My car is a mystery...

Discussion in 'Other Auto Tech' started by MrStang123, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. Ok so I dd a 92 oldsmobile cutlass. Very reliable except for the fact that it will refuse to start at random times. Now if I zap that battery with another car it will start again immediatly. When I try to start it and it doesn't start there is no sort of cranking at all. I just hear a buzz. Once it starts with a jump its fine, no sort of charging issues. I have had the battery checked, the alternator and starter checked and my mechanic still has no idea. I even checked out the fuses to see if anything was burnt out but still I have no idea. I had the alarm disconnected cause i thought that maybe there was a cut off screwing me up. Sometimes it will even start up again by itself after 5 minutes without a jump. Other times I will have to leave it for a few hours. And even after a few hours its a delayed start, I will turn the key and it may take an extra second or two for it to start. Anybody have any advise of other things I should look into? Maybe someone else had a similar problem? Thanks!
  2. New forum for this.
  3. Loose or corroded connections would be my first guess. The continuity between one part and other (or a few) might be so iffy that only by adding a buttload of amps onto it with another battery/running alternator will give it enough juice to hop the gap or push through the ohms and get it cranking.

    Unbolt your battery cables and clean them down to bare, shiny metal with a wire brush (at both ends of the wires - battery side and other end(s) ), bolt it back down, spray with some protective silicone-type goop, and go from there.

    Also, check and clean the connections to the starter and/or starter solenoid. Look for any burn-through or wear spots.

    If it was the ignition switch, you likely wouldn't get a buzzing sound, much less even a click - those sounds indicate that the switch IS telling things "okay, it's time to start cranking," but the corrosion or bad connections involved are making the system go "Unnnnhhh! I'm trying, I'm trying! Unnnnnggghhh!!!" :D
  4. Thanks for the reply! That sounds like a good idea. Maybe I should just get new positive and negative cables then. The car has 146k and I dont know if they were ever changed before I had the car. There could be rust inside the insulation or something.
  5. Great site thanks! Are the connections to the starter and to the ground on the engine similar to that of the battery? If thats the case would I have to check those ends for corrosion too?
  6. Grounds coming off the engine and going to the chassis are often (at least on Fords) those weird braided stainless strap thingies; other ground wires are just regular insulated wires like any other, generally, unless they've been upgraded or over-engineered. Just follow the positive cable off the battery back to wherever it goes (sometimes a power distribution fuseblock) and see if it branches off with any other large cables from there, then trace those to their respective destinations. If you can locate and get your hands on the starter, that and the battery would be my two first places to start checking and cleaning connections, as they tend to be the heaviest-gauge cables on the car and prone to corrosion or burn-through problems.

    If any of the wires look burnt, don't go ghetto and just try to wrap some electrical tape around it; replace the cable, clean the connection site thoroughly with a wire brush, and make sure that it's routed so that it's not laying up against anything hot or near anything it would be inclined to ground out against. If there's any thin spots in the cable insulation, current will seek the shortest path and may short out through that location (especially if it's up against something hot or somewhere it might rub through from movement or get pinched).

    On most GM starters, they've got two fat posts and one little post. One fat post receives the thick cable from the battery (or power distribution fuseblock, whatever the case), and the other leads into the starter casing, usually a braided copper wire with a crappy bit of insulation wrapped around it - for whatever reason, these often turn brittle with age and crumble, or somehow otherwise get damaged and the exposed wire can corrode, creating all kinds of fun and random headaches. The little post where a thin wire connects (basically an activator wire from the ignition switch) usually won't be a likely source of problems unless something physically damages it (road debris, clumsy mechanics, whatever).

    Whatever you do, if you find the battery terminal ends are all nasty and beyond cleaning, don't be cheap/lazy and just try to replace only the end terminals - replace the ENTIRE CABLE. The reason is that corrosion (usually from battery acid or acid vapor) tends to crawl right on up inside the windings of that cable's wire and is pretty much impossible to clean out without stripping off the insulation from the entire length of cable, unwinding the wire, and spraying/brushing it all clean (I've seen cheapskates actually try that, before, when I worked at Autozone). A decent universal battery cable (sold by length and terminal end type) shouldn't run you more than about $15 at the most from any general auto parts shop, unless you spring for one of those goofy overpriced "OEM direct-fit" cables.

    Hope this helps.
  7. im gonna reach real deep and say its going to need a starter..
    try having a draw test on the starter i will guarantee its pulling to much from the battery, when you jump it with another battery you are supplying enough constant juice to fire it...this car needs a doubt..
  8. So yeah, cleaning the terminals and all that stuff didnt work(thanks for all the great info though!). I took it to my dads mechanic and it turns out that it was the bad wiring for the alarm. The car wouldn't turn over because of the fuel cut-off which was caused by the bad wires constantly. Problem is fixed now!
  9. I hate car alarms. They often cause more issues than they resolve.
  10. +1. I know that each time I see a commercial or read an article for a vehicle with so many electronic monitoring systems for safety, I cringe. Volvo, MB and BMW although ahead of the game in electronics make me sweat.

    Reminds me of this issue we have with the Audi. The door lock actuator pump cylinder is broke. Although it it mechanical and uses vacuum, once removed the damn car won't start without it. :rolleyes: Who would have guessed? :shrug:

    Glad you got the Olds fixed. :nice:
  11. Yeah and I never noticed that the wires were cut to the alarm speaker. So I would never hear it if it was going off.
  12. Alright well the car was working for 3 days. Now today I was sitting in the car while it was on idling. Then it just stalls out. I turn the key and the engine cranks strong. But there appears to be no spark. So again it needed a jump to get it going. I have the worst luck with this thing. I guess it has to go back in again!