcharging and run dry and became heavily sulphated. I would refill some and put on a charger. 0 charge current on the ammeter on the charger. after a while 1 or 2 amps was barely flowing, after another few hours it would be charging at full rate.

I and my friends never paid for batteries while I worked there. I also kept the local Sea Scout fleet supplied with batteries that way too.

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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 25, 2006 11:30PM
More than 2 cells. I meant I took one cap off, which had 3 cells underneath it, which were all very low. I didn't look under the other cap.

Do I need to use a charger, which I don't have, or can I just crank it up and drive it after I add the water?
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: davester
Date: January 26, 2006 11:07AM
I don't know why you're wasting time and money on the battery. There's nothing in your discussion to indicate that there is anything wrong with it and it might be good for several more years yet. Take it in and get a free battery test before wasting any money buying an unneeded battery. Taking a shotgun approach and replacing parts willy nilly NEVER works in my experience.

On the other hand, the fact that you had to move the neg terminal to the frame to get it to start indicates that you have a bad ground wire somewhere, most likely an engine/body ground. This will need to be replaced or you are going to run into more trouble down the road.
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Re: OT: Car won't start. Battery? Starter?
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 26, 2006 11:47AM
"
On the other hand, the fact that you had to move the neg terminal to the frame to get it to start indicates that you have a bad ground wire somewhere, most likely an engine/body ground."

That makes sense, although the metal that didn't work I found had rubber underneath it to keep it off the radiator.

I'm not buying a new battery. I'm going to add distilled water to the cells.
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