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Old 08-11-2021, 11:33 AM   #1
Dan the Man
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2008 Astra XR
Default Won't Turn Over II

I have a 2008 Saturn Astra XR with 141,000 miles. 2 weeks ago the original alternator died, which I replaced along with the battery. Then 4 days ago it wouldn't start. I've now replaced the starter, a fuse, and a relay. The new battery is also fully charged. When I turn the key the starter goes clunk, as if it engages the flywheel, but it won't turn the flywheel. Just clunk, and that's it. The dash is showing a battery light, Insp 0, and the little fix your car indicator light. Something's obviously wrong somewhere, but I don't know where to begin troubleshooting this. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Dan
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Old 08-11-2021, 01:43 PM   #2
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Default Re: Won't Turn Over II

What OBD codes show up when you scan the car?

Did you try gently knocking on the starter body a few times to see if that would get the starter to work? At least that would show starter is failing.

Is that an OEM starter or aftermarket rebuilt?

First guess is a bad replacement starter.

BTW - Did you change the coil pack recently? Some of the aftermarket coilpacks seem to spike the ECU. But I don't think you would hear any noise from the relay or starter in that case.

This guy has some practical DIY analysis videos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RUhq7sXNBo
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Old 08-11-2021, 03:25 PM   #3
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2003 ION-2 Sedan
Default Re: Won't Turn Over II

I second what AstraFasta said about it being possibly a DOA new starter. But I also think the problem could lie somewhere in the hookup of the new starter and/or alternator wiring. Would your car happen to have a fusible link to the alternator that may have blown?

Have you checked the starter ground and power wires to make sure they're secure and have no corrosion or frayed wiring? Seems like the starter isn't getting enough power to rotate at speed, or it has failed right out of the box.
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Old 08-12-2021, 03:47 PM   #4
Dan the Man
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2008 Astra XR
Default Re: Won't Turn Over II

Guys thank you very much for your responses!

I'm rich with codes:
P0171
P0141
P0135
P2A00

These first 4 are all related to an O2 sensor, which I'm going to attempt to clean with some Mass Air Flow Sensor Cleaner.

Then I have 1 network and 1 chassis code:
U2105-00
C0240-71

My battery light is on, which is what happened when the alternator died. So I assume the battery is not being charged by the alternator.

There's nothing visibly wrong with the ECM or its 2 connectors. No corrosion. No bent, damaged, or missing pins.

The service manager at a repair shop I spoke with yesterday said it sounds to him like a short in the battery cables or one of the larger wires branching off from the battery cables, and going to the alternator or starter. That seems to make sense because of the problems I've had recently with the alternator, starter, & battery.

The alternator & battery were both bench tested to be bad at an AutoZone location in Missouri where I broke down the first time on this trip. So I replaced them both. In the parking lot of the AutoZone. Overnight with my headlamp. I have XXL sized hands (and body). Replacing the alternator was one of the harder repairs I've made on any car ever, but I got it done, it fixed the problem, and the car ran great...100% trouble free from Missouri to Troy MI, and then on to Muscatine Iowa where I'm stranded now.

Then one day out of the blue, car ran fine just like it had been going to work, but wouldn't start at lunch, and hasn't since.

A couple guys at work said It's the Starter, so I replaced that as well. That may have been a little more difficult than the alternator. It seems clear these cars were not intended to be repaired by mere mortals.

Damaged wiring somewhere, which connects the battery, alternator, starter, and ECM, sounds like the answer that makes the most sense to me. So that's what I'm going after next. The service manager guy said to look for places in the wires that are either too easy to bend, too hard, swollen, or that visually appear burned or different or damaged...or that feel different from the rest of the length of the wire in the event I can't actually see them - which seems to refer to most of them.

I have a little $10 test light thing that tests continuity with the electricity off, but I've no experience with using it, and not sure how it would help me narrow the search for a bad wire.

The reasons I don't think it's a bad replacement part are because the alternator worked just fine from MO to MI & IA, and the network codes.

