'95 Grand Prix - car died, now won't start


jessman1128
05-14-2006, 12:41 PM
My daughter has a '95 Grand Prix (3100 V6). The other day it died on her while she was driving down the road. I wasn't with her at the time, but she described it as if the power had suddenly been cut, like if somebody had turned the ignition off while the car was driving or something. When she tried to start it, it wouldn't start, it wouldn't try to turn over, all she heard was a click.

I spent some time working on it yesterday, took the battery and alternator to AutoZone to have them test them...the alternator is fine, and the battery is charged and is holding a charge fine. When you try to start it you can hear a loud click once (presumably from the starter) and that's it. Nothing else.

Any ideas on what the problem might be? I'm considering that it may be a starter problem, but if so that would mean something else caused the car to die while it was driving and then the starter decided to go bad at that exact same time....because a bad starter can't cause a car to die while it is driving.....can it? So if it's not the starter, and we know it's not the battery or alternator, am I looking at a bad connection somewhere? Or is there another piece to this puzzle that I'm missing?

I'd appreciate hearing any suggestions anyone has!!

jessman1128
05-14-2006, 02:53 PM
I've been doing some more research and I'm starting to wonder now if maybe the engine is seized. Does anyone know where I would find the crankshaft bolt on this engine so I can attempt to turn it by hand? I don't even know what I'm looking for to find the crankshaft bolt.

Still interested in any other suggestions anyone might have...

Thanks!

BlueGT02
05-14-2006, 03:24 PM
the harmonic balancer bolt, the biggest pully al the way at the bottom of the front of the motor, the motor being seized was my guess to, i think the bolt is a 17mm or an 18mm

jessman1128
05-14-2006, 03:35 PM
ok thanks...I'm assuming I need to remove the belt before attempting to turn it, right? and it's supposed to turn clockwise?

BlueGT02
05-14-2006, 03:44 PM
yes you must remove that belt, unless you plan on training for the world strong man competition

you turn the bolt and it should turn the whole motor

the other way, is, if you want to lift the vehicle there is an inspection cover on the transmission end of the motor that is held on by two bolts, if you remove this you can try to get a flywheel turning tool in there to turn the motor over

BlueGT02
05-14-2006, 03:56 PM
oh, and dont forget to pur it in neutral, also while trying to start, did you try it in different gears, or is it turning a little when cranking

jessman1128
05-14-2006, 04:29 PM
I haven't tried starting it in different gears, no...just park. It's not cranking or turning at all.

Carwhiz
05-14-2006, 08:27 PM
check the simple stuff before you go through all that work into trying to turn the engine over by hand......check to see if there is spark, if there isn't, then probably crank sensor-a common problem on gm v6's. Did it make any noise before it died???? just stall???? if so......prolly crank sensor.

jessman1128
05-14-2006, 09:05 PM
I don't know if it made a noise first, or just plain died. My daughter didn't mention it making any noise before it died, but I'll ask her tonight and see if she remembers anything.

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll try checking for spark before I do anything else. I'm not exactly sure how to do that (never had to before), but I have a pretty good guide that I think explains how to, so I'll check that out.

richtazz
05-15-2006, 06:51 AM
Ask her if any warning lights came on prior to it stalling like the oil or temp warning lights, check guages, etc... Also, if the car has guages, did any of them read too high (temp) or too low (oil)?

jessman1128
05-15-2006, 10:26 AM
She said the battery and oil pressure lights came on when the car died...she didn't notice them being on before it died. Don't know about the gauges...I don't remember which, if any, that it has.....but I'm fairly sure that she wouldn't have been paying attention to them if there are any.

richtazz
05-15-2006, 11:42 AM
If no lights came on or the car didn't make any nasty noises before it died, I'd say either you have a corroded battery cable or a dead starter. A corroded battery cable would cause both the car to die and the car not to start.

jessman1128
05-15-2006, 12:06 PM
Would a corroded battery cable allow power to get to the starter for it to be making the "click" noise?

jessman1128
05-15-2006, 04:30 PM
Hey everyone, thanks for the suggestions so far, I really appreciate them. If you don't mind humoring me for a minute here, I have a couple of questions/clarifications about the suggestions that have been made. I'm going to have to take a few hours off of work in order to work on this again, and I'm going to be stuck there (in a McDonald's parking lot) with limited time and my tools and book and nothing else....no computer access or anything...so I want to make sure I know exactly what I'm doing as much as possible going into it.

