Help me start my car.
November 2, 2004 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Car won't start. Again. [mi]

Some time ago I had my 92 Ford Tempo towed to a shop because it wouldn't start after work. When I'd turn the key, it'd click, but not turn over. At the time, I had a friend come by, and we took off the starter and had it tested (it passed). Put it back on, still no dice. After having it repaired at the shop, they said they replaced the cables.

A week or so afterwards it did it again, but only once. Now it has done it again, and refuses to start at all.

What do you think it is? I can't really afford to take it into a shop right now, so if there's any remote possibility I could take care of this myself, I'd be really glad.

This site gives a few options for what it is, but I'm hoping someone has personal experience of something like this.
posted by angry modem to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
 
When you say "click" what do you mean?

Nothing whatsoever happens: bad solenoid, engine electronics problem.
Repeated (rapid)clicking sound: insufficient voltage to starter, dying starter.
Turns over but doesn't run: engine electronics problem, fuel problem, spark problem.
posted by trharlan at 3:29 PM on November 2, 2004


Sounds like a starter problem. You can ussually pick up a rebuilt starter for less than a brand new one and it'll still have a warranty.
posted by trbrts at 3:37 PM on November 2, 2004


One click back under the hood, and a hum for a couple of seconds.
posted by angry modem at 3:41 PM on November 2, 2004


The hum is probably from an unrelated electrical component (this is irrelevant). The click is probably the solenoid or the ignition coil (this is good). Together, these symptoms suggest that you have no ground problems, but since the starter usually has its own connection to a battery terminal, you should make sure that all connections to battery terminals are clean and snug.

Have you tried to get a jump start? Because it sounds to me like your starter is dead, or your battery isn't pumping out sufficient juice.
posted by trharlan at 3:48 PM on November 2, 2004


I assume you've checked the battery?
posted by Krrrlson at 4:12 PM on November 2, 2004


That hum is almost certainly your fuel pump initializing (good thing). Probably nothing to worry about there, as trharlan said.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 4:15 PM on November 2, 2004


I've tried jump-starting (well, the first time this happened, not this latest one). The battery seems to be fine. I think I'll go pick up a new starter tomorrow. I could always return it, I suppose, right, if the starter isn't the problem?
posted by angry modem at 4:41 PM on November 2, 2004


I could always return it

Better check carefully if that's part of your plan -- some places won't take returns of electrical parts.
posted by spacewrench at 4:58 PM on November 2, 2004


One possible explanation for the "Click-HUMMMMM" is a starter that's attempting to engage the teeth on the flywheel and not hitting any. ("Click" as the starter motor pulls in to engage, "HUMMMMM" as it spins freely without engaging any teeth). Sounds to me like there could be a couple of teeth broken off the flywheel (flexplate, if it's an automatic transmission).
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:16 PM on November 2, 2004


I had the problem mr_crash_davis described last winter. If my starter happened to be in the right position it'd actually start though as time went on I lost more teeth until there were more dead than live spots. Replacing the starter fixed the problem.
posted by substrate at 9:19 PM on November 2, 2004


One other possibility not yet mentioned: a starter that slips on its mount so that the pinion gets jammed in the flywheel teeth. Or the previously mentioned bad solenoid or missing flywheel teeth. I've been lucky enough to have experienced all three. They all give the single-click-then-nothing kind of failure.
posted by TimeFactor at 10:57 PM on November 2, 2004


I had a similar problem with a 1999 Neon. I took it in and it was a loose battery connection.
posted by Electric Elf at 12:10 AM on November 3, 2004


Same thing happened to me. It was the battery.
posted by Cyrano at 10:56 AM on November 3, 2004


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