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Replaced starter, battery, still won't start.


robrieke
09-17-2005, 12:55 PM
I've got a 2001 Lumina, 3.1, around 80k miles. There were no problems starting my car prior to what happened last week. My wife went to the store and it wouldn't start when she tried to come back home. The solenoid would click, but the starter wouldn't work. We had it towed home, I looked at the starter and the battery. The starter gear was pretty worn, so I figured I'd replace it. The positive battery cable was corroded to packed dust, and the positive battery terminal was the same, so I figured I'd replace them.

***I kept track of every wire I took off the starter.*** There were 2 on one big terminal (including the positive cable), and 1 on a small side terminal, a purple one. The other big terminal had a big wire going to the starter itself.

Anyway, I replaced the starter/solenoid, battery, and cable. Went to start up the car and when I turned the key to Start, nothing happened. Made sure I was in park (and e-brake AND chocked the tires). Pressed down the brake pedal and didn't hear the click I usually hear (which I assume is a relay allowing me to start the car). Tried a couple more times, checked my connections and tested the battery, cable and starter. All 3 were good.

More troubleshooting has led me to discover that the windows won't work even though when I plug a multimeter into the fuse for them, there is a voltage flow when I push the buttons down.

No voltage flow through the starter relay fuse connection in the car when I tried to start it with the multimeter plugged in there.

I'm going to check the ignition switch next, but at this point I'm ready to ask for help. Does anybody know what the problem could be if it's not the ignition switch?

Thanks!
Robert A. Rieke

NeonKnight
09-17-2005, 05:11 PM
I've got a 2001 Lumina, 3.1, around 80k miles. There were no problems starting my car prior to what happened last week. My wife went to the store and it wouldn't start when she tried to come back home. The solenoid would click, but the starter wouldn't work. We had it towed home, I looked at the starter and the battery. The starter gear was pretty worn, so I figured I'd replace it. The positive battery cable was corroded to packed dust, and the positive battery terminal was the same, so I figured I'd replace them.

***I kept track of every wire I took off the starter.*** There were 2 on one big terminal (including the positive cable), and 1 on a small side terminal, a purple one. The other big terminal had a big wire going to the starter itself.

Anyway, I replaced the starter/solenoid, battery, and cable. Went to start up the car and when I turned the key to Start, nothing happened. Made sure I was in park (and e-brake AND chocked the tires). Pressed down the brake pedal and didn't hear the click I usually hear (which I assume is a relay allowing me to start the car). Tried a couple more times, checked my connections and tested the battery, cable and starter. All 3 were good.

More troubleshooting has led me to discover that the windows won't work even though when I plug a multimeter into the fuse for them, there is a voltage flow when I push the buttons down.

No voltage flow through the starter relay fuse connection in the car when I tried to start it with the multimeter plugged in there.

I'm going to check the ignition switch next, but at this point I'm ready to ask for help. Does anybody know what the problem could be if it's not the ignition switch?

Thanks!
Robert A. Rieke





Check your ground. it is possible to have electricy going through but without the ground there to finalize the circuit you wont be able to take a load off the battery for anything. i would trace back your ground wire, make sure you dont have an exposed wires. Make sure nothing was crimped accidently etc etc.. check for short to ground mainly. also check the fuse panel in the engine compartment pull out each fuse and see if they are good.

robrieke
09-17-2005, 06:34 PM
I checked the ground and it was good from the battery all the way to the case that the starter attached to. Good from the case to the starter too. 0.0 ohms. After looking at the schematic more, I'm wondering if it's a theft deterrent relay (purple wire). I tried looking for it and found a couple of relays in one of the engine compartment fuseboxes, but they weren't the right ones. Do you have any idea where the theft deterrent relay or the theft deterrent module are?

maxwedge
09-17-2005, 07:06 PM
Is the security lite stayin on? If so try leaving the key on for 15 minutes then attermpt to start.

robrieke
09-18-2005, 07:11 PM
No security light. Tried the 15 minute thing anyways, and it didn't work.

I used the multimeter to check all the wiring between the battery and the fusebox after the alternator, and it all checked out fine. The only thing I couldn't check was the theft deterrent relay and module, since I couldn't find them. I did find out that a bunch of lights and such weren't working. Here's a list of what does and doesn't work:

DOESN'T WORK:
Headlights
Overhead light (works once right after hooking battery up, but once key is turned toward run/start it goes out and won't light up again. Switch won't turn it on, and it won't turn on when the doors are opened.)
Heater/AC when turned to run/start or back to Accessory
Windshield wipers/wiper fluid pump
Dash display lights (speedometer, AC, etc...)
Ashtray light
Power windows

WORKS:
Overhead light (only once, see above)
Radio (display lights up when I press hr or min button, goes out after a couple seconds. Repeatable.)
Brake lights (on trunk AND above back seat)
Backup lights (when in reverse)
Glove compartment light
Electric mirrors
Electric locks
Trunk light
Key chime when door open (not when turned to run or start)

I'm now totally lost. I'm going to comb through the electrical diagrams, but I don't know what to do here except keep probing with the multimeter. Has anybody seen anything like this before???


