Mechanics

WHY WONT MY CAR START AND WHY DID THE ENGINE START SMOKING?

1990 Pontiac Sunbird • 200,000 miles

I went to start my car yesterday and it would not crank. It didn't even try to turn over. No clicks or nothing. I thought it may be the battery so I got a friend to try to jump me off but when I tried to start the car with the jumper cables attached, it did the exact same thing except smoke started coming from the engine, still not making any noises when key is turned. I'm pretty mechanically inclined but I have no idea what this is. I might try installing a new battery to see if that helps. I just can't explain the smoke from the engine. Now when I turn the key nothing happens at all. No noises, no smoke, no nothing. Please help! : O
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Quickcat
September 20, 2012.



You know we can't see it over a computer so your going to have do the searching. A fuse link wire tapping off the larger starter terminal could have burned open. You could have a loose or corroded battery cable. Even a shorted starter is rare but possible.

The place to start is by measuring the battery voltage with an inexpensive digital voltmeter. If you find 12.6 volts, the battery is fully charged. If you find around 12.0 volts, it's okay but discharged. At 11 volts suspect a shorted cell and the battery must be replaced. If you find 0 or real low voltage, something is shorting it out and you'll just damage another battery and possibly cause an explosion when trying to connect it or jumper cables.

If you do find 12.6 volts, turn on the head lights, (even if they don't work), to draw some current, then measure the battery voltage again. Now move the meter probes further down the line to see where the voltage is lost. Move the negative probe from the battery's negative cable to a paint-free point on the body, then to the engine. You should still have 12.6 volts at those places. (If the smaller black cable bolted to the body looks like the insulation melted or overheated, the larger black cable bolted to the engine has a bad connection).

Next, move the red probe from the battery's positive cable to the large terminal on the starter. You should have full 12.6 volts there too.

Caradiodoc
Sep 20, 2012.