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Oh boy do I need help!

 
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Old 03 Nov 2009, 04:04 am
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Unhappy Oh boy do I need help!

Hello! I have a beautiful green 2001 Special Edition PT with about 90,000 miles. I've owned this car for nearly 2 years, have had no major problems, replaced the spark plugs several months ago and the battery about a month ago.

The car has always started and ran strong. I've loved it until about a week ago. I went out to start her up and all I got was a "click". There was still power to everything else.. but it would not even try to turn over.

Tried jumping the car, nothing. Disconnected the negative battery wire, cleaned a little dust of the post, hooked it back up... nothing. Well.. nothing but the click.

With a little help I followed the clicking noise to the worlds worst positioned starter ever and decided this MUST be the culprit.

That's how I found your forum. I don't think I would've been able to get the starter out if it weren't for the earlier posts I saw on here about going at it through the top of the engine.

ANYWAY, long story short. It wasn't the starter. I took it to Advance and it tested fine. Reconnected everything, closed the hood, tried the car again and it started right up. I was SOOO Happy. I turned it off, tried it again... again it started. I should mention over the past week it has done this off and on, but only after the negative cable was left off the battery for a while... and not consistently sometimes it would just click. Other times it would start.

This time I decided to drive it up to Advance and see if they could scan it. They did an electrical test which showed everything was fine (as far as that goes) and told me that since my check engine light wasn't on they really couldn't do anything else. The car turned off and started up again just fine there.

I figured it must've just been a loose connection or something, got home, turned it off... and just out of curiosity tried to start it up one more time before going inside. "Click"

Back to square one. I don't know what the heck is wrong with it. ANY help... ideas, ANYTHING would be very very very appreciated.

Thanks SO much! Sorry that post was so long.

OH! I should also mention I tried retrieving the code, but this was AFTER I had disconnected the battery... so the only code I got was that the battery had been recently disconnected. And I don't know if this matters at all, but after I put the car back together and was connecting the negative cable to the battery there was a small spark between the post and the connector itself, which seemed to trigger my car alarm.
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Old 03 Nov 2009, 07:38 am
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Default Re: Oh boy do I need help!

Welcome.
My hunch is your ignition switch.
When it does "click" - try pushing in on the key and see if that works.
If your starter, battery, and connections are all good, that's what I'd look at.
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Old 03 Nov 2009, 02:52 pm
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Default Re: Oh boy do I need help!

While I have only had my PT a few days, most vehicles have a starter solenoid/relay switch. These can go out and give you the same dead battery/dead starter clicks. And sometimes they act up for a while intermittently before they totally fail. I've had my old '83 Ford F150 for 250k and I think I've had to replace this relay twice. Inexpensive easy fix. Hope that's it for you!
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Old 03 Nov 2009, 04:50 pm
quicksilverdon's Avatar
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Default Re: Oh boy do I need help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdynaco View Post
While I have only had my PT a few days, most vehicles have a starter solenoid/relay switch. These can go out and give you the same dead battery/dead starter clicks. And sometimes they act up for a while intermittently before they totally fail. I've had my old '83 Ford F150 for 250k and I think I've had to replace this relay twice. Inexpensive easy fix. Hope that's it for you!
The solenoid, I believe, is in with the starter, which has been replaced.
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Old 03 Nov 2009, 06:14 pm
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Default Re: Oh boy do I need help!

Here are a few old school things to try. The little wire on the solenoid on top of the starter is the wire that makes the solenoid engage the starter. When the key is turned to the run position you should have 12 volts at that wire. If you do then you still have problem with your starter or solenoid. If not then you have to work your way back through the wiring system, switches, and relays that may be in the system.
Another thing to try, there is a switch in the gear selector lever to make sure you only start in neutral or park (if a manual there is an equivalent clutch pedal switch). You should try jiggling the lever in park and/or neutral to see if that fixes it.
Let us know what you find.
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Old 03 Nov 2009, 06:18 pm
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Default Re: Oh boy do I need help!

Correction to my previous note. "When the key is in the start position (not run) you should have 12 volts.
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Old 03 Nov 2009, 07:24 pm
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Default Re: Oh boy do I need help!

I forgot to mention, I had previously tried wiggling the key in the ignition, and checking to make sure my shifter was in the right spot (automatic btw). Neither one of those seemed to be the cause. I was curious if there is some sort of fuse I should be checking? I haven't checked the voltage going through to the starter with the ignition key switched to the "on" position, I'm guessing I would need some sort of volt meter for that, which I unfortunately do not have. I will ask around and see if I can borrow one from someone.

The starter itself is good.

I was also curious about something I read concerning the SKIM, and am wondering if this could be something that maybe is preventing my car from starting? Yesterday it started up 3 times, but not the 4th try.
How would I check that?

Again, thank you for all your help!
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Old 03 Nov 2009, 08:56 pm
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Default Re: Oh boy do I need help!

Both of my PT's have experienced this exact problem.
First a year ago, then the other did it last week.
The troubleshooting was very easy.
When I realized that jumping did not help her at all, I took the positive cable and reached down carefully to the starter solenoid and clamped onto the red plus connection there. Got in, started right up.
In both cases the cable connecting the battery plus post to the starter solenoid main terminal had failed.
You could replace the battery cable or do what I've done.
Leave everything intact but add a heavy, new, short generic cable from the clamp tightening nut down to the starter. takes about five minutes, lasts forever.
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Old 04 Nov 2009, 07:36 pm
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Default Re: Oh boy do I need help!

If it will start in neutral but not park, the linkage may need adjustment. Not serious.
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Old 12 Nov 2009, 09:19 am
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Default Re: Oh boy do I need help!

Turned out to be corrosion on the positive battery cable under the plate that connects the clamp to the post. Got it cleaned up, and everything was great until (yep, there's an "until") the check engine light came on yesterday. The code came up as 0401.

I have a powertrain warranty, I'm wondering if this would be something covered under that?
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