If any of this sounds wrong, or like I'm heading in the wrong direction, Please say something fellas. Also, if you've any advice on how best to go about finding this bad wire, assuming there is one, again - Please let me know. I gotta fix this thing.

I can put the car in 2nd, roll it down a hill, and pop the clutch, and it fires immediately and runs just fine, except there are 3 lights on the dashboard: battery, check engine, and the one that looks like a little car.

The battery one makes me think the car is running on battery power alone, and the battery is not being charged by the alternator. That's what happened when I broke down and had to replace the alternator.

Of all these issues, that's the most concerning, because I could otherwise just not turn the car off, or be sure to park up-hill, and probably make it the 900 miles back to Fort Worth where I could work on this thing in my own driveway.

The battery light being on makes me think I wouldn't get very far down the road if I tried that.

Anyway...I'm rambling, exhausted, frustrated, sore, filthy, pissed off, and going broke fast from having to continue to extend my hotel stay.

Thanks again very much for your responses.

Dan
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Old 08-12-2021, 04:46 PM   #5
Dan the Man
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2008 Astra XR
Default Re: Won't Turn Over II

How do I tell if there's a fusable link to the alternator? Where would it be & what would it look like? In other words, are you referring to a fuse that's somewhere else besides in one of the 2 fuse boxes where all the other fuses & relays are?

Also, no I haven't banged on the starter. It engages. I can here the little post with the gear on the end pop out and into engagement with the flywheel every time I try to start the car, so I think your idea about the starter just not getting enough amps to spin the flywheel is on target.

But what would cause that? It's like it's getting some, but not enough boost from the battery. I guess now that I'm thinking about it, my experience has been wires and connectors either make a connection, or they don't, and not partially. However, I'm admittedly not the most experienced guy when I comes to automobile electrical issues.
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Old 08-12-2021, 05:21 PM   #6
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2003 ION-2 Sedan
Default Re: Won't Turn Over II

This info below comes from my service manual for your 2008 Astra. Perhaps it will be helpful in pinpointing the issue and fixing it. FYI...I don't see anything about a fusible link for the charging system, so I'm guesstimating there isn't one on your vehicle.

---

Charging System Test

Circuit/System Verification

Engine ON, observe the charge indicator on the instrument panel cluster (IPC) or message in the driver information center (DIC). The charge indicator on the IPC should be turned OFF and the DIC should not display charging system message.

If the charge indicator is not on the IPC or a charging system message is not displayed on the DIC, refer to Testing for Intermittent Conditions and Poor Connections.

If the charge indicator is on the IPC or a charging system message is displayed on the DIC, refer to Circuit/System Testing.

Circuit/System Testing

Ignition ON, verify that no generator or battery current sensor DTCs are set that would cause a charging system concern.

If DTCs are set, refer to Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) List - Vehicle.

Engine OFF, connect the SA9154Z-A Starting System Tester red lead to the battery positive terminal and the grey lead to the output circuit of the generator.

Engine ON, turn ON the SA9154Z-A Starting System Tester. Turn all vehicle accessories OFF and follow all the prompts.

Press the CHARGING SYSTEM TEST button. The display should read 13.0 − 15.5 volts.

If not within specified range, replace the generator.

Is the generator output current greater than or equal to the load test output value given in Generator Usage ?

If not within specified value, replace the generator.


----

Starter Solenoid Clicks, Engine Does Not Crank

Circuit/System Verification

Verify that battery is sufficiently charged and that the battery cables are clean and tight.

If the battery is not sufficiently charged, refer to Battery Charging

If battery cables are not torqued to within specified range, refer to Fastener Specifications.

Turn the ignition switch to the start position. The starter solenoid should click.

If starter solenoid does not click, refer to Starter Solenoid Does Not Click

Inspect the engine and belt drive system for mechanical binding, seized engine, or seized generator, etc.

If any of the conditions are observed, correct the condition.

Remove the drive belt, refer to Drive Belt Replacement

Turn the ignition switch to the START position. The engine should crank.