1) First thing I'm going to do is try to start it in neutral, to rule out the neutral safety switch, or whatever it's called.

2) Then, the starter doesn't sound too difficult to remove, so I'm thinking I may pull that off and take it to AutoZone to be tested anyway, even though that's probably not the problem because it wouldn't have killed the car while it was running.

3) If I'm hearing a click, presumably from the starter, that means the starter is getting power, right? Does that rule out the possibility of a corroded battery cable, or could that still be the issue?

3) Info I found elsewhere online suggests that a bad crankshaft position sensor would still allow the starter to crank the engine, it just wouldn't actually start. Is that correct? Because I'm not getting any cranking, just the click...is it possible that it could still be the crankshaft position sensor, or does the "no crank" rule that out?

4) Are the "spark testers" available at auto parts stores reliable enough to test for spark? Or do I need to pull one of the plugs and check for spark that way?

5) Eventually, if it gets to that point, I'll be attempting to turn the engine by hand.

I think that's it for now.

Thank you all very much for your help and suggestions. You guys are awesome.

TEAM_BRIAN
05-16-2006, 11:24 PM
I went through this not too long ago. My battery died and went bad which afterwards my starter died. I had to lift the engine up a little to get to the starter, That 3.4... REAL easy to get to things on it. Anyway I learned of something called "dead battery" which can kill your starter from a bad battery. The fuel pressure regulator went bad after that, still don't know how, and then i replaced that. Then, from the high pressure on the fuel pump because of the bad regulator, the fuel pump is now messed up. Gotta hate these chain reactions...

edbrycem
05-17-2006, 03:28 PM
since the belt is fairly simple to remove, I would try turning over by hand first, if u have the right size. That is worse case scenerio. if u cant turn it over,well.......u know. if u can, while u r under there then take out the starter. Yes if u have corroded wires u could have enuf connection to get power to the starter but not enuf to crank. to check for spark i would pull a plug out and crank it over and watch, but i dont foresee that being your problem though. It could be a bad connection at the starter too. Thats all i can think of off hand.

richtazz
05-17-2006, 04:42 PM
a bad battery cable can allow enough current to let the solenoid pull the drive in (making the click noise) but not enough current to roll the starter over. You cannot check for spark until you get the engine to roll over, so at this point, your concern is to get the car to crank. You could even try to gently tap the starter with a hammer to see if the car will start. If it does, then the starter is bad. I seriously doubt the engine seized, unless it made some horrible noises before it quit and your daughter is afraid to tell you what happened.

jessman1128
05-17-2006, 08:15 PM
Thanks again for the help...

Ok, here's the update...I took some time off yesterday and went back out there to the car.

Contrary to what I said last time, I decided to try cranking the engine manually first. Which brings me to my next question...should it crank fairly easily? Or does it take some serious pressure to get it to move? I didn't get it to move....but I wasn't putting extreme pressure on it either, because I forgot to bring something to block the wheels with, and come to find out the parking brake doesn't work. So I'm not sure if it's seized up....or if I just wasn't trying hard enough.

After that, I removed the air cleaner assembly to get batter access to the batter cables and starter. As far as I can tell, the battery cables are in perfectly fine condition. The starter is caked with a ton of grease and grime, but as best as I could tell without jacking the car up (yes, I forgot my jack and jack stands too...felt rather stupid) the starter connections appear to be okay.

I'm starting to think I may have to shell out some money to have it towed to a shop and have them check it out. I don't want to....but I'm not sure what else to do at this point. I may go back there with jack/jack stands on friday and see if i can get to the starter from underneath the car to take it off. I couldn't get access to the bolts from up above.

edbrycem
05-17-2006, 10:10 PM
Thanks again for the help...

Ok, here's the update...I took some time off yesterday and went back out there to the car.

Contrary to what I said last time, I decided to try cranking the engine manually first. Which brings me to my next question...should it crank fairly easily? Or does it take some serious pressure to get it to move? I didn't get it to move....but I wasn't putting extreme pressure on it either, because I forgot to bring something to block the wheels with, and come to find out the parking brake doesn't work. So I'm not sure if it's seized up....or if I just wasn't trying hard enough.

