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Discussion Starter #1
Ok so here's my new dillema...every once in a while I go to start up my car and nothing. And I mean nothing. "Sounds" (and I use it in quotes because there really arent any sounds whatsoever coming from the vehicle) as if the car is completely dead. However, if I turn the key and hold it the car will start after a few seconds. Last night I went to start the car and it did the same thing, only this time when I held the key the dashboard lights slowly go brighter and the car suddenly started (when it does start it sounds fine) but all of my radio stations had defaulted and the clock was reading 12 (like there was an electrical failure). Can anyone tell me whats wrong with it?
 

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Did you rule out the battery entirely? My two guesses are:

1) Battery has gone bad, bad cell. Symptoms: The car, if it can be started, runs perfectly while it's on, but you constantly have trouble starting it, lights are dim when car is off, radio doesn't work while car is off.
2) Alternator is bad, so battery will not be charged, or only slowly be charged. The symptoms at first glance are similar, but the difference is that the car won't run very well (or at all) if the alternator is going bad.

From the sounds of it, it seems to be #1. If it's worse on cold mornings, your battery may still be OK but the CCAs are lower than recommended. You can take your car into an AutoZone or something, and they'll generally test the battery for free. If that comes back OK, I'd take a look at the alternator. Unfortunately, I don't know of any free ways to test the alternator's output.

Disclaimer: this all is knowledge from my own experience, and may not actually be how cars truly work. However, in my experience, that's how my cars have worked :)

Hope this helps in some way or another :)
-Jon
 

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Discussion Starter #6
thanks for the input- im actually guessing you might be closer with your second option- because now the car doesnt start at all. in fact its stuck at my job- and has been since i left there thurs night. went back to test the battery and that was fine- so my guess? its either the alternator or the starter (now all i hear is tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick- you get the picture).

what do you suggest? i mean the car does have over 100,000 miles on it :)

-dawn
 

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You could have run the battery down trying to start it. Without it running for a while it won't charge and turning it over and over trying to get it to start is definitely not charging the battery. :p
Anyway, go buy a new one and pop it on there. See if it starts. I don't know for sure, but I THINK some auto parts places will test your alternator in the car, take it there for a check up.
 

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2003 Kia Sorento
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If you had a shorted or bad cell, the battery would read 12V, but would still act dead. The tick,tick,tick you hear is probably the starter, because it's not getting the amps it needs to turn over the engine.

If you've got over 100,000 miles on it, I'd start with the battery, because even if it's not the problem, it will be soon.

Also, check the cable going to the starter and make sure it's tight.
 

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Check your starter connections

I had the same thing happen with a '94 Ford Aspire (aka Kia Avella).

Take a small wrench and gently loosen and tighten the nuts holding down the power and ground leads on the starter.

Also wiggle the starter relay connector or pull it off and spray the connector with electrical contact cleaner. Use the kind that leaves a lubricant protectant.

Spray down the power lead nuts too.

This all assumes that you're getting power to the starter, but I had this happen last summer. We live in a fairly high humidity area here on Vancouver Island and over time metals build up a patina that will act as an insulatore. The Aspire was somewhat more prone to this for some reason, but after I went through the car's light switches and stuff for similar problems and I haven't had any malfunctions since.

I'm now selling that car because I bought a 2002 Rio RX-V which I'm sure will be as great a car as the Aspire.

Good luck with your fix.
 

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2005 Kia Rio; 1983 Cadillac DeVille; 2003 Mazda Protege; 1990 Honda CRX
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Actually a car not starting has more posibilities than just a starter or battery. If you have to hold down the key on the start position a few seconds, it could be that your ignition is on it's way out. Meaning that it's not sending the electric signal to the solenoid to allow the starter access to battery power. The alternator has nothing to do with starting, it's main purpose is to maintain the battery topped off and to power the accessories of a vehicle. In my opinion, take the car to an automotive electrician, who preferrably is ASE certified in his chosen field. And have them take a look at your car.
 
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