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97 probe no crank. where to start?

01-08-2008, 08:29 AM
My daughter parked her car the other night, everything was fine, tried to start it the next day but nothing happens so she assumes the battery is dead and waits for me to get home. I get home and check and the battery is fine, turn the ignition but it won't even try to turn over, the radio and gauges all activate but nothing else happens! What are some of the things I should look at first?


01-09-2008, 12:08 AM
Welcome to AF. Check the tightness of the battery cable clamps to ensure good electrical connections and inspect the entire length of each cable, looking for cracked or abraded insulation and frayed conductors. If corrosion (white fluffy powder) is present remove the cables from the terminals, clean them with a battery brush and reinstall them. Corrosion can be removed with a tooth brush, baking soda and water. Rinse well.

If the starter does not turn over at all when the switch is operated, make sure the shift lever is in neutral or park (Automatic) or that the clutch pedal is depressed (manual)

If the solenoid can't be heard clicking when the switch is activated either the battery is bad, the fuse or fusible link is burned (check engine compartment
100 amp fused link) or the solenoid itself is defective.

To check the solenoid connect a jumper lead from the + battery terminal to the small terminal on the starter solenoid. If the starter now works the solenoid is OK and the problem is in the ignition switch, neutral (or clutch) start switch or the wiring.

01-10-2008, 09:48 AM
Thanks for the reply! The cables look good and with clean terminals, I didn't find any blown fuses or melted wires yet, as soon as I can figure out a way to reach the solenoid I'll try the jumper then if that starts it I'll try a new ignition switch?

01-21-2008, 12:39 PM
Can you here the crickets in here?!

02-04-2008, 01:13 PM
Thinking it's the soleniod, how can I check it to be sure?

02-06-2008, 11:42 AM
Thinking it's the soleniod, how can I check it to be sure?
take the jumper cables and hold them to the starter, if it pops out, but doesn't spin than your solenoid is bad

02-07-2008, 07:36 AM
jumping across the two large posts on the soleniod causes the starter to spin but not pop out. What does that tell me?

02-26-2008, 08:13 AM
aslo I put a meter on the small wire on the soleniod and I get 10 volts when the key is turned to start. Still won't try to start. Any help?

02-27-2008, 10:27 AM

02-27-2008, 03:00 PM
sounds like the starter is bad. if you put power to it and it spins but doesn't engage there is one other thing you can try. try tapping on the starter with a hammer while putting power to it if that doesn't work its the starter/soleniod it's one piece right?

02-27-2008, 03:30 PM
(I put a meter on the small wire on the soleniod and I get 10 volts when the key is turned to start.)YOU should be reading battery voltage 12-13 v i'd make sure battery is fully charged!!!

02-27-2008, 07:24 PM
yea but if it was sittin for a day or two the voltage will drop. even on the coldest days 10 volts would still be enough to crank it over

02-29-2008, 05:01 AM
I had the starter and soleniod tested at Autozone and they are fine, Battery is new. I would think it should start with the 10V but it doesn't.

02-29-2008, 02:48 PM
i would go through the fuse blocks just to make sure its all good then the only thing left would be the ignition.

03-03-2008, 05:22 AM
i would go through the fuse blocks just to make sure its all good then the only thing left would be the ignition.

fuses and relays all good. how can it be the ignition switch?

03-06-2008, 05:18 PM
It could be a neutral safe switch if it is a manual trans it is a little switch down by the clutch. if it is an Auto I am not sure where it is at.

03-07-2008, 07:09 AM
It's an auto but I don't see how it could be the neutral safety switch or I wouldn't get any voltage at all.

03-08-2008, 01:54 PM
Could you clarify what the battery terminal voltage is with the vehicle at rest - i.e. after it's been standing for a while with the ignition switched off - it should be somewhere close to 12.6V. If the 10V which you mentioned is the battery terminal voltage when at rest, then it's completely flat and needs to be recharged.

If however, it is close to 12.6V and it's a new battery, and it falls to around 10V when attempting to start then that indicates significant current flow, which is normal, as the starter draws an extremely high current (even if it doesn't spin, there will still be a relatively large current flow through the very low resistance windings).

If the starter and solenoid have been tested and found to be good, and the battery is in a good state of charge, then I can only see two reasons for the engine failing to crank. First would be a high-resistance connection or cable, as described by Dave in post # 2. Second would be a seized engine, but let's hope not, eh. I'll describe the electrical checks first, but if access to the spark plugs is easy then you might want to remove the plugs and check for a seized engine first.