After that, I removed the air cleaner assembly to get batter access to the batter cables and starter. As far as I can tell, the battery cables are in perfectly fine condition. The starter is caked with a ton of grease and grime, but as best as I could tell without jacking the car up (yes, I forgot my jack and jack stands too...felt rather stupid) the starter connections appear to be okay.

I'm starting to think I may have to shell out some money to have it towed to a shop and have them check it out. I don't want to....but I'm not sure what else to do at this point. I may go back there with jack/jack stands on friday and see if i can get to the starter from underneath the car to take it off. I couldn't get access to the bolts from up above.

You shouldn't have to blow a nut turning it over but it would take a little umph. depending on the leverage u have example- I'm average size and i can turn a V8 350 over w/ 1/2 inch drive ratchet. you'll get a better idea how good the connection is at the starter after u jack it up. i hope the connection is bad as oppse to anything else. By the way, what size is the motor?

jessman1128
05-18-2006, 01:11 AM
It's a V6 3.1L (3100)

richtazz
05-18-2006, 08:37 AM
Before taking the starter off in a parking lot, try gently tapping it. If it has a bad spot on the armature, tapping it will move the armature just enough to get it off the bad spot, and the car might start. Then you can get it home and go through it more thoroughly. If the engine was seized, the starter would make a loud clunk, not just a click, as the drive hits the flywheel but it wont turn. When working on cars, especially away from home in an inconvenient place, always use the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). I'm not calling you stupid by the way, stupid as in smack yourself in the forehead because you replaced a $500 part only to find it was a loose connection. The corrosion I spoke of before may not be visible without taking the cables off the battery.

jessman1128
05-21-2006, 12:04 PM
Update:
The car may be getting towed to a junkyard soon, in which case I won't be able to work on it any more. But, I wanted to explain what we tried and found out yesterday and see what you guys think.

I read somewhere that the positive terminal on the starter should be getting 12 volts with the car completely off, and when you try to start the car the voltage on the starter positive terminal should stay above 9.5-10 volts. If it drops lower than that when trying to start it the battery isn't supplying enough power, either because of a bad battery or a bad connection. So that was one of the first things we checked yesterday. It is getting 12 volts with everything off, but when attempting to start it it drops down to around 6.5 volts. So I thought maybe there was a problem with the cables, even though they look perfectly fine. So we took the old cables off, bought new ones and hooked them up.....and the problem was even worse....now the ignition switch wasn't even working...no clicking or anything. Thought maybe we blew something in the process of switching the cables...checked all the fuses, everything looked fine. Took the new cables off, hooked the old cables back up....back to the original problem....so I don't know if the new cables were defective or what....but I'm definitely returning them.

We tried turning the engine again too. Put a 1/2 inch ratchet on it, then a 18-inch iron pipe on the ratchet. We got the bolt to turn a little bit....probably 1/4 to 1/2 a turn.....but.....the wheel wasn't turning with it. Is that a good indication the engine is seized? Or that the bolt wasn't tightened down to proper specs when it was put on there?

Somehow it completely slipped my mind to try tapping the starter with a hammer. D'oh!

Any thoughts? Is the information I found about measuring the voltage to the starter correct? Indicative of a bad connection somewhere? Or maybe a bad battery and AutoZone was wrong when they said the battery was fine? Or is the engine likely seized since the wheel wasn't turning with the bolt?

One other related question....sorry for the long post.....When replacing the battery cables is it necessary to get a positive cable that has the auxiliary post like the original cable has? Because the one I bought didn't and I was wondering if that was why the problem was worse with the new cables.

BlueGT02
05-30-2006, 03:22 AM
6.5 v at the battery while cranking may be a battery issue. I would think that the cables couldnt cause this situation and it would definetly be the battery but i've been wrong on issues like this before.

richtazz
05-30-2006, 01:39 PM
That voltage drop is way too high. Your starter needs a minimum 10.5v to turn over. That has to be either a bad battery or cable. The positive cable has a branch that goes to the "jump post" near the drivers side strut tower( the other goes directly to the starter solenoid). If the generic cable you bought doesn't have this extra branch, that is why the ignition went out, as the ignition switch is powered through the jump post.

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