Car won't start - have battery power though - thoughts?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Maverick2002, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. Maverick2002

    Maverick2002 Diamond Member

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    Ok I'm not a car whiz and my friend who works on my car with me is at work right now. My car won't start, I THINK it might be spark plug but not sure.

    Lights turn on.
    Tried to jump it, no go.

    So I think battery is fine.

    When I turn the key I get really rapid click click click sound. When I turn the key back the gauges vibrate for a few seconds.

    01 Civic EX. Temperature dropped last night but not to freezing or anything, so don't think anything froze (if something can freeze).

    Thoughts?
     
  2. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    Dead battery**

    'Some power' is not the same as 'enough power to start**'
     
  3. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    You need a new battery**

    Your description matches a bad battery**
     
  4. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    Why is the board adding asterixes?
     
  5. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    The board is having problems with its period.

    OP, it could also be a bad cable/connection or a bad starter. But battery is the most likely. If you have a meter handy, check the voltage. Should be over 12v. If unsure of state of charge, have someone crank the engine with your meter still on the battery terminals. If the voltage drops sharply when the starter is energized, it's the batt.
     
    #5 phucheneh, Nov 13, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  6. Maverick2002

    Maverick2002 Diamond Member

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    Hmm, I have emergency road service as part of my insurance (though I don't have AAA). Will they come and swap in a battery if and then I can pay them? Don't have a meter, trying to figure out the easiest/most cost effective way of taking care of this.

    EDIT: called my insurance company and they said they would reimburse a % of towing cost (couldn't specify amount). So I guess I would be going to a part shop on a whim that it's battery or starter. How hard is it to swap a battery? Doable by 1 person without many tools? I'd rather just get a ride (if it's battery), buy the battery and swap it myself if I can do it.
     
    #6 Maverick2002, Nov 13, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  7. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    http://www.harborfreight.com/catalogsearch/result?q=multimeter

    Those cheapies work okay for voltage checks.

    Or just remove the battery and take it to the parts store. Depending on the vehicle, it generally requires removing either two 10mm nuts or one bolt of a random size (usually 13-14mm). Contrary to popular belief, you do not take said simple hold-down hardware and throw it in the woods- it goes back in with the new (or recharged) battery.

    Plus the two terminal connections. 5/16" on old side posts, 10mm on many modern cars, generally 12mm, 13mm, or 1/2" on older or aftermarket top post terminals.

    Remove the negative cable first, connect it last. Don't accidentally connect the terminals with your wrench or ratchet.

    Congrats, you are now a trained battery service tech.
     
  8. Maverick2002

    Maverick2002 Diamond Member

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    I have a multimeter and just checked it. Reads ~12v fine. Had someone crank it with meter still on terminals, 3 times, and each time voltage dropped to about 3v. I also tried a jump to no avail. So is it a dead battery?
     
  9. EagleKeeper

    EagleKeeper Discussion Club Moderator<br>Elite Member
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    First let the other car put some decent charge on the battery - at least 3-5 minutes.
    Try to start
    If fails
    Remove the terminal cables from the battery. Should be able to be done with a decent pair of grip pliers if you do not have the proper wrench.

    Then attempt the jump.

    If that will not go; you have a starter problem.

    If the vehicle starts; put the cables back on and go to an auto parts store.
    Have them check the alternator and battery. One of the two is a problem.
    Battery; most places will replace the old with a new purchased one for you
    Alternator; get proper wrenches and crowbar and plenty of daylight.
     
    #9 EagleKeeper, Nov 13, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  10. Ketchup

    Ketchup Lifer

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    Sounds like a dead battery. Do you have anything to jump-start with?

    How old is the battery? Something in the car could have been left on making the battery die, or it could just be old. Depending on the age/type of battery, you might also get pro-rated on the purchase of a new one.
     
  11. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    Yes. Replace batt, and ensure charging voltage is in the 13.8-14.4v range.

    12v+ indicates all cells are good. By specification, 12.6v is an optimal, fully charged battery, though you can see up to about 12.8 with a surface charge. 12.4-12.5 is pretty normal. As you get closer to 12 the battery gets more discharged.

    A good batt will typically keep cranking into the 11.8-12.0v range. Past that, too discharged to turn the engine over. 'State of charge' numbers go out the window when you have a batt with severely reduced capacity, though, which is why you do the load test.

    When cranking, you want to see the voltage at least stay above 10.5v or so. Severe drops mean the batt is out of juice.

    If you couple that 3v number with an open voltage of over 12v, you can pretty much deem the battery to be 'bad' without needing a tester. Still give the alternator a cursory check, though.
     
  12. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    3V is an ex-battery...pining for the fjords...
     
  13. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    You can get a battery down to practically nothing and still possibly have it charge up.

    But that's when showing a really low open circuit voltage (voltage with nothing connected...or basically in a car with the key off).

    He's showing a voltage that indicates the battery has some charge, but it doesn't. And the voltage drop under load is at the battery (not through a cable- if he held >10v at the batt while cranking but still got clicking, I'd say to make sure to check the drop across the starter cable and the battery ground).

    edit: not arguing, btw; yes, his battery is bad. I'm just clarifying that measuring 3v under cranking and 3v at at rest indicate different things, and that batteries well below the voltage of '100% discharged' are still sometimes good.
     
    #13 phucheneh, Nov 13, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  14. Maverick2002

    Maverick2002 Diamond Member

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    I can get someone to try and jump it again (maybe wait longer this time). The terminals looks fairly clean and it's clamped on well, but I can take the leads off and replace them. Maybe brush off the terminals too. Touching a single lead at a time with a wrench won't do anything bad, right? (as in won't shock me). Do I need to connect/disconnect them in any particular order?

