Will not start

Tiny
BIGMIKE1260
  • MEMBER
  • 1988 DODGE DAKOTA
  • 3.9L
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 140,000 MILES
Went out to start it since it being winter did not want the battery to drain. I have a fuel line that I need to fix because it is leaking so I was having it sit and starting it periodically. It cranked over but could not start, now it will not crank over and just has a clicking noise. Battery has plenty of power. Everything is still original just need to know what to look into first. Any help Is appreciated.
Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 AT 3:02 PM

9 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • MECHANIC
  • 33,724 POSTS
First we have to get it cranking, otherwise nothing else matters. Check the battery cable connections first. Next, turn on the head lights or interior lights, then watch what happens to their brightness when you try to crank the engine.

Do you have a digital voltmeter and know how to use it? For some of the tests, you can get by with a test light. Either way this will be easier with a helper to turn the ignition switch. If you do not have a test light or voltmeter, you can find both at Harbor Freight Tools at very low cost. Their little red voltmeters cost around $8.00 and work just fine. I can tell you how to use it if necessary.
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Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 AT 3:55 PM
Tiny
BIGMIKE1260
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  • 5 POSTS
I am going to get the voltmeter today while in out. So I need to check to see if power gets to the starter?
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Friday, April 20th, 2018 AT 11:24 AM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • MECHANIC
  • 12,935 POSTS
Clicking indicates either a low/bad battery or bad connections. So first you test the battery to be sure it is not the problem. Use the volt meter to test the battery, you should see 12.6 volts or a bit higher on a fully charged battery. Voltage any lower than about 11 means put a charger on it before you try to start it.
So you test it and find 12.2 volts, well that should crank the engine over but you just get clicks. Check the battery cables at both ends and wiggle the cables around. Many times a cable will corrode inside the actual connectors or even inside the rubber insulation. They look good visually but are actually not capable of carrying the amperage needed to turn the starter motor over. However, they may show a good voltage reading on the meter because one strand of wire still makes a connection.
Bad connections are very common on vehicles that set as the engine bay does not get hot which means any moisture that condenses on the parts gets to wick into areas it normally would not have the opportunity to. Rust or lead oxide are both poor conductors and it does not take very much to stop an engine from starting.
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Friday, April 20th, 2018 AT 4:19 PM
Tiny
BIGMIKE1260
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  • 5 POSTS
Alright so just to clarify things. What I am hearing is actually more of a buzzing noise I am going out now to test the battery and starter.
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Saturday, April 21st, 2018 AT 9:26 AM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • MECHANIC
  • 12,935 POSTS
Buzzing is low amperage to the starter solenoid 99% of the time. Still the same issues apply. I say amperage because you can measure twelve volts with a meter but not have enough amperage to turn the starter motor over.
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Saturday, April 21st, 2018 AT 7:19 PM
Tiny
BIGMIKE1260
  • MEMBER
  • 5 POSTS
Yes, massive power drain when I try to start it goes from twelve volts to almost nothing. I have it hooked up to another car but nothing so far. Further inspection everything looks pretty clean on the cables or connections.
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Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 AT 1:36 PM
Tiny
BIGMIKE1260
  • MEMBER
  • 5 POSTS
I am pretty sure the starter is froze up. So I am going to replace it. That seems to be my only option right now.
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Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 AT 4:27 PM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • MECHANIC
  • 12,935 POSTS
Is the power drop at the starter connections or are you seeing that at the battery end? Could be a bad starter but doubtful. Connections can look good but be bad inside the cable.
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Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 AT 5:56 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • MECHANIC
  • 33,724 POSTS
To go to 0 volts, depending on where you're taking that measurement, ( battery posts vs. Battery cable clamps), you either have a very bad battery or loose or corroded cables or connections. Even a locked-up starter won't draw a good battery down to 0 volts. You would have around 250 to 300 amps, which is the normal current draw for a starter motor not yet up to full speed. That normally lasts for a fraction of a second, then current drops to less than 150 amps for the remainder of the crank cycle. If the starter is locked up, which typically only happens when the engine is seized, that higher current will be constant and the battery cables will get real hot in a short time.

The clue to this is to put your meter probes right on the center of the battery's posts to take the measurement while trying to crank the engine, not on the cable clamps. If you find voltage stays relatively high during the attempted cranking, move the probes to the cable clamps and try again. If the reading is substantially lower now, one of those two connections is loose or dirty.
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Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 AT 6:47 PM

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