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Discussion Starter #1
I'm showing 11.65 volts at the battery. Battery, alternator, starter, cables, and (now) the solenoid have all been replaced in the last couple years.
Go to turn the key, it tries to start, makes that grinding sort of I-think-I-can sound, click. A couple times over the last couple weeks I've walked it to the edge of the garage and roll-started it down the drive way, and it starts fine. The other day it started to make that whirring sound once it started that sounded like the starter gear was stuck in the spinning flywheel. I shut it off, go to tap the starter with a hammer to hopefully release the gear, and the starter moves. A lot. Upon further inspection, the starter bolts are backed about an inch and change out of the bellhousing, letting the starter dangle. Wow. tighten them back up, and now I'm back to the think-I-can sounds with no starting. I changed the solenoid for kicks to no avail. All the cable connections are clean and tight.
Thoughts? Does the car need a minimum of 12 volts to even turn the starter? The stereo and all it's lights, even though it uses little juice, still comes on as normal.
 

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The starter resuires considerably more electrical "oomph" (amps) to turn the starter than to run the stero, lights etc. If you're showing fewer than 12 volts it MIGHT spin the starter enough to start the car. A better test is a load test, using a funky old chrome metal load tester. This will show whether the battery will produce sufficient current to spin the starter motor.

Have you tried charging the battery?

Also make sure the battery cable terminals and posts are clean.
 

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11.6 is somewhat low. 12.5 is best. I know it sucks to reset your radio all the time, but if you don't drive the car a lot it would be best to have a kill switch on the battery. If it sits for 2 weeks or a month at a time then the little bit of draw that a radio uses will kill a battery. I would at least get a small battery maintainer to put on it every time you park it just to keep the juice up on the battery. If you do that then you wouldn't need a kill switch.
 

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Sean, the chances of this are lower but since it's a brainstorming thread what the heck. Have you checked the teeth on the starter or flywheel? Just thinking, why would the bolts back out that much? There may be more stress on the starter bolts due to something getting jammed, wrong spacing or something else.
 

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Maybe a dumb suggestion. What happens when you boost it? If it boosts ok, the solenoid and starter, key switch wiring downstream etc are fine and battery is proly bad.
 

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When starters go bad some times they pull too many amps. This cause the battery to drain quickly and takes it awile to fully recharge. Some times its even to much for the battery to even handle and can kill a battery or not even turn the engine with a full charge. A good parts store or shop can bench test your starter. Some can even test it in car if you can get it there. When the starter pulls too many amps it makes it seem as if the battery is dead.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Well, I did some more mulit-metering, and this is what I found. Car is "dead" with 11.5V battery, further trying to start it gets it down to around 10 until it just stops. Push starts great, meter reads around 12.5-14.5 while running, depending on idle vs revved. Shut car off, meter reads around 12.8, then goes down a tenth of a volt at a time, and then gets back down around 11.5 withing a couple minutes.
I took off the negative cable, then put the leads on the cable and the post, it read 10.4 or so. I pulled each fuse at a time, nothing happened until the last fuse, one of the two "radio" fuses, and it dropped to 9.4.
Since it didn't drop to zero, it means that other than the radio clock, I still have an existing draw on the battery while it's off, right? (Sorry this is so idiot-sounding and redundant, electronics is not my strong point, and I'm learning new things about it all the time... Just want to be thorough.) So, it's got to be something run right off the battery, like the headlight motor relays, amps, or whatnot? So, if I were to pull the wires off the solenoid hot terminal (where I have those things tied in to the battery power) one at a time, the one that drops the voltage down to zero is my problem, right? What should I be looking for as an issue with that wire? Contacting metal, or what? Nothing (that I know of) is on, like the console lights that have been noted. I would think that if a 12v wire touched metal, it would just spark, or catch fire, or something...

I'm going to get the battery (a two-year-old Optima) load-tested tomorrow. I wouldn't think it's the starter since it recharges fine once it's going, and if you start it back up within a couple hours it starts on it's own okay. Maybe I'm wrong.

Thanks guys!!
 

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possible dead cell but go back a couple months in hot rod magizine---very good article on recharging gel-cell batteries that are really dead it really takes a special charger but you can try this---put the battery on 6volt for at least 12 hrs--then on 12 volt---see if it increases the voltage---also think about making your own cables out of 2/0 welding cable--really makes a differance
doctordesoto
 

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You probably also need to keep an eye on the alternator.
Bump starting it and then driving it with a dead cell taxes the charging system a bit.

I'd also agree that the battery has an issue. If it's only a year old, then you should have some warranty that will pro rate out and cost you very little to replace it with a new one.

Locktite is your friend, btw.
 

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Now it's been 6 hours, come on Sean, what are you doing.... you are keeping us all in suspense on this one. :sun:

(Just pulling your chain)
Leon started it.....

Seriously though, I would be willing to bet it is the battery as well.
 

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Sean took the car and it croaked in a very bad neighborhood?
 

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There aren't too many bad neighborhoods in Seans area, but the Chinese mafia has been known to roam to streets of Gwinett county.
 

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Well Sean's car ALMOST looks like it could be used in Green Hornet... LOL
 

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They don't give those OPTIMA batt's away - so get the warranty for sure if it's bad! If that's no the case - you have something drawing it down and it sounds like you are on the right path.

As long as there is resistance between the "hot" and ground/return (like a light blub, radio/memory, etc.) it won't arc/spark much. A short on the other hand is "hot" to ground and will spark pretty dang good. You can find shorts with your meter in the ohm position and measure for resistance - touch the leads together = short and no resistance. Touch the leads from hot to ground - If there is resistance that means you going through something, if you got a short - you need to track it down. Just because you have resistance doesn't mena it's good though, just less likely to be bad ----depends on many things. That's the down and dirty version. (coils and motor windings can be tricky to tell without experience - they can look shorted and still be good) If you suspect your starter some parts stores can test them for you. Tapping it with a hammer is pretty good though --EXCEPT for high torque starters - t hey have ceramic magnets and you don't want to crack those - easy to do!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Okay. Got battery tested, but they had to trickle-charge it first, then test it. That took overnight. They said it was good, so I just took it home and put it back in. I did find, though, that while messing around with the connections at the solenoid, the wire that goes to the start terminal pulled apart at a butt connector. It was one of those "now, why did I do that?" moments, and this time I soldered and shrink-wrapped it. I also found that one of the wires in the headlight motor relay had pulled off the terminal and was dangling around with the other connections. I don't know if either one of those was my main issue, but the car started this morning, and the voltage dropped .02 of a volt since last night. I drove to work with the amps off this morning, and everything seemed really good; 14.5 volts the whole way to work. I turned the amps back on before I came home or lunch, so we'll see what happens from here. I suspect it may be cured.
Thanks guys!

Oh, and I did find out that Optima has a 3 year replacement warranty. I was hoping that the battery was bad. I like NEW things!
 
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