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Old 10-05-2008, 03:57 AM   #1
roo243
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Question 97 Saturn SC1- Irregular Starting Issues

Ok, so this is my first time posting anything on these forums so please bear with me. A few months ago I purchased a 97 Saturn SC1 from my brother. After driving it for about a month, I started having problems.

I went to the gas station one day and filled up. After I was finished pumping, I went to start my car and it wouldn't turn over. It fact it wouldn't even crank. At first I assumed that it was an issue with either the battery or the alternator because when I turned the key I could hear the click of the solenoid, but the car refused to proceed with ignition. After that a kind elderly man (who forgot to pay for his gas oddly enough) jumped my car. With my suspicions confirmed, I went to work. When I was done with work, my car wouldn't start at first but I managed to get it running. I immediately took the car to AutoZone and had my alternator tested. The guy there told me that the alternator wasn't putting out anywhere near the prescribed voltage. So, after $150 and a bit of hard work, I had replaced the alternator. That night I took my wife out and we had some fun. When the night was over I went to start my car. Big shock, it wouldn't start.

A mechanic friend of mine suggested buying a new battery. So, I did. The car started and ran. Then a few days later when I went to start it again, I had the same problem. Solenoid click, no crank. So I then proceeded to replace the starter. The starter seemed to fix the problem but then it gave me the same old symptoms and a couple new ones.

Now, when I turn the key I don't even get any dash-panel lights. I can't even get the car to click. Someone suggested an Ignition Control Module, but I don't want to spend another $180 on something that won't help me. Also, after some research, most people don't seem to have any problems getting dash-panel lights when they are having ICM issues. PLEASE HELP ME. I have two kids and I really need this car. Any insight would be phenomenal.

Thanks in advance,
Patrick Rizer

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Old 10-05-2008, 07:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: 97 Saturn SC1- Irregular Starting Issues

Well lets see, a starting circuit consists of the battery, battery cables, and starter. The alternator replacement is to ensure the car has a steady supply of electricity and charge the battery. Replacing the alternator, starter, and battery now leaves you with battery cables. Did it occur to you that the most important electrical connections are the main cables tieing the battery to the rest of the electrical system? If there's any corrosion on either battery terminals, this can cause all sorts of starting/charging/lost electrical functions from lack of battery cable maintenance. Past new car batteries caused severe corrosion from terminal cracking resulting in battery acid leaking into the cable destroying the wire strands underneath the heavy insulation - expensive repairs done at the dealer when simple cable maintenance would have revealed a faulty battery and corroded cable. Instead of an expensive repair it would have been at least half the cost to DIY. Are your battery cables corroded, ground connection too?

On the bright side, you've replaced most items that were about due.

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Old 10-05-2008, 12:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: 97 Saturn SC1- Irregular Starting Issues

I'm going out to check on my battery cables now. The only thing that I don't understand is why the car would start after sitting for a few hours in the past but now it won't even do that. Shouldn't battery cables be a semi-constant problem if that is indeed the issue?

Patrick

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Old 10-05-2008, 12:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: 97 Saturn SC1- Irregular Starting Issues

Along with everything fdryer said, I have bought more than one alternator from autozone that was dead right out of the box.
If everything else checks out, have the "new" alternator tested. It would not suprise me at all if it was bad....

Good luck!

Rick

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2001 SL1 Auto 298,252 miles
1997 Sl1 Auto 163,266 miles

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Old 10-05-2008, 01:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: 97 Saturn SC1- Irregular Starting Issues

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Originally Posted by rickystarshine View Post
Along with everything fdryer said, I have bought more than one alternator from autozone that was dead right out of the box.
If everything else checks out, have the "new" alternator tested. It would not suprise me at all if it was bad....

Good luck!

Rick
Thanks Rick. If I could get the [expletive deleted by user] thing to start, I'd have AutoZone test my alternator.

Patrick

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Old 10-05-2008, 01:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: 97 Saturn SC1- Irregular Starting Issues

Consider the little known fact that battery cables supply anywhere from 50-250amps of welding current to the starter, the only time battery cables of large gauge are needed otherwise they can be smaller gauge but they're not. Corrosion that severely destroys the copper wire strands hidden from view will do exactly as you describe - semi constant, neither constant nor semi as poor electrical conduction leads to a hit or miss electrical system. Having a good main electrical system free and clean of corrosion will prevent poor starting especially in the dead of winter when everything is stone cold and the battery is really needed to crank the engine over. If there's a worst case scenario its cold winter starts where the oil gelled and the starter needs the most out of a cold battery to supply more current to turn over the engine. Now the battery cables have to be in tip top condition as any looseness or corrosion translates to poor electrical conduction that leads to heating the connection instead of being used to feed battery juice to the starter. There's a perfectly good reason many cars don't start in winter and poor battery and cables are two major causes as well as simply poor maintenance

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Old 10-05-2008, 02:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: 97 Saturn SC1- Irregular Starting Issues

Ignition switch

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Old 10-05-2008, 05:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: 97 Saturn SC1- Irregular Starting Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Well lets see, a starting circuit consists of the battery, battery cables, and starter. The alternator replacement is to ensure the car has a steady supply of electricity and charge the battery. Replacing the alternator, starter, and battery now leaves you with battery cables. Did it occur to you that the most important electrical connections are the main cables tieing the battery to the rest of the electrical system? If there's any corrosion on either battery terminals, this can cause all sorts of starting/charging/lost electrical functions from lack of battery cable maintenance. Past new car batteries caused severe corrosion from terminal cracking resulting in battery acid leaking into the cable destroying the wire strands underneath the heavy insulation - expensive repairs done at the dealer when simple cable maintenance would have revealed a faulty battery and corroded cable. Instead of an expensive repair it would have been at least half the cost to DIY. Are your battery cables corroded, ground connection too?

On the bright side, you've replaced most items that were about due.
Well kids, fdryer got it right. I figured that before I spent another $150 on something I didn't need I'd check the terminals. So, long story short, there was a massive alkali build up inside of the positive terminal. I scraped it off with a ballpoint pen (high tech gadget) and the car fired right up. Appearantly, my old battery had been corroding the terminal for some time. I've been driving around today with no further problems. This is a thank you for everyone involved. The insight from the gear-heads on this site will keep me coming back for more assistance in the future.

Sincerely,
Patrick Rizer


PS- Thanks fdryer.

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Old 10-05-2008, 05:41 PM   #9
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Default Re: 97 Saturn SC1- Irregular Starting Issues

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..... scraped it off with a ballpoint pen (high tech gadget) and the car fired right up.
Ha-ha, lol!? I'm gonna' have to remember that one! I love it when a little ingenuity goes the distance.

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