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Starter and Battery Issues


alternator battery starterQuestion:
My car suddenly would not start. It made a clicking noise when
I turned the ignition and the lights on dash/etc. came on when
I turned the key. I was able to jump start it easily, but it
wouldn’t hold a charge. I also cleaned the corrosion off the
battery and was able to start it…but then again, nothing.
I expected it was the battery and/or alternator. I took it
to a mechanic who insisted it was the starter and the battery/elec
system was getting a charge. He seemed like a decent guy.
But, then in the end…he replaced the starter and the battery.
Suddenly, he found a friend with a wrecked car and gave me that
starter for free…charging me 140 to install it and then the
battery cost/install. I am getting wildly different information
from people around me…some saying it would not be at all possible
to jump start that car if the starter were bad- yet others say it
could happen. Was he telling me the truth or have I just paid for
something that didn’t happen/not nec? Help?

The clicking noise is the solenoid, which is usually part of the
starter. Over time the solenoid contact points will arc from the
current flowing through the connection and will not make a good
connection to turn on the starter. You hear a click, but the starter
does not turn over. Sometimes a jump start will provide just enough
of an extra boost to overcome that corrosion on the solenoid. It’s
possible that is what was going on in your case.

Regarding the battery, your mechanic more than likely put a volt meter
on the battery with the engine running, this would tell him if the
alternator was charging. He may also have done a load test on the
battery to determine health of battery. If your battery was over 3
years old, it was probably a good idea to replace it anyway.

With all that said, the friend with a wrecked car sounds shady, and
$140 for install of a starter sounds high to me, he was most likely
hiding the cost of the used started in there. Most cars should take
an hour or less to replace the starter, at a shop rate of $60 – $80/hr
with an independent shop. This scenario also makes me think he could
have been hiding the fact that he did not change anything (Did he show
you the new/old starter?) since he was putting in a used starter, it
would be hard to determine if it was actually replaced since both
would look used. Hope that makes sense, and don’t want to say for
sure that was his motivation, but it’s always possible.

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Posted: 12th August 2016  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Electrical, Engine

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