If the engine does not crank, refer to Engine Will Not Crank - Crankshaft Will Not Rotate

Using a DMM, measure between the positive battery cable and battery terminal at the solenoid as the ignition switch is turned to the START position. Voltage should be less than 0.5 volts.

If greater than the specified value, replace the positive battery cable.

Using a DMM, measure the negative battery cable to the starter motor case as the ignition switch is turned to the START position. Voltage should be less than 0.5 volts.

If greater than the specified value, replace the negative battery cable.

If all circuits test normal, test or replace the starter motor.

----

Starter Solenoid Does Not Click

Circuit/System Testing

Automatic Transmission Range Switch Malfunction

Ignition ON, verify that no transmission range switch DTCs are set. (DTC  P0705 etc.)

If DTCs are set diagnose those first.

Ignition ON, with transmission in PARK verify the scan tool TCM PNP Switch parameter displays In PARK.

If not the specified value, Transmission Range Switch Adjustment

Starter Relay Circuit Malfunction

Ignition OFF, disconnect the starter relay.

Ignition ON, verify a test lamp illuminates between the relay coil B+ circuit terminal  86 and ground.

If the test lamp did not illuminate , test the circuit for a short to ground or an open/high resistance.

Ignition ON, verify a test lamp illuminates between the relay switch B+ circuit terminal  30 and ground.

If the test lamp does not illuminate, test the B+ circuit for a short to ground or an open/high resistance.

Ensure the parking brake is applied and the transmission is in NEUTRAL on manual transmissions or PARK on automatic transmissions.

Momentarily install a 40A fused jumper wire between the B+ circuit terminal  30 and the control output circuit terminal  87. The starter solenoid should engage and the engine should begin cranking.

If the solenoid does not engage, test the control output circuit for a short to ground or an open/high resistance. If the circuit tests normal, replace the starter motor.

Connect a test lamp between the relay coil control circuit terminal  85 and the relay coil B+ circuit terminal  86.

With the transmission range selector in park / neutral on automatic transmissions or the clutch pedal fully depressed on manual transmissions cycle the ignition between the OFF and CRANK position. The test lamp should turn ON and OFF when changing between the commanded states.

If the test lamp is always ON, test the control circuit for a short to ground . If the circuit tests normal, replace the ECM.

If the test lamp is always OFF, test the control circuit for a short to voltage or an open/high resistance. If the circuit tests normal, replace the ECM.

If all circuits test normal, test or replace the starter relay.

Last edited by jarvis1906; 08-12-2021 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 08-12-2021, 06:58 PM   #7
Dan the Man
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Default Re: Won't Turn Over II

Wow! Thank you! Looks like I need to get myself one of those manuals.
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Old 08-12-2021, 09:56 PM   #8
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Default Re: Won't Turn Over II

In case you're overly concerned over nothing, the battery light is always ON along with the oil light when ignition is turned on before starting. The battery light is a basic way to inform you that the charging system (alternator, drive belt) aren't operating, yet. The same for the oil light; no oil pressure with light on until startup. The oil light is a low pressure indicator so as soon as the engine cranks or fires up, oil pressure builds up and turns off the light. The battery light turns off as soon as the engine cranks or fires up as the alternator begins outputting voltage and current, turning off the battery light.

Virtually every alternator wiring system uses a fusible link connecting the battery to the alternator (side post terminal, HOT). This looks like a plain insulated wire but is calibrated to have less stranded wires to limit the maximum amount of battery current if the alternator suffers an internal short. If a short occurs inside alternator circuitry, this would result in a dead short to the battery and probably create a lot of smoke. The fusible link wire acts as a wired fuse to burn up or open when a short occurs. This protects the battery from an alternator internal short circuit condition. Fusible link wires are rated from 25 amps or more depending on alternator rating. If your alternator is rated for 120 amps, a dead short will cause battery damage so the fusible link wire opens as a fuse against battery damage. Despite misinformation that this fusible link wire is grossly undersized when electrical systems aren't understood. Alternators charge thru its frame as ground thru the engine block and negative cable to the battery. Not thru the red battery cable to starter and fusible link calibrated to open around 25 amps or more. If you replaced the alternator, you didn't find a large gauge wire going from the starter to the alternator. If this fusible link wire blew with zero evidence of burned insulation, the battery light would stay on permanently whether the engine runs or not. The battery light would turn off when the ignition switch is turned off. Other indications of a blown fusible link wire would be dimming of instrument panel lights, dimming of headlights and if the engine runs then the electronics will begin acting erratic as the battery is the only power source as its drained without the alternator outputting.
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Old 08-13-2021, 02:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: Won't Turn Over II

Some excellent comments above.

