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Old 10-04-2006, 05:39 AM   #1
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Car clicks once when trying to start

My wife's car just clicks once when trying to start. The lights work okay.

It is a wet day outside.

I've read two possible culprits: The starter solenoid and the positive battery cable. The positive battery cable might have a difficult time making the right connection to the starter (corrosion?). if that's not it, there are supposed to be two copper contacts inside of the starter that are worn out. I'm wondering if it's more cost effective to replace the solenoid or just to takeit apart and replace the contacts.

Any experience/info would be great.
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Old 10-04-2006, 05:44 AM   #2
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First put a meter across your battery leads and make sure you're getting acceptable voltage.

Next, check for corrosion on the battery terminals. Even if there is no visible corosion, it is a good idea to remove the battery leads from the posts and sand the outside of the posts and the inside of the lead connections with some sand paper.

Next, make sure your negative cable has a good ground connection. It should either ground out to the engine/tranny or to the body.

If you know where the other grounds in the car are, check them.

Check the connection of the positive battery lead at the starter.

If all checks out, try lightly tapping the starter solenoid with a hammer while your wife trys cranking it. If it starts, you need a new solenoid.
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Old 10-04-2006, 05:47 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaX
First put a meter across your battery leads and make sure you're getting acceptable voltage.

Next, check for corrosion on the battery terminals. Even if there is no visible corosion, it is a good idea to remove the battery leads from the posts and sand the outside of the posts and the inside of the lead connections with some sand paper.

Next, make sure your negative cable has a good ground connection. It should either ground out to the engine/tranny or to the body.

If you know where the other grounds in the car are, check them.

Check the connection of the positive battery lead at the starter.

If all checks out, try lightly tapping the starter solenoid with a hammer while your wife trys cranking it. If it starts, you need a new solenoid.

Thanks for the quick reply

The battery and the lead connections are both brand new. I'll check in a bit to ensure that one of them didn't come loose.

Look like AUtozone has solenoids for $30, so it's not as big of a fix as I thought it would be (assuming it's the solenoid).
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:44 AM   #4
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Turn on the dome light and try to start it. If the light dims abnormally, then it's not getting the juice at some point. Even new terminal leads may need to be uninstalled and re-installed.

It could be the starter. I had the same problem and fixed it twice: I know it sounds crazy, but bear with me here...

* Get a helper
* Locate the Starter
* Have someone crank the car while you beat on the starter with a tire-iron.

It sounds rediculous, but I got a failing ambulance restarted this way in a Burger King drive-thru, and then later on my Mom's truck. A mechanic taught me the trick.

If it starts, you know the problem and can run the vehicle to where you need to go (just don't shut it off until repair time, obviously). The rationale is that the internal starter components bust-loose and need a shocking vibration to temporarily get things moving again.

RH77
edited for bad grammar
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Old 10-04-2006, 07:30 AM   #5
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If it is determined as being a solenoid switch problem , and you realy want to save the 20 or 30 bucks by not getting a new one , you might wish to try and repair it.

The heavy duty switch contacts in many solenoids are repairable.

A no cost way of fixing this switch is the strip the solenoid of its parts.
You may require a heavy duty soldering iron and some screwdrivers and small spanners.
After you get access to the switch (which is usually at the back of the soilenoid where the cables connect to) there is likely to be seen as a hard copper plate that pushes against two (maybe silver plated) bolt or rivet looking contacts.

The plate will likely look pitted and black/burnt at the contact points.

This plate is often secured by a clip of some sort or small nut.
It may also have small washers and a spring under it.

After the clip is taken off the plate can be flipped over revealing another flat copper side.

You can brush the carbon off the other contacts , but dont try and file or sand them.
If they are silver plated they will wear out faster if you do that.

You can then reassemble and it should be as good as new.


These instructions should work on most generic sorts of starter (eg 80's Gm + Ford), but of course see your shop manual for the specifics.
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Old 10-04-2006, 08:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onegammyleg
If it is determined as being a solenoid switch problem , and you realy want to save the 20 or 30 bucks by not getting a new one , you might wish to try and repair it.

The heavy duty switch contacts in many solenoids are repairable.

A no cost way of fixing this switch is the strip the solenoid of its parts.
You may require a heavy duty soldering iron and some screwdrivers and small spanners.
After you get access to the switch (which is usually at the back of the soilenoid where the cables connect to) there is likely to be seen as a hard copper plate that pushes against two (maybe silver plated) bolt or rivet looking contacts.

The plate will likely look pitted and black/burnt at the contact points.

This plate is often secured by a clip of some sort or small nut.
It may also have small washers and a spring under it.

After the clip is taken off the plate can be flipped over revealing another flat copper side.

You can brush the carbon off the other contacts , but dont try and file or sand them.
If they are silver plated they will wear out faster if you do that.

You can then reassemble and it should be as good as new.


These instructions should work on most generic sorts of starter (eg 80's Gm + Ford), but of course see your shop manual for the specifics.
He speaks true. My friend works at an auto shop and he says they charge some rediculous price to fix broken starters and 99% of the time all they do is
put in new contacts (about $0.50).
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Old 10-04-2006, 08:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaX
He speaks true. My friend works at an auto shop and he says they charge some rediculous price to fix broken starters and 99% of the time all they do is
put in new contacts (about $0.50).
Scoundrels!

RH77
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Old 10-04-2006, 09:40 AM   #8
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Hi DaX

Yeah , some shops act quite bad.

In theory . a rebuilt starter should have.

A new bendix drive (gear+clutch)
New brushes fitted and the armature skimmed.
New bushes or bearings.
All windings checked and if there is ANY error , either visual or resitance checks , it must be rewound.
General outside inspection , any case with broken mount flanges or has stripped threads must be repaired or discarded.
New or rebuilt solenoid fitted.

A shop that does ?REAL? recon starters will offer the same or better than new warranty period.

If they offer only a 3 or 6 month warranty go somewhere esle...
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Old 10-04-2006, 10:08 AM   #9
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fixed it... twas just a loose positive battery cable.

The battery isn't held down 100%, so it looks like vibrations wiggled it loose. I reattached the wire and am hoping to find a working hold-down today at autozone or something.
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Old 10-04-2006, 10:52 AM   #10
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Hi Matt Timion -?just a loose positive battery cable?

Great news. (and cheap news)

One product that all car nuts should have is ?Loctite Anti-seize? (or other brand equivalent)



As well as its obvious uses on bolt threads I find it is excelent for preventing corrosion on battery terminals.
Antiseize is a conductive grease.
Clean up the termain post and the clamp perfectly and rub some antiseize onto both surfaces.
When you tighten the terminal clamp it shoudl ooze out some antiseize.
This means there is no air (or just a tiny amount) in this electrical joint.
Without air the normal battery terninal fuzz you get is completely eliminated.

Once you clean it up and put it on you will never have battery terminal problems ever again. !!

(PS , keep it away from distributers and computer connectors)
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