I have a 1999 Dodge Caravan which, up until Thursday afternoon, started up
with no issue. All of a sudden it won't start. It initially makes a noise
like it is going to turn over but then goes into juat a clicking mode. It
seems like the battery has charge - dashboard lights are strong, "ding"
noise is strong, interior lights and radio work. Should I still take the
battery in to have it checked? Any idea what else this could be -
alternator? starter? What else might it be? Any idea of repair cost?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Stranded in Arizona
That clicking sound says you don't have enough juice in the
battery to turn the engine over. It may well be able to light a
few lights or chime, but it takes the maximum to turn over the
engine. There may be additional problems, but the point of
beginning would be to jump the battery.
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
First thing to try is pulling off the cables from the battery. My son's 98
Voyager had a weird electrical problem, especially at startup, and it turned
out that the old cable clamps had been over-tightened so much over the years
that at least one of them no longer made solid connection to the battery
post. (Those clamps are lead and will bend around the post if you tighten
the bolt enough...) Please note that when I pulled the cables off, one side
had oxidation on the inside of the clamp and outside of the post -- sure
sign that they weren't touching much if at all. I pulled the bolts out of
the battery cable clamps, shaved a bit of the lead off from where the two
sides of the clamp were touching, and even straightened out the clamps a bit
by wedging the sides apart with a big flat screwdriver blade. Then I cleaned
the posts and the clamps until they were shiny (there's a cheap tool
available from any auto parts shop for doing this -- it's got inside and
outside wire brushes). When I put the cables back on the battery posts, the
clamps were very tight without the two sides of each clamp meeting each
other (as it should be). Then, just to be sure, I smeared the clamps & posts
with some grease specifically made for this purpose (the tube says "battery
terminal grease"), just to prevent further oxidation &/or corrosion.
Following this free fix his vehicle starts up and runs fine, with no sign of
the previous weird electrical problems.
If the battery cables are not making good connection to the battery, your
alternator can't put juice back into the battery, aside from not getting
enough out for running the starter motor (the biggest electrical draw in the
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