Clicks one time but will not crank

Tiny
DUSTIN SMITH
  • MEMBER
  • 2003 DODGE STRATUS
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 89,000 MILES
So I go to start my car one loud click then nothing. I tried battery, new starter and fuses look good. What am I missing?
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Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 AT 12:00 AM

8 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
That is a common symptom of a corroded battery cable. Do the dash lights, interior lights, and head lights continue to light up properly when this happens? If they do, start the diagnosis by using a test light and a helper. Ground the test light to a paint-free point on the engine or transmission, then probe the large stud on the starter where the positive battery cable is attached. There should be twelve volts there all the time, so the test light will be bright. What happens to its brightness when your helper tries to crank the engine?
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Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 AT 12:23 AM
Tiny
DUSTIN SMITH
  • MEMBER
Okay, so what I did is put jumper cables on positive and negative of battery, put positive on the hot wire to starter and put ground to frame turned over with ease. How do I know if it is the ground or positive that is corroded?
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Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 AT 3:04 PM
Tiny
DUSTIN SMITH
  • MEMBER
I ran a cable from battery to starter that did not help.
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Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 AT 5:37 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
My first response was going to be, "that will not work because you cannot get enough current through the tiny jaws of jumper cables", but you proved me wrong. So with a positive and a negative temporary cable in place, the starter cranks the engine just fine, right? Now just remove one of them and see what happens. If you have just the positive one still in place and it doesn't crank, it is the negative one that has the problem.

Oops; wait a minute. You said you put the negative jumper cable to the frame, meaning the body? If that solved the problem, without that jumper cable you should not have dash light, head lights, or anything electrical working, including the starter solenoid. If that is correct, look at that negative battery cable clamp. It will either have a second, smaller wire in it, or the fat one going to the engine block will have a crimped-on strap in the middle. Whichever you have, that gets bolted to the body. The entire drive train is mounted on rubber mounts to reduce vibration, so for the return circuits for all the other electrical stuff, there has to be a ground wire bolted to the body. Check if yours got left off or is corroded off.

If you meant to say the negative jumper cable is attached to the engine, and that is when the starter works, that cable has a bad connection or is corroded away under the insulation. To verify that, use a digital voltmeter set to the 2.0-volt scale. Put one probe on the battery's negative post, and the other probe on a paint-free point on the engine. Electrically-speaking, those two points are the same points in that circuit, so the meter should always read 0.00 volts. However, there is always a little resistance in any wire or cable, and current flowing through that resistance will cause a slight voltage drop that can be measured. (To be technical, that resistance is way too small to be measured with your meter, but we can measure the results of that resistance with this voltage drop test). During cranking, which is when the really high current flows through that cable, the most voltage drop you're allowed to have is 0.4 volts. There is more to the story, but we will discuss that when the time comes.

If that negative cable has a bad connection, your meter will likely display an over-range condition, meaning more than 2.0 volts is being dropped. That problem will not cause the head lights to dim during cranking, and the battery cables will not get hot, because too little, or no current is flowing.

Instead of a digital voltmeter, you can do that test with a test light too. If you see any glow in the bulb's filament when trying to crank the engine, there is way too much voltage drop. The problem is that will only show a major defect. 0.5 volts is too much drop, but a test light will not come close to showing that.
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Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 AT 10:54 PM
Tiny
DUSTIN SMITH
  • MEMBER
So I am going to run some test like that today. When I went to get the car I hooked up the positive jumper cable to the battery and to the starter it did not jump so I then hooked up the negative one to the battery one to the motor mount on the car and that is when it fired. So I am thinking you are right it is not the hot wire but a ground is there but not allowing the full circuit. Weird part is everything in my car including lights work great. So I am going to hook up just the negative cables and see what happens. I will keep you posted and thanks this site is a huge help.
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Monday, July 3rd, 2017 AT 5:38 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Dandy. It sounds like it's the cable between the engine block and battery.

I'll be out of town from Wed. Through Sat. For the Iola Old Car Show swap meet, so lets try to get this solved by tomorrow night.
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Monday, July 3rd, 2017 AT 9:18 PM
Tiny
DUSTIN SMITH
  • MEMBER
It was a lose ground from the frame to the motor thank you for tye help car is up and running agin
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Thursday, July 6th, 2017 AT 10:54 AM
Tiny
KEN
  • ADMIN
Nice work, we are here to help, please use 2CarPros anytime.

Cheers, Ken
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Friday, July 7th, 2017 AT 2:19 PM

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