So, the electrical checks - you will already have done a thorough visual inspection, but before you can be certain that the cables and connections are good, you would need to hook a meter on there and check the voltage drop across the cables during attempted cranking. That's easier said than done, but with care it's possible, and with a special set of test leads terminating in insulated alligator clips, it's a simple job. Anyway, I'll describe the measurements, but first a word about your starter.

I believe this is a one-piece starter, where the solenoid is physically attached to the starter motor body. It will have three terminals - two large ones, which are the B and M terminals, and a smaller one which is the S terminal. There will be a heavy cable running from the battery positive terminal to the B terminal - this carries the high current (maybe a couple of hundred amps) to operate the starter motor. The little S terminal operates the solenoid and will likely be powered thus: fuse - to ignition switch - to transmission range sensor switch - to S terminal. When 12V is applied to the S terminal, two things happen - a lever is engaged to move the starter pinion forward and into engagement with the flywheel, and then a heavy copper contact bridges the B and M terminals, and passes current to the starter motor windings. The M terminal will have a short but heavy lead of just a few inches, to carry that current to the starter windings. The current, having flowed through the motor windings, then flows through the starter body, and into the engine block, and then returns to the battery via a heavy-duty ground strap, running from the engine block to the battery negative terminal. That ground strap will be expected to carry a couple of hundred amps, briefly, during starting, so it has to be in excellent condition and have clean connections at both ends - where it bolts to the engine block, and where it bolts to the battery negative terminal.

So, to return to the voltage measurements:

The first voltage you would be interested in would be the voltage drop from battery positive terminal to starter solenoid M terminal, measured whilst cranking (or at least, attempting to crank) - this should be not higher than 0.5 volts (positive meter lead to battery positive terminal, negative lead to starter solenoid M terminal). Note that this is actually two measurements in one - you're measuring the voltage drop across the cable, and also the drop across the solenoid bridging contact. If it's less than 0.5V then that's fine, but if it's significantly higher, then proceed to measure both items separately - voltage across the cable (battery positive terminal to solenoid B terminal), and then across the solenoid copper contact (B terminal to M terminal), to determine which one is causing the excessive voltage drop.

The second check would be across the engine ground strap, measured whilst attempting to crank - this should be not greater than 0.5 volts (positive meter lead to engine block, negative lead to battery negative terminal).

You would also want to measure the voltage at the smaller S terminal during attempted cranking, but you've already told us that is 10V.

Because of the massive currents which flow through the (extremely low resistance) starter motor windings, it only takes a tiny amount of extra resistance in the form of a bad cable or bad connection, to cause the starter to not operate. If you have such a fault then it will be revealed by those checks.

If you aren't dropping voltage across a bad cable or connection, and if the starter and solenoid have been found to be good, then my next check would be for a seized engine. On a manual I would just put it into fifth gear, ignition switched off, parking brake off and then push the car - if it isn't seized then I can push it without too much effort. I'm not familiar with automatics (I'm in the UK and almost all cars here are manuals) but I don't believe you have that option - I think you would need to remove the spark plugs and then try to turn the crankshaft pulley with a wrench. With the plugs out, it shouldn't be too difficult to turn, but if it were seized then you wouldn't be able to turn it.

Let me know if you don't follow any of that, and good luck.

03-11-2008, 01:02 PM
Thanks for the reply selectron! I wasn't able to check for voltage drop because my digital volt meter when set to D.C. doesn't have any decimal places, only reads a whole voltage. So I started to use jumper wires to determine if I had a bad cable, all checked the same until I ran a jumper off the little solenoid wire to the + battery terminal and it started. So I figured my problem was with that wire some where, began to trace the wire (not an easy task) while pullin on the other end of the wire loom (below airbox & behind radiator) I noticed a plug moving, when I pushed it it went about a half inch and snapped in place. Don't know how it came lose but that was it!

03-11-2008, 01:45 PM
Well it's good news that you found it then eh - I bet you were plenty surprised when it cranked into life once again. Dave did cover that possibility in post # 2, but not to worry - if you ever have to deal with a non-cranking vehicle again, you'll be better prepared for it. Thanks for letting us know what the fix was.

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