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Old 12-27-2003, 11:33 PM   #1
DoinkMobb
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Default Is my starter dead or is it a bad connection?

On Friday my car barely started, before and after work. I thought it was due to cold weather in the morning. Saturday morning the car barely cranked and didn't start.

I bought a new battery from WalMart and now the lights work but the car won't start. It just clicks when I turn the key. I had my wife give me a jump and the car started. I turned the ignition off and back on, but the car wouldn't start. Should I have let the car run for a while before turning it off again?

Is my starter dead or do I have a bad battery connection? There's some corrosion around the + terminal. A neighbor came by and said I should file down the corroded terminals and that might help.
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Old 12-27-2003, 11:35 PM   #2
scoobydrew06
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you just bought a new battery and there is already corrosion on it?
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Old 12-27-2003, 11:49 PM   #3
DoinkMobb
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Crap...not the terminals, the connectors. The parts you attach to the terminals. Those are all corroded and nasty.
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Old 12-28-2003, 12:52 AM   #4
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Clean them off...Wear 'rubber' gloves....I use a scotchbrite pad and a brass bristle brush and baking soda/water solution....Don't get the baking soda/water in the battery, it will kill it....Rinse the whole area with lots of water when finished
DON'T short the battery terminals!!!!
When done, put some grease or battery terminal dressing on the terminals to help prevent future corrosion.
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Old 12-28-2003, 07:37 AM   #5
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Definitely clean the terminals and make sure the corrosion hasn't gone through the wires and damaged them.
Also it's possible the new battery you got wasn't charged, I don't know how Walmart supplies them. If you have a battery charger hook it up to the battery for a few hours to be sure it is properly charged.
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Old 12-28-2003, 11:56 AM   #6
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You can also use a wire wheel on a handheld drill to scrape away at the corrosion. Then use some di-electric grease. This grease is great, I scraped down every electrical connection and sprayed them down, has survived a winter and a half already, everything's still shiny.
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Old 12-28-2003, 06:40 PM   #7
DoinkMobb
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Ok I have a metal file and a brass brush. I should be able to clean off most of the corrosion.

But if the corrosion isn't the problem what could it be?
- battery not charged?
- dead alternator?
- bad starter?

The car started and ran when I got it jumped, so the connection must be good enough if it's getting enough power to start. And the car started, so I guess the starter is ok. Either the battery wasn't charged from Walmart or my alternator is dead.

Is there anyway to test if its my battery or alternator? Say I jumped my car again, and drove it for about 30-45 min. Would that be enough time to charge up the alternator? If I shut the car off and it wouldn't start again, would it be safe to say it's the alternator?

I'd rather buy a battery charger then an alternator.
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Old 12-28-2003, 07:15 PM   #8
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You could ask Walmart if they sell their batteries in a fully charged state.
Assuming a functioning alternator, driving the car around for a while will put some charge into the battery but not enough to charge it fully, especially if you do this at night with the lights on.
With the engine running, connect a voltmeter across the battery terminals. If the alternator is charging properly you should see around 13.5-14.5 volts. If it's lower than 13V, the alternator may be weak or dead.
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Old 12-28-2003, 07:21 PM   #9
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the battery doesn't charge up the alternator, the alternator charges the battery. If your alternator is not charging properly the check battery light should be lit on your cluster and stay on after the car is running, although it might shut off after a few minutes.

The clicking noise that you are hearing is usually the starting solenoid, which acts like a huge switch that starts the starter motor. What you are hearing is the soleniod trying to switch the starter motor but nothing is happening.

The starter motor is not working because it is either not getting enough power, or because it is broken. The motor needs enough energy to rotate the cam a few rotations to get the motor started.

Your starter motor and soleniod are working or else you car wouldn't have started when you got the jump.

Your car wouldn't need the alternator to be working for the first start if it was a brand new battery, Since the alternators job is to keep the battery charged, the battery should have had enough initial energy to get the engine started.

Some stores don't charge the battery till they are bought. It sounds like this is what you encountered. Although i would think if they displayed the batteries on the shelf they would be ready to go.

Get a multimeter and test the battery.

Please correct me if I am wrong about anything, afterall i'm still technically a newbie.
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Old 12-28-2003, 11:02 PM   #10
Tim Sanderson
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I agree, test the battery with a 10$ sears multimeter. You should see a minimum of 12.6 volts. Then start the car and check it while it's running. Should see a minimum of 13 volts.

Btw, most auto parts stores sell a 2 in 1 tool to clean off the battery terminals and clamps. One side is a female brush and the other side is a male brush. I'm sure you can figure out how to use it.
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Old 12-29-2003, 05:59 PM   #11
Subie Gal
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could be starter CONTACTS....
instead of motor or battery....

jamie
www.subiegal.com
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Old 12-30-2003, 03:07 PM   #12
DoinkMobb
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Quote:
Originally posted by Subie Gal
could be starter CONTACTS....
instead of motor or battery....

jamie
www.subiegal.com

Yup that's exactly what it was. The rest of the car was getting power, but there wasn't a good enough connection to the starter to get it going.
I cleaned the positive side contact with baking soda and water and used a file and sandpaper to get the corroded gunk off. Then I filed/sandpapered the contacts that get bolted on to the positive side connector. I also sandpapered the negative side just to be safe. Tightened everything up and the car started.
This is something I'm definitely going to include with my regular maintenance now. Thanks for the tips guys (and gal).
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Old 12-30-2003, 03:42 PM   #13
Subie Gal
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glad i could help

and glad it's been sorted
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Old 12-30-2003, 07:42 PM   #14
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Reading his last post it looks like it was the battery contacts/terminals and not the starter itself.
FYI if you coat the battery terminals with some regular or dialectric grease, or petroleum jelly, they won't corrode.
The old battery was probably leaking and/or venting gas causing the deposits to form on the terminals.
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