Two weeks later... ANOTHER mysterious problem!

11-02-2006, 05:41 PM
Car: 2000 Sunfire SE 2.2 manual tranny with BRAND NEW CLUTCH (hence why I hope the solution to whatever my problem is DOESN'T cost an arm and a leg to fix. I only have one of each left! lol)

You guys are the car gurus and have given me sound advice time and time again... so here's another challenge ;) Sometimes I feel like I get all the hard-to-diagnose problems... lol

So, I get home (car is fine at this point) and go to leave again about 3 hours later aaaannnndd.... car won't start. I put the key in, turn it, the check engine light comes on (mind you, it's been on because of an emission problem, so this isn't unusual) and the theft system light comes on, but nothing else happens. Dashboard is making random clicking noises. Upon rolling the car in neutral, ALL the lights and the radio come on, but the car still won't start. My dome light stays on the entire time my door is open, however. With the key out of the ignition, the dashboard is making random clicking noises, and occasionally will "whirrr" and the guages will all drop below their respective "zero" points, then back up to normal zeros and the whirring stops. The battery light was on at first, now it's not. I am so confused. The negative battery cable LOOKS ok, but there are wires visible where it connects to the metal base beneath the battery.
My brake pedal is also suddenly next to impossible to press down. Rock hard. (I have a very uneducated feeling that this may be a side effect of my mysterious electrical issue.)

ANY IDEAS? :D Please? Would it be safe to try jumping it if it IS the ground cable that's dead? I don't want to massively blow my electrical system and make my problem worse. :(

Note: I should add that after rolling it back into it's parking space, I tried to start it and all the lights came on like normal, and the starter DID engage (it made a pathetic attempt) but it was brief and the car didn't start and the lights and everything promptly died again. So I'm thinkin the starter and the battery are ok. Haven't checked fuses yet, waiting for the bf to get home and look at them.

11-04-2006, 05:56 PM
have you checked to see if your seal around your windshield is still sealed? i did not see the other posts on your issues. that wont fix your prob with the no start, but maybe this is the cause of the issues?

11-04-2006, 06:16 PM
all i can say is to check your grounds that u said run under the battery. follow them and make sure there is no battery acid or corrosion on them. i doubt it would hurt anything to jump it, but then again im not a mechanic therefore im not too sure.

11-05-2006, 08:55 PM
SunfireMtnDrftr: I may be female and fairly car-illiterate compared to the rest of you, but I am not stupid enough to think that my WINDSHIELD has anything to do with my ELECTRICAL problem. o.O Maybe you misread my post...

millrtime: My main concern about jumping it was the possibility that a relay or something may be fried and the reason the car isn't getting power is because it wouldn't be safe for it to get power... I'm not sure if, for instance, the theft system has engaged to protect the car, and if bypassing that and trying to jump the car would just make my problem worse. Thanks for the support, though. We're going to try and get under the car tomorrow to try and take a gander at the wires, and possibly jump it.

I was told that if the headlights dim when I crank the key to start the car, that means the starter is ok. Does this also apply with the dome light? (battery doesn't have enough juice left to power the headlights, but the dome light comes on and does dim when I try and start the car.) Would this possibly indicate that my starter is alright and getting juice, just maybe not enough?

Thank you everyone for the input so far!

11-06-2006, 11:45 AM
Just a Guess here but it could be as simple as a bad ground.check both of the battery cables to see if they are clean and tight also both ends .Green corrosion crap not good ,just has to be cleaned up. the battery is likely run down now if you have had lights on etc. As for the rock hard brakes if you have been moving the car and using the brakes and it has not been started ,they will do that .once you get the car started they should return to normal. when you get it started maybe you should take it to AUTOZONE to check for any codes in the system.Apparently it is free service in the U.S.A. Some people have all the luck .....LOL
As for sunfire mtn drftr ,he`s probably thinking water got down inside dash and is causing your problem, just a hunch. I wondered at that one also but after thinking about it ,you never know water and elecrtical do not mix

Good Luck Muff

11-07-2006, 10:42 AM
Possible Solution:
My money is on either bad battery or bad starter. More likely the latter.
1 - Go get the battery tested at any chain car-parts place (Advance, Auto Zone, etc). They should test it for free. That will tell you if the problem is there.
2 - Just replace the dang ground wire if you're that concerned. They're like $10 or so.
3 - If those don't, figure out how to replace a starter.