    @Eagle - are you saying I should take off the leads, then connect jumper cables (to battery or to leads?) and try to jump?

    Getting some different advice here so I'm not sure what to do (and how to do it safely). Would like to avoid towing if possible and I need to get whatever done before work tomorrow evening.
     
    #14 Maverick2002, Nov 13, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  15. desy

    desy Diamond Member

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    Its a battery dude
    If that battery has never been changed its well overdue anyway just disconnect it drag it to the parts store 'we have to do a core exchange around here anyway or pay enviro fee'
    And pop the new one in
     
  16. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    The only way to shock yourself with 12v is to get really sweaty and then lay part of yourself (have had it happen to my stomach while basically lying on engines to reach stuff) across the terminals. All it is is a tingle...your body has too much resistance.

    What you want to avoid is errantly wrenching on one terminal and swinging your tool (heh, 'swing your tool') into the other. Steel has a practical resistance of zero. You'll notice a large shower of sparks as a side effect of this.

    Connect jumper cables to the dead car first (have the key off) and then to the live car, ground lead last. Ideally clamped to a good metal chunk of engine that's not by the battery, but no one listens to that rule. The risk of a small spark causing a hydrogen explosion that flings sulfuric acid everywhere is...well...possible. Has happened. But the battery needs to be getting overcharged like crazy (unlikely in a car if it has not been recently recharged by any external source).

    Anyhoosits, if you make that last connection without exploding, start the good car up, then try the dead one. Sometimes it helps to have a helper crank it while you wiggle the cables to try and grind the little copper teeth into good contact with the battery terminal. Sometimes they just take a quick jiggle to get good contact.

    Make sure the batt terminals are actually tightened, also. Just being 'on there' is often not good enough contact- if you can move the terminal on the post by hand (should feel rigid if you give it a light shake), they're loose.

    If the car continues to not start, you'll need to check for voltage drop across the battery cables.
     
    #16 phucheneh, Nov 13, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  17. Maverick2002

    Maverick2002 Diamond Member

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    Ok, let's say it doesn't start (I'll be able to test this tomorrow morning). How do I check for the voltage drop across the cables? Can I even do that?

    Ideally I'd be able to jump start it tomorrow morning and drive it to the parts store and have them figure out what's wrong, but if that doesn't happen what I'd like to avoid (if possible) is taking out the battery, getting a new one, and then finding out it wasn't the battery all along.
     
  18. desy

    desy Diamond Member

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  19. nerp

    nerp Diamond Member

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    Wait, you're the ultimate mac daddy posting your 101 on how to be the playa of players but you drive an 01 civic and don't know how to change a battery? Can't you snap your fingers and get some chick you've dominated come do it for you?
     
  20. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    Don't trust the parts store to do anything other than use a conductance tester (handheld box with a pair of smaller wires/clamps).

    There's no reason it shouldn't take a jump. Or, rather, at least CRANK from jumper leads. You could have the battery removed, for all it matters. Just need an adequate supply of 12v power connected to the battery cables (i.e. jumpers to a good car) to turn the starter motor.

    Voltage drop is just measuring the difference in voltage between two points.

    Ideally, battery voltage is present at the hot side of a load (the starter) and 0v at it's ground (for a starter, its casing and the engine as a whole are the 'ground'). The load consumes all voltage.

    With a bad cable, too much resistance will build when you try and crank the engine. The resistance of the copper wire will itself becomes a load and consume some voltage. Voltage lost across the cable is measured by putting one probe on the positive battery terminal and one on the large ring terminal on the starter (other end of positive battery cable). Someone must hold the key in the crank position while you check this.

    Battery voltage minus this number will be the available voltage at the B+ starter terminal.

    You can check the grounds in the same way. And it's easier. One probe on B-, one probe on chassis. Then switch the chassis probe to the engine (both should be good grounds).
     
  21. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    I'll just say this. 3V cranking almost certainly means I am buying a new battery. I am not jump starting it because I kinda' don't want my alternator trying to charge that battery.

    I also kinda' don't want the other car's alternator trying to charge a battery that is that low.

    If I have a battery charger, I might try that to see if the battery will recover, but overall, I would be going to get a new battery.

    I'd have to be desperate to try to work with such a battery.
     
  22. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    You've missed the point that I specifically tried to address.

    An old battery sitting in the corner that measures 3v across the terminals? Might could be charged back up.

    A battery that measures 12v or more across the terminals, but 3v while trying to turn an engine over? Replace.
     
  23. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    I didn't miss anything. 3V open circuit is probably worse than 3V cranking, but both are done for, as far as I am concerned. I'm not trusting such a battery any further than I can throw it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_battery#Terminal_voltage

    You can trust it and try to charge it if it's your battery. It's your decision. My advice to the OP remains the same.
     
  24. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    You're still missing the point.

    Once the battery has dropped past that approximate '0%' mark, any further discharging will still continue to lower the voltage. Quickly. Hence you can't just say 'oh my, this battery has less than 11 volts' and immediately condemn it.

    It's not like in your digital camera, where the camera senses that your 1.2v rechargable AA's are discharged and refuses to turn on when the batteries may still have a volt a piece left in them.

    It's more easily possible to drag the voltage of a lead acid battery waaayyy down...there are plenty of things in your car that will draw current at whatever voltage you can supply it.

    Is it good for it to be discharged that far? No. Will it still work when recharged? Probably.
     
  25. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    My opinions are mine. They are different than yours.

    Any 12V lead/acid starting battery of mine that ever measures a true 3V, is an ex-battery.

    Only desperation would cause me to try and use it/revive it. And even if it somehow revived, I would keep it only as far as the nearest place to buy a replacement.
     
    #25 LTC8K6, Nov 13, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012