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Starting problem - engine will not crank

14855 Views 16 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  sofraj
First of all it might be easier to explain if you watch this video first.

I do realize the last sounds you hear are caused by draining the 12V battery. But the clunking sounds are baffling.

I just bought this car at auction in November. It had sat for about 4 years. Since my friend had bought a 2000 earlier this year i knew something of the car and its value. So without any other bidders I got it for $1000. It was a bit grimy from sitting but I drove it home and about 600 miles total since. The IMA (replaced in 2005) has been charging and discharging. All starting apparently has been with the IMA. The carfax is clean but lean in the last 30,000 miles. I've been in contact with the original servicing dealer but they are 150 miles away.

There was a problem with clutch free play so I took it to the local garage. However, starting it up that morning the Battery, Brake (I think, could be check engine) and IMA lights were on. It did start just fine, however, and I would say had slightly less than 50% SoC. The garage is only a mile away so I'm fairly certain SoC didn't change. It may have dropped while at the garage and as you can see in the video is only one bar. It has been quite cold.

So I'm working on several problems now. First, that banging noise was much more pronounced with a strong battery. Could the Starter motor be bad? What is that banging? It the electric motor engaged and not allowing the engine to start? I'm hoping it's the start motor.

Secondly, that Christmas tree on the dash that morning. I'm not sure they're all still lit since I haven't seen it run (my mechanic, btw, has zero Insight experience but is one I've used for years and trust). He did find codes 1449 and 1568. I know these are bad indicators. I can reset them and try again if I can ever get it started.

I tried other threads but couldn't find anything like this. I'd appreciate any and all help.
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If the ambient temperature is low, the 12 v. starter would be used to start the car. The fact that your IMA battery isn't working correctly might also result in the 12 v. starter being used.

It sounds like the starter motor solenoid might be repeatedly activating. But each time it does, the system voltage drops significantly as indicated by the dimming instrument panel lights. The low voltage might result in the starter solenoid returning to its normal position upon which it activates again, etc., etc. If the 12 v. battery is fully-charged and in good condition, the starter motor itself might be not working in some way causing a large electrical current draw and voltage drop. Or maybe the 12 v. battery is bad and just cannot provide the current required to start the car.

Because this car has been sitting for four years, the 12 v. battery would almost certainly have been bad when you bought the car unless it was replaced recently. But also, as indicated by the P1449 DTC, the IMA battery is also not working within spec. This is typical of an IMA battery that has been unused for such a long period. Its individual cells are almost certainly very unbalanced. You might be able to resurrect the IMA battery by using a custom IMA battery