Other Stuff:
-That "whirring" is your fuel pump priming.
- Brake pedals also get hard hard if you press them when the car's not on.
- The CEL, battery, and theft lights come on when you first start a car anyways, if my memory serves me
- If your battery is too dead to power the headlights, it is sure as hell too dead to start a car. The dimming means very little. It just means the battery sending juice somewhere. Doesn't mean its powering anything.

11-07-2006, 02:22 PM
muff34: Water in the dash, that makes sense now. But I'm pretty sure my windshield is ok, and all my seals were checked a month or two ago when I got my full tune-up. I'll drag the battery across the street to Autozone when I get a chance.

OverAllComa: The whirring ISN'T my fuel pump priming - I know what that sounds like because I had to replace my fuel pump at one point. The whirring is coming from the steering column/dash, and now I have people telling me it might be my ignition switch (which is located there.)

I know all my dash lights come on when I start the car - it's MY car! However, the theft light is the only one coming on, and it's also STAYING on. So unless for some reason the theft light uses less power than all my other dash LEDs (note the sarcasm), I'm guessing this may be significant and thus included it.

I'm just trying to give as much information about the problem as I can. I'm not a super-duper car knowledge guru, and I'm trying to LEARN, just like everyone else. I'd much rather try and troubleshoot the problem myself and fix it than just drag it somewhere and have a mechanic do it.

11-08-2006, 05:26 AM
Autozone across the street some people have all the luck.....LOL . see if they will come over and scan the computer for trouble codes. Standard transmission eh .got some strong friends get in turn the key to run position ,shove in clutch ,put transmission in second gear ,get them to push when you get it rolling let out the clutch ,hopefully she`ll start.

03-02-2007, 12:58 AM
wife has a 2000 pontiac sunfire. month ago i call home on my break from work. she says her car broke down at the store. turned the key, tick tick tick. some guy scame over to help her. beat on the starter got it to start. wasnt ther for that. next day replaced starter cause a tick tick tick means low battery or bad solenoid. week after replacing, she calls me on her way home from work. dash lights are going all over the place. tach reads 0 rpm at 50 mph. full tank of gas gauge says empty. heat blowing through the car and temp at 0. was starting to get worried. couple days later finally got a chance to drive it. dash lights all come on and off. with a winding sound comeing from the dash. theft light and service light come on. start asking around. noone has any clues. ive spent years working on cars but never ran into a problem like this. next morning she has to take my pos to work cause he sunfire has a dead battery. jump start it and test alternator. 10 volts. replace alt. 12 volts until theft light kicks in then drops. passlock 1 and passlock 2 are supposed to disable the fuel pump to deter theft. once i get the car started it runs fine. if the theft system is engadged the yellow wire in your lock houseing send s the incorrect code to the bcm, for passlock 2, and the ipc for passlock 1. ive done my research into the the problem. learned all i could about passlock and how horrible it has been for general motors cars. ive tried all the bypass procedures for the teft system. none worked. cause for some reason my alt wont charge the battery. alt starter and battery were all tested and passed. so im curious if in the time you have had to fix the problem you found anything out that can help me before i put my freaking fist through the windsheild trying to track down a short or something. feel free to reply directly to my email would love to know this is fixable

03-02-2007, 03:16 PM
My problem turned out to be a slowly dying battery due to corroded cables. I was surprised to find out such a trivial thing could cause such weird symptoms, but that's all it was. The ticking from the dash turned out to be the ignition switch relay doing it's job (it was getting funky power signals, so it was clicking on to protect the starter from being fried by a potential battery issue.)

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