Quick story to show that NOW I know how to use the multimeter correctly. I had some brief training in electrical theory and haven't had much chance to use it at work. Tried to track down a short in my 88 Ranger and ended up replacing about 50' of wiring without any luck. Sat down, looked at the durn multimeter, and realized that I'd been using VOLTS to try to find the short, instead of AMPS. So every time I measured from the battery to the battery cable I kept getting 12.6V. Found the short about 5 minutes after I turned it to AMPS. That was the day I almost put an icepick through the engine. :)
Moral of the story: Use AMPS to try to find current flow, VOLTS to check battery voltage, and OHMS to check continuity. Expensive lesson...

UPDATE TO POST
A couple more things to ponder.
:banghead: With the turn signal switch in the middle or Left turn position, the emergency flasher only flashes 3 lights: Back 2 and the front left light. With the switch to turn Right, all 4 lights flash like they're supposed to.
:banghead: I used an OBD Code reader to see if it would give me any codes. No joy. Not sure how valid the results are since the instructions say to start the engine and THEN plug in the code reader. All I could do was turn the ignition to run and plug it in.
:banghead: I tried to short across the starter terminals to start the car with the key in the run, then the START positions (with my wife in the car to turn the key off!) and it wouldn't turn over the engine. The starter started and the engine turned a little, but it was sort of a halfhearted attempt.
:banghead: I've doublechecked ALL of the fuses in all 3 fuseboxes and they are ALL good. Unable to check the relays, but switching 2 relays around (same item #) doesn't help or hurt.

A couple of days ago I ordered a Factory Tech Manual from Helm, Inc. for the car. Once I get it, maybe it can help me. Then once I get it started, maybe I can help others on here with 01 Luminas...

bstrom1953
09-18-2005, 11:21 PM
For the most part, it sounds like the only devices that work are those that aren't drawing much current. When you demand substantial current, the device does little or nothing. You may have a battery with a bad cell that can't deliver the current it is rated at, even if it's new. Battery cells are in series and it only takes one with too much internal resistance to greatly reduce the current output. You'll notice it most when larger currents are drawn.
Try measuring the voltage right across the bat terminals when you try to crank the engine or turn on the headlights...something that really draws the current. It shouldn' drop below about 9.8, I think.
You said you changed the cable. I have seen cables with molded lead bat clamps that had no internal connection but looked good from the outside.
You said you checked the ground wire. Really strange things happen when the ground wire has a little resistance in it where it attaches to the frame or starter or engine or at the bat post itself. If there is ANY measurable resistance you will get an IR drop across the connection and that is not good. Remember, V=IR. If you are dropping a voltage across a connection or terminal or cable, there is resistance present and must be removed by cleaning or replacement.

robyrob
09-20-2005, 11:03 AM
you said that the battery posts "looked like they had been corroded to dust"? - does it look like any liquid had come out of the battery?

- if so, you may have a bad battery, as mentioned above, but it may also have damaged your hot cable as well. Check that AND your ground wire, as well as any power junction points.

jeffcoslacker
09-20-2005, 01:07 PM
Without reading this whole thing I wondered, did you positively replace all fuseable links and primary wires that go to the starter? Sometimes one hides, and you'll miss it when it goes back together.

robrieke
09-21-2005, 06:37 PM
:rofl: WOOHOO!!! SHE'S UP AND RUNNING!!! Thank you to EVERYONE that helped with this, each suggestion put me a little closer to solving the problem. Here's what I was writing before I found the problem, which is at the end.

Bstrom-I just tried checking across the terminals (between the positive terminal and positive cable). 12.46 Volts. Had my wife try the headlights, then starting it. No change at all in voltage. There's no resistance between the connectors on the battery cable, or from the small wire that branches off of it. Same thing with the negative battery cable, no resistance. So both cables are good. I checked the wire from the starter to the alternator (2 wires merge into 1 connector on the starter end, has the fusigle links in it. No resistance there either.

