Starting problem. Turn the key and I just get a click

BMAC96GT

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Been chasing this problem for a year and its made me literally hate the car. When I turn the key, all I get is 1 click coming from the starter. It has progressively gotten worse over time to the point now where I can't even get the car started. It used to take me a couple of attempts, then the car would start. Sometimes it would take me 20 attempts for it to fire, sometimes it would fire on the first try. But now, all I get is 1 click each time I turn the key...cant get it to start.

Things I have done thus far:

-Got the starter checked. It tested good multiple times

-Replaced the starter solenoid

-Put a new battery in the car in 2014 and also got it tested. It tested good

-Replaced the entire NEGATIVE ground wire from the battery to the engine block with new terminals

-Replaced the entire POSITIVE wire from the battery to the starter

-Wire brushed and cleaned all terminals and connections to the battery, starter, and ground sources


I literally don't know what else to do. This problem is driving me insane. Any help or suggestions on what to waste more money on to try to get this thing to start?
 

Royal96

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Still sounds like a bad battery to me. This exact thing happened to my f150 earlier this year. Battery and starter tested fine. Put a new battery in, and it started right up.
 

BMAC96GT

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[MENTION=20901]Royal96[/MENTION] I'll probably grab a battery from another one of my cars and give it a try. I'll let you know what happens
 

BMAC96GT

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[MENTION=20901]Royal96[/MENTION] Do you think the battery could still be the problem even though I've tried jumping the car off and it doesn't make a difference?
 

mcglsr2

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Do you have a multimeter? Before starting the car, check the voltage of the battery. If it's not near 12.8 V then you have problems. Have you had your alternator tested? I don't recall seeing it in the list of things you have done. Often times the voltage regulator will go out on the alternator and it will not charge the battery correctly (or overcharge it and damage it). You could litereally put in a new battery, drive the car for a couple days, and then have a dead battery.

Step 1: get a multimeter if you don't have one ($30 will get you a good enough for this test, spend a little more and get a quality one if funds are available).
Step 2: measure battery voltage across battery terminals - disconnect the cables first! This will give the true voltage at the battery. Report back here the voltage
Step 3: reconnect cables to battery, measure voltage across the terminals again. It should be very, very close to what you measured in Step 2. Report back here the voltage

Edit: Updated Steps
 

BMAC96GT

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[MENTION=15705]mcglsr2[/MENTION] I haven't tested the battery, but if jump starting the car literally won't change how the car acts, (still clicks) could it be the battery? All I'm saying is that if jump starting won't work, then it may not be the battery, which means it wouldn't be the alternator. If a bad battery will keep the car from starting even when jumper cables are attached then I may be wrong. I just thought when you tried jumping a car off, it would bypass the battery and start the car using the voltage from the jumpers
 

mcglsr2

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mcglsr2 I haven't tested the battery, but if jump starting the car literally won't change how the car acts, (still clicks) could it be the battery? All I'm saying is that if jump starting won't work, then it may not be the battery, which means it wouldn't be the alternator. If a bad battery will keep the car from starting even when jumper cables are attached then I may be wrong. I just thought when you tried jumping a car off, it would bypass the battery and start the car using the voltage from the jumpers

I hear what you are saying, but if you are correct about the starter clicks just once and nothing after that, then the issue is either:
  • Battery
  • Alternator
  • Starter
  • Cables

It sounds like you have changed most of it. To me, it sounds like a dead battery or dead starter. Is it possible for your car to not start even though it is being jumped due to a dead battery? Yes and no. I've had it happen before. Turned out the car that was doing the jumping didn't have enough oomph to jump the car that was dead. It's hard to tell what's going on without being there, which is why I was trying to start with measuring the voltage on the battery. If the voltage there sucks, you know, at a minimum, that your battery is dead. Either need a new one or recharge it (and if it's fully discharged it might be totally done, may not hold a charge again). To try to figure this out in a logical manner, I need to start somewhere. And a good place to always start is with the battery.
 

BMAC96GT

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[MENTION=15705]mcglsr2[/MENTION] yeah that makes sense. I'll try to see what the battery reads this evening. I'm sure it'll read low since the car hasn't been ran in a while. I'll also try to pull one of my other batteries from another car to see what that does
 

JerZeyStangz

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I'm going to throw a wild card in here say that your fuel pump is acting up. Do all your voltage system tests (battery, alternator, starter etc) if those all check out good. Test your fuel pump at the rail to see if its bleeding pressure. Someone on another forum had a similar issue like yours where he couldn't get the car to start and if he did it would idle poorly and die. These cars are nearing 20 years old with the original pump. A lot of sn95 owners I know has replaced theirs because it died. This is all speculation though, by all means check your charging system first before you move to fuel.
 

Royal96

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Royal96 Do you think the battery could still be the problem even though I've tried jumping the car off and it doesn't make a difference?

100% possible. Same thing happened to me, I tried charging the battery with a charger, with another car, and tried jumping it. Made no difference, still just clicked.
As for the multimeter, I know from experience you can check the voltage, get 12.8v after a full charge, and still the battery be bad. Having the alternator tested isn't a bad idea, but swapping in a battery from another car to see if it'll start is a good start. That'll rule out the starter.
 

BMAC96GT

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[MENTION=20901]Royal96[/MENTION] yeah I think that's gonna be the first thing I try. It wouldn't surprise me if the battery had a bad cell or something
 

mcglsr2

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100% possible. Same thing happened to me, I tried charging the battery with a charger, with another car, and tried jumping it. Made no difference, still just clicked.
As for the multimeter, I know from experience you can check the voltage, get 12.8v after a full charge, and still the battery be bad. Having the alternator tested isn't a bad idea, but swapping in a battery from another car to see if it'll start is a good start. That'll rule out the starter.

For a battery to be bad and still read over 12V means that the vast majority of it's cells are bad - in other words, it has the voltage but no amps, as in cold cranking amps. Stock rated batteries are like over 500 CCA, so even if the battery had a couple bad cells (which means it still needs to be replaced) it still might start the car. For it to give only 1 click and nothing means it has pretty much all dead cells. It would need to be load tested as mentioned by Royal96.
 

BMAC96GT

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Update: I didn't test my current battery, but I put my battery from my truck in my car with no change. Turn the key and just a single click...every time.

Any other ideas? Could I have a bad starter even though it tested good?
 

96blak54

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Testing is B.S. alot of times. Not saying its a bad thing to do, but a week starter will test out fine just as an almost dead battery and week alternator. Just go get a new starter and be done with it.
 

mcglsr2

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Alright, if you swapped in a known good battery and it still didn't start, and you replaced the battery cables (is the starter cable part of that?), then I'd guess it's the starter as well. One way to test it is to hit the starter with a big mallet or hammer while trying to start the car to see if it cranks ;) Not the most safest procedure (so obviously be careful if you decide to do this) but that has worked in the past on failed starters.
 

BMAC96GT

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If anyone at some point in time comes across this thread, IT WAS THE STARTER. I had the starter tested multiple times, and each time it TESTED GOOD. Testing really means nothing. I replaced the starter and the problem was solved.

SYMPTOMS: Turning the key and getting a SINGLE click, time after time, completely inconsistent. May start on the first time one day, and may start on the 25th time one day after turning the key 25 times and getting a single click each time.

Sorry to bring this old thread back up, but I can't stand looking for the solution to a problem, and finding that the OP found the problem, but never updated the thread.
 

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