98 Cavalier won't start


professorphreak
03-07-2017, 10:32 PM
Ok guys and gals, here's the problem: I have a 98 Cavalier 2.2. Three days ago the shifter linkage came off at the transmission (automatic). Replaced the bushing and it ran even better than before. No more klunk when putting it in gear. Was driving out to a friends place and had gone approx. 16 miles with the car running fine when all of a sudden the idiot lights start coming on one at a time starting with the ABS then the Air Bag, then the the Battery, then the Emergency Brake light. At the same time the headlights dim but when I got to a stop light and put it in neutral the idle was running REAL high. I managed to get it to my friends place, put it in park and the idle was still running real high. Tried tapping the gas pedal in case it was a stuck choke (don't know if it even has one) but that didn't change anything. I shut off the engine, waited about a minute and tried to start it and all it did was give a fast ratcheting/grinding noise. Wouldn't start. Used a multi-meter and checked the battery it was showing a little over 15 volts, still won't start. Tried again this morning and the starter tried, briefly, to start the engine but immediately went back to that ratcheting sound. Does anyone have any idea what the heck could be wrong? I'm already bald but still pulling my hair out with this. I would bang my head into a wall but don't want to hurt the wall.

Stealthee
03-08-2017, 06:20 AM
I think you read the multimeter wrong because I almost guarantee you have a dead battery. The ABS and airbag light, along with the battery light indicate a charging problem meaning your alternator likely went out and then killed your battery. Also a battery is not going to have 15 volts sitting static.

Something else that may be happening is your terminals could be corroded. I have ran into issue where the car all of a sudden acted like the battery died and wouldn't even start jumping it. Once I pulled the terminals off and cleaned all the contact points up it fired up without issue.

Blue Bowtie
03-08-2017, 08:28 AM
I'm with Stealrhee - It's likely a primary power system problem, such as the alternator, battery, main UEC connections, ground, etc.

If I had to take a wild (unsustantiated) guess I'd bet you a nickel that you'll find a shorted rectifier in the alternator bridge. That will apply AC voltage to the system and none of the electronics are going to act normally in that case. It will also drain the battery quickly once the engine stops.

But that's just a guess. Perform a complete diagnosis before condemning/replacing anything.

professorphreak
03-08-2017, 03:51 PM
While I might not be a mechanic by any stretch of the description, I am also not a complete idiot. I work on my own cars, and have since forever, because I cannot afford to have a mechanic do it for me. That being said, the battery WAS reading 15+ volts approx. 30 minutes after shutting the car off but still wouldn't start the car. Now here I am a day and a half later and the battery just tested at 12.13 volts. I attempted to start the car, no go. Checked the battery again and it still read 12.13 volts. Tried starting the car again, still no go, and checked the battery AGAIN and it read 11.86 volts. Battery terminals are clean as well as all the connections to the alternator and the ground connections from battery and starter.

Stealthee
03-08-2017, 04:34 PM
I'm sorry but there is no way it read 15 volts with the car not running. I work with electrical every day.

As soon as the alternator goes off the voltage starts dropping back closer to 12.4 volts. Hell most charging systems don't even charge above 14.5 volts and the fact it is not charging with the car off says it wasn't at 15 volts.

All that aside you have a definite electrical problem. Even if the terminals look clean take them off and clean them anyway. Check voltage to the starter too.

aleekat
03-08-2017, 05:23 PM
While I might not be a mechanic by any stretch of the description, I am also not a complete idiot. I work on my own cars, and have since forever, because I cannot afford to have a mechanic do it for me. That being said, the battery WAS reading 15+ volts approx. 30 minutes after shutting the car off but still wouldn't start the car. Now here I am a day and a half later and the battery just tested at 12.13 volts. I attempted to start the car, no go. Checked the battery again and it still read 12.13 volts. Tried starting the car again, still no go, and checked the battery AGAIN and it read 11.86 volts. Battery terminals are clean as well as all the connections to the alternator and the ground connections from battery and starter.

Measure the cranking voltage. I've had many batteries over the years that measures 12v static but the minute you try to crank, drops below 9.

aleekat
03-20-2017, 09:21 PM
So did you fix this?

Tech II
03-20-2017, 11:50 PM
Kat is right....

Your battery could have a good static charge....should read it while cranking the vehicle....should not drop below 10.0 volts while cranking....and as has been suggested, check your connections at the battery, AND also at the starter....

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