Roby-It didn't look like there was any liquid there, but it was like very tightly packed flour or dust. When I went to unscrew the screw holding the cable to the battery, the wrench just slid right around and came off with all of the crevices full of the corroded metal. I have replaced the battery and the cable. The ground wire looks good, has no resistance in itself and no resistance to the screw holding it onto the starter case (ground).

Jeff-I made sure I put every cable on. Did it by putting different colored zipties through all the connector holes for a certain connection point. I even turned my hands jet black just by feeling every square inch of space I could find around the starter for about 2 feet, and got my little mirror out for the small spots.

:smokin: SOLUTION: After doing all the troubleshooting above, I was sitting in the front seat, looking over the electrical diagrams and pulling out what few hairs I have left. I remembered that Bstrom mentioned that the only devices working were those not drawing much current. Although the Haynes electrical diagrams are VERY incomplete, I was able to trace 2 big devices to the fusebox situated almost on top of the battery. I used my multimeter to measure the voltage and got 12.4 volts for about 10 seconds, and then it would drop almost to 0. Hmmm... I got my little test light out (easier to use a yes/no device instead of a device with various degrees of yes) and checked voltage. I tested the cable going to the starter and detected voltage. I then tested the auxiliary battery post, which is where the small wire branching off of the positive cable goes to. No light. Just for giggles, I tested every part of the fusebox above the battery, which is "downstream" of the aux battery post.

I had to cut the original wire about halfway up due to the connection being VERY tight and not wanting to break the fusebox to unhook it. I had tried to splice the wires together, and ended up pulling them apart as I was taping them. They were making just enough contact that anything downstream of them that required as much or more power than my little test light wouldn't get the power, but I would still be able to detect the voltage as 12V on my multimeter since it's self-powered.

I took off all of the tape and the splicing material and used an alligator clip to hold the wires together while my wife tested the headlights. WE HAD LIGHT! I crossed my fingers and asked her to start the engine. BLAST OFF!!! I added about 4 inches of 12 gauge wire to ensure I didn't put pressure on my splices and tested after each splice. After using about 1/4 roll of electrical tape and 2 splicing tubes, the car now starts and EVERYTHING works.

Overall, I ended up replacing a BAD starter, a BAD battery, and a BAD positive battery cable. Overall cost about $250ish and 30ish hours of troubleshooting, tearing out hair, and finally fixing it.

:grinno: Once again, THANK YOU to everyone that jumped in here and offered suggestions. You all helped me either narrow down the problem area, or trace it more easily. When my factory tech manual comes in, I look forward to helping as many of you as I can. :grinno:

THANK YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!

Robert A. Rieke
robrieke@yahoo.com

sgreen156
09-22-2012, 10:33 AM
I have a question, I have a 2002 pontiac grand am gt, and it wont start. I have already replaced the starter and solenoid, and cleaned the battery terminal connections. I have also checked all the fuses. when i turn the key to the on position, all the lights, and power windows and radio work along with everything else, then when i turn it to start everything dies and doesnt work. like i said, i already replaced the starter and solenoid and double checked everything that i disconnected. What else could it be?

Tech II
09-22-2012, 02:10 PM
First of all, you are jumping in on a 7 year old post......

Second, you should post in the Pontiac forum, under Grand Am's.....

So you replaced the starter/solenoid, cleaned terminals, and it still won't start....

First thing you should have done, was check voltage at the battery, with the key in the crank position(above 12 volts).....then check to see if you had the same volts at the other end of the battery cable on the starter.....if ok, then you check the purple wire to the solenoid at the "S" terminal.....should be 0 volts.....when the key is in the crank position, it should be battery voltage....If you have battery voltage when in the crank position, and all connections are tight and clean at the starter, and the negative cable to chassis ground from the battery is good, with no voltage drop, then bad starter(you won't be the first to get a bad one)...

However, if you don't have battery power at the purple wire at the "S" terminal, with key in the crank position, then you have to work your way backwards on the purple wire, through the Park/Neutral switch, then through the ignition switch, to the fuse......in fact, try starting the car in neutral with your foot on the brake...

But, if you have the PassLock system, which I think you do, maybe the PCM is not grounding the starter enable relay....Under the hood there is a fuse block....find the starter enable relay.....put your hand on it and have someone turn the key to the crank position......if you feel/hear the relay click, then try swapping the relay with another with the same number on it....

If it doesn't click, and the relay is ok, if could still be a P/N switch or ignition switch or fuse.......but more likely it's the PassLock security system......

sgreen156
09-23-2012, 04:39 PM
there is one relay that is clicking, and when i tried switching the relay, the different one that i put in was still clicking, and its still not starting. Any ideas as to what it could be?

Tech II
09-23-2012, 05:15 PM
Is that the starter enable relay?

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