Changing the alternator is rough and I don't know how you did it at night with a flashlight.

Thinking about typical Astra issues, we see batteries, alternators, and starters die from time to time.

Rebuilt alternators & starters frequently are dead on arrival or die after a short period of time, so those BOTH are suspect if you didn't buy OEM new, or premium brand (e.g. Bosch).

Just because the starter's engagement mechanism works does not mean that the power starting function works. Given you can start rolling down a hill, I would strongly suspect a bad starter, at least. Or starter terminals are not getting sufficient voltage (low battery voltage / frayed-poorly connected wires, etc.


Check the voltage of the battery at the terminals with a DMM. You should be around 12.6v with car off. If not, trickle charge it. You should be say 14v with engine on at the battery terminals.

We don't see many high voltage wiring issues. Although the battery terminals, grounds, etc. do tend to corrode and need cleaning from time to time. On occasion, the ECU / security system goes. Or camshaft sensor goes.
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Old 08-16-2021, 05:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Won't Turn Over II

As astrafasta said. You could have gotten a defective starter. In my case I had to replace the alternator three times in a row!!

First alternator off autozone lasted a month or two, and then starting making a turbo noise a week before it died completely.

Bought a different one from advance auto, and it died a couple days later too. Then I got a better brand (not oem) and it's been in the car for about a year.

I'll never buy another off brand alt or starter for this car. The alternator is hard to reach, but after the third time I could replace it with one hand while eating a sandwich with the other.
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Old 08-18-2021, 05:15 PM   #11
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Default Re: Won't Turn Over II

What a rollercoaster ride! I've gone from loving my little Astra, to hating it, to loving it all over again in the span of a week.

I also love and admire you guys for your dedication to this forum and providing this information with the integrity and passion you do.

It turns out that this thing Did have a fusable link. It was a 175 amp "fuse" on the positive battery cable strategically placed to be all but impossible to see from above or below the motor. Having zero experience with such a thing, I'd have never found it. But in looking I learned more in a week about this vehicle than I probably ever would otherwise have.

The good news is I'm back on the road, and the ancillary repairs I made during this process have the car running better than it ever has. I don't even want to know what might have caused such a gigantic fuse to fail, but I'm confident I can keep this little puppy humming for another 17,000 miles at least.

I'm driving from Fort Worth to Florida City in a couple days and hopefully you won't hear from me again for a while.

Thanks again so much for your help!

Dan
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Old 09-02-2021, 07:52 PM   #12
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Default Re: Won't Turn Over II

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan the Man View Post
What a rollercoaster ride! I've gone from loving my little Astra, to hating it, to loving it all over again in the span of a week.

I also love and admire you guys for your dedication to this forum and providing this information with the integrity and passion you do.

It turns out that this thing Did have a fusable link. It was a 175 amp "fuse" on the positive battery cable strategically placed to be all but impossible to see from above or below the motor. Having zero experience with such a thing, I'd have never found it. But in looking I learned more in a week about this vehicle than I probably ever would otherwise have.

The good news is I'm back on the road, and the ancillary repairs I made during this process have the car running better than it ever has. I don't even want to know what might have caused such a gigantic fuse to fail, but I'm confident I can keep this little puppy humming for another 17,000 miles at least.

I'm driving from Fort Worth to Florida City in a couple days and hopefully you won't hear from me again for a while.

Thanks again so much for your help!

Dan


So the fusible link was the culprit. Interesting, and good info.
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