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Old 08-16-2006, 10:46 PM   #1
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Default Clicking noise when drivin, then car shuts down & cant *

My son was driving our 1998 Bonnie SE. He said he heard a loud 'clicking' sound coming from under the left side of the hood. Seconds later, all power was lost and the car stalled. We have not been able to start the car since. When we turn the key in the ignition, we hear one loud 'click' under the hood, then nothing happens. I am under the car when he tries to turn the ignition and it seems the loud 'click' is coming from the starter. I tapped on the starter lightly when my son tried to crank it, but nothing happened. I pulled the battery and had it checked and the battery is fine and has enough voltage to start the car (according to the NAPA technician). Any suggestions on 1)What the next diagnostic steps are, and 2)What the problem is?
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:11 AM   #2
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A bad starter won't stop a running engine. Check and clean both ends of both battery cables. Take apart the connections, clean them well, and reattach after putting on some dielectric grease and see if that helps.
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Old 08-17-2006, 03:10 AM   #3
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I absolutely agree. Each end of EVERY cable, positive and negative coming to or from the battery, starter, and alternator. Take them all off, clean, dielectric, and reassemble.
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Old 08-17-2006, 08:49 AM   #4
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Interesting thing is ..this task isn't half as bad as it sounds.. probably takes an hour for all cables.
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Old 08-17-2006, 10:47 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info guys.

I have noticed significant corrosion around the battery terminals when I took the battery to have it tested, so I will clean all battery, alternator, and starter cables, but I have a few questions first.

1. I have used baking soda and a wire brush in the past to clean battery terminals/cables. Are there any other ways/products to clean battery terminals/cables that is better than baking soda and a wire brush?

2. I have never cleaned alternator and starter cables before. What do I use to clean alternator and starter cables and what is the best method to clean them?
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:12 PM   #6
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Bakind soda and a wire brush is fine. Anything that will clean it up and leave a smooth surface. You'll want to keep from getting scratches in it, as that can reduce the contact area. On the battery side, remove the plastic covers over the cable as it can get pretty crudded up inside.

The starter end is easier to do if you drop the starter, and clean it that way. Otherwise, just remove the cable going to the starter (have the battery still disconnected) and use your wire brush there too, if you have room..

The connection at the alternator is not generally as much of a problem, but while you're working on things, may as well do it all. Remove the boot over the connection, remove the nut (again still having the battery disconnected), clean it up, apply dielectric grease and reattach.

Odds are these steps will solve your problem.
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:21 PM   #7
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If they only improve, but not solve or don't solve long term.. consider new cables.
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Old 08-17-2006, 11:32 PM   #8
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Bad News.....

I cleaned all the terminal connections (battery, alternator, and starter) with wire brush and applied dielectic grease. Tried starting, but same result.

Took voltmeter and measured output by the battery, which was around 8 volts or so. Took voltmeter and measured output by the starter connection from battery, which was around 8 volts or so. So, it looked like what the battery was outputting, the starter was receiving.

When trying to start, it sounded like the starter was pushing real hard. Took a wrench and manually cranked the engine 'backward' a bit (out of a hunch). When tried to start, the starter cranked the engine barely, then the engine stopped hard.

We then pulled the plugs to see condition of plugs and if there was anything 'unusual' in the cylinders. All plugs except the middle rear one were were normal and dry. The middle rear one was extremely oily and the tip looked like something hit it and it was pushed a bit sideways.

My friend then put his finger over the rear middle plug hole as I tried to start the car. We figured 150 psi of compression would be pushed out the plug hole, so his finger would be pushed out a bit. He felt no pressure whatsoever when I tried to start the car.

We are guessing 'something broke' in the rear middle cylinder...either a valve or piston. Our guess at this point is the motor is 'trashed' and its time for me to sell the car for parts. What a lousy way to start a weekend.......
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Old 08-17-2006, 11:43 PM   #9
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If the engine sudden stops while driving, especially if it makes noises like you describe, it'* a major mechanical problem.

I'd think about a used short block for a '98, depending on if you want to do all the work or not.
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Old 08-17-2006, 11:43 PM   #10
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Sorry to hear that...was hoping for better.
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