Starting problem -troubleshooting assistance help

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  #1  
Old 12-10-12, 04:45 AM
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Starting problem -troubleshooting assistance help

Hi all,

I have a 2002 PT cruiser that has developed an issue again. HEre is the background. ABout 4 months ago had an intermittant problem. YOu would turn the key and nothing would happen. NO clicks from solenoid or anything. IF you turned the key several times it would finally start. Did this once in while several times over a week or two. Went in and found both terminals of the battery completed covered in white powder. NEver seen terminals so bad and you couldn't even seen them. So I took baking soda/water cleaned them off put new coonectors on and cleaned the posts. Everything looked new again. It has been fine for at least 4 months now with starting every day no hiccups. Until this weekend went in an turned key and nothing ( dash indicator lights come on) no clicks or anything. Turn the key back and forth about 6 times and finally started. OKay the rest of the weekend through several starts. Went to start this morning and this time I turned key and seemed like there was a slight lag. Turned key and heard solenoid click and it seemed like a second later the starter turned and then started vehicle. Strange, need to know what to check next. I was thinking of going under and checking connections at starter motor. CAn anyone advise how many leads there are on starter and how they are connected ( bolted , PLug in etc.) and how best to check connections. Battery connections still seem tight and no more corrosion present. Also, looks like in the manual it shows the starter relay in the PDM unit. MAybe this could be bad as well. Anything else that rings a bell here that I should check. I was also going to go to Advance auto and have them put there load tester on it. Thanks for the help.
 

Last edited by stickshift; 12-13-12 at 09:06 AM. Reason: fixed typo in title
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  #2  
Old 12-10-12, 05:12 AM
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Did you check your battery when you cleaned the posts?
Our van was acting similar when the battery was starting to go. If you left it sit for any length of time (couple days) it wouldn't engage the starter.
Batteries just go with age. Started fine for me all winter, then all of a sudden during the summer, it started acting up.

How old is the battery?
 
  #3  
Old 12-10-12, 05:17 AM
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The battery is 3 possibly 4 years at the most. I plan on checking with a multimeter over the next couple days to see. I'll check the voltage on the battery prior to starting each time to see if I see a pattern when it does it and it it is low. The dash has a battery indicator only not a gauge and I have never seen it on. Not sure how accurate it is though.
 
  #4  
Old 12-10-12, 06:56 PM
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1. you did not lubricate terminals with dielectric grease
2. you did not seal terminals with electrical sealant spray
3. you diod not set terminals all the way down to the battery surface
4. you did not put little grease soaked washers onto the poles either.
Hence, though it "seems" to be all right, it may not be.
5. sounds like ignition lock is going south.
6. it is very possible, alternator is not giving full charge anymore. Check with voltmeter.
 
  #5  
Old 12-11-12, 05:10 AM
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It's very possible the battery or alternator is the issue, even at that age.
Check the voltage of the battery prior to starting and then again when it's running.
If the battery is close to 12V or below before starting, then mid 13V or closer to 14V when running, the battery needs attention more then likely and should be tested (most auto supply stores will test for free).
Also check all your cables going from the battery to the fuse/relay box and to the start. If there are any corrosion, clean and/or replace any connectors.
 
  #6  
Old 12-11-12, 06:12 AM
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I cleaned the battery posts very well with baking soda/water and then put on the red battery post grease from the auto store. I believe that keeps corrosion at bay. I didn't use the felt washers under the posts. I double checked tightness of battery terminals. I also checked the battery voltage after the car was driven about 8 miles and sat for about 5 hours. The voltage with a digital meter was 12.45 v. I will check the voltage when running next tiome to see if closer to 13v or so. I'll check batt voltage next time it won't start to see if issue. Thx
 
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Old 12-11-12, 06:45 AM
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I never put that felt piece on the terminals. To me, it's a spong which will hold the moisture and dirt longer to allow for more corrosion.
The 12.45V is ok. Not great but ok. It doesn't eliminate the battery being on it's way out.
 
  #8  
Old 12-11-12, 10:17 AM
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Okay, so here is the deal. Car is now stranded in the plaza across from work. I tried to start it a dozen times or so. The battery voltage is 12.37 volts. When you turn the key, you here the solenoid clicking, but that is it. I also hooked up one of the Craftsmen power centers I have that has the jump start feature on it but diudn't help. With that I am assuming the starter relays in the PDM are good as well as the key switch as well. sounds like it could be the starter solenoid, starter itself or main power cable to the starter. Any other thoughts before I get it towed. Thx
 
  #9  
Old 12-11-12, 10:43 AM
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My 3yrs old fixed mine when it did that by hitting the starter with a rock (we where in the bush stuck).
If you have help available, crawl under the vehicle near the front center and locate the starter. Have your help turn the key to start the vehicle. Listen for the starter to buzz or similar (sorry, not techical when it comes to noise).
If the starter sounds like it's trying, it may be simply stuck and could use a few love taps with a tire iron or hammer. DO NOT beat it to death.
As mentioned, my 3yrs old was able to fix mine by tapping near the buisness end where I couldn't get my hand in. There is a thread about it on the Chat area.

Edit:
Here is the thread of when my 3yrs old fixed the van.
http://www.doityourself.com/forum/ge...king-home.html
 
  #10  
Old 12-11-12, 02:32 PM
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It sounds to me like the cables are corroded underneath the plastic coating. Replace battery cables.

While you can not see the corrosion, its probably there. With the troubles you are describing, low or no voltage is getting from the battery (which is good), to the starter or solenoid because the cables are corroded with that same white powder you cleaned from the posts last month.

Corrective action needed: Replace BOTH battery cables... especially the ground cable. Make sure you get both ends of the ground cable tight & grounded well when replacing.

And... make sure you put the grease, spray & other protective stuff on the ground cable. Not just the positive cable. Actually, the ground cable corrodes before the positive does.
 
  #11  
Old 12-11-12, 05:39 PM
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hit starter with tire iron? to crack it? If you have stuck bendix, aka solenoid, you hit it with hammer handle or mallet.
did you actually try to jump start it off running vehicle?
 
  #12  
Old 12-13-12, 09:03 AM
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THanks all, here was the issue. Had AAA come out when it wouldn't start to see what they could do tried jumping and whacking starter with a pipe. No luck, just a click. They say it is definitely the starter. So while they are calling tech. for a price to fix ( didn't know they actually do the repair on spot for competive prices)I decided to grab the cable cable where it is crimped to the starter post and wiggle it back and forth. Presto, car starts up. Started several times and was fine other than the starter seemed a bit week. The guy tells me the starter is still on its way out. Drove it home and replaced wire with a new battery cable from batt. to starter and cleaned posts. Starter sounds great and not weak anymore. Problem hopefully will be solved and saved me $300 for a new starter install, Yeah. Merry Christmas to me!Merry Xmas to all!
 
  #13  
Old 12-23-12, 02:02 PM
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You did a very good thing. It takes enough time to gain the experience needed to weed through the myriad of causes for this problem. Rest assured that your case was the very basic first thing you would go to in the process of elimination of the cause. Good job
 
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