Starter, Alternator, Starter Relay I have no clue??

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  #1  
Old 09-21-07, 06:48 PM
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Starter, Alternator, Starter Relay I have no clue??

I need help

Ok I have a 1999 Chevy Prism that I'm having an issue with, but I'm not sure what is causing it. This afternoon I went out to the store and came back, there was not a single issue with my car. So tonight I go out to my car turn the key and NOTHING, there is no grinding, Clicking, nothing...............only what sounds like the solenoid hitting something (not sure), but the car will not start.........it wont even attempt to turn over. So I pop the hood to see if maybe there is something loose or maybe corrosion on the battery terminals.........but all is good as far as I can see. All the lights inside and outside of the car work fine, but I just cant start up the engine. So I'm starting to wonder if it is the Starter, Alternator or maybe even the Starter Relay, can someone help me trouble shoot this issue?

About 2 years ago I replaced the starter with a Duralast for $200 I really hope its not the starter again.
 
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Old 09-21-07, 06:55 PM
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Do you have a voltmeter or multimeter handy?

You can get a voltage reading down at the starter when you attempt to start it. You should have 12-14vdc.

If you have voltage when attempting to start, it's your starter.

Try tapping on the starter with a hammer when attempting to start and see how it works.
 
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Old 09-21-07, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by HotinOKC View Post
Do you have a voltmeter or multimeter handy?

You can get a voltage reading down at the starter when you attempt to start it. You should have 12-14vdc.

If you have voltage when attempting to start, it's your starter.

Try tapping on the starter with a hammer when attempting to start and see how it works.
Yeah I have voltmeter, but I can't get at the connections until tomorrow morning because the way it is set up I have to remove the headers to get at them Why the hell would I beat the hell out of the starter with a hammers?

I'm wondering if its the battery as well
 
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Old 09-21-07, 07:06 PM
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Starts have solenoids in them. Sometimes the solenoids get stuck preventing electrical contact. Taking a hammer and tapping the starter can free the solenoid contacts.

I wasn't pulling your leg when I told you to do it.

Take the battery to Autozone or Walmart and they will put a load test on it for free.
 
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Old 09-21-07, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by HotinOKC View Post
Starts have solenoids in them. Sometimes the solenoids get stuck preventing electrical contact. Taking a hammer and tapping the starter can free the solenoid contacts.

I wasn't pulling your leg when I told you to do it.

Take the battery to Autozone or Walmart and they will put a load test on it for free.
Well I just tried to jump the battery and nothing, but When I turn the key you can hear what sounds like the solenoid trying to engage, but that is all.
 
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Old 09-22-07, 06:07 AM
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What you likely have is worn contacts in the solenoid. If you're mechanically inclined, remove the starter and disassemble the solenoid. You'll find two terminals and a plunger; the parts are replacable for a lot less than a new starter. Had to do this on wife's previous Toyota Camry at about 150k miles and your Prizm is essentially a Corolla.

And in Hot's defense, the hammer-test is pretty common (just have to make sure you don't hit something that will break off). It shifts things around in the starter/solenoid to sometimes allow for proper contact. It's a fairly accurate way to confirm a diagnosis of a bad starter/solenoid.
 
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Old 09-22-07, 06:26 PM
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Ok so I finally got under the car today and I took out the Starter and brought it to Autozone to get it tested and it was good. So I put it back in and tightened down all connections and it fired up, but the only thing is that when I turn the key it hesitates to start for about a second, do you think it could be something with the ignition? How do you test the ignition to see if the coil, switch or other parts are bad?
 
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Old 09-26-07, 05:06 PM
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Ok here is an update, so it continues to not start, but sometimes it does. Today I went to the store and a few other places came home and went to sleep, 4 hours later I went outside to head off to work, but the damn thing would not start Here is the interesting part after trying to start it a few times I popped the hood to check connections AGAIN and when I put my hand on the starter it was hot to the touch, but no where else on the engine was even remotely warm So I'm starting to wonder if it is a dead starter, but I'm still not sure. I have just changed the spark plugs and battery all thats left is the starter or maybe the Flexplate.

I have looked everywhere but I cant find a place that sells the Flexplate nor how to replace it, any ideas?
 
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Old 09-26-07, 10:19 PM
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"when I put my hand on the starter it was hot to the touch, but no where else on the engine was even remotely warm"
This tells me that the starter is getting power; but, there is a heck of a lot of resistance to the starter motor turning. So, the starter pulls all that power and heats up.

At first thought I would assume a bad starter motor, but since Autozone tested it and found it's good, I'd consider whether there is a mechanical resistance to the starter turning: like whether the starter is aligned to the flywheel properly, and whether there excessive engine turning resistance (not sure what would cause this other than bent crankshaft, or seized piston). Also, I wouldn't keep trying to crank it when the starter gets hot because it might burn up the starter.

Sure hope you can figure it out. I know how frustrating this problem can be.

PS: I once checked the starter alignment of a car by getting under there and watching it while my son cranked the car. You might want to try this.
 
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Old 09-27-07, 05:06 AM
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When you had the starter out did you by any chance open up the solenoid and check the contacts & plunger?
 
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Old 09-27-07, 02:10 PM
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not to familiar with chevy prisms, but it almost sounds like you have a bad connection possible bad ground.
check the voltage at the battery should have at least 12 volts.
remove terminals and clean
check ground wire for corrosion, check ground at block make sure its not corroded or loose
check relay if its mounted on starter or firewall?
with test light check ignition signal should have 12 volts when key is turned, then should get 12 volt going to starter.
if you hear the starter engage but not turn over then possibly could be the flexplate , by hand turn the engine over at crank, then try starter if it starts then you have a bad spot on flex plate... good luck
 
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Old 09-27-07, 02:13 PM
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This would be a weird one, but in light of your last post, about starter being hot, there could be a remote possibility that even with the key off, something stuck in the closed position in the solenoid and is now bridging the hot from the battery through the starter (a job normally the ignition switch and solenoid have to do). Maybe your battery is now low if you check it now. It maybe drained from all those amps needlessly running into your starter.
 
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Old 09-27-07, 07:04 PM
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Starter

Starter armatures can develop a bad spot. If they stop on that spot they won't turn. otherwise they work OK I doubt that you can get to it but if you could turn it a little then try it this might tell you something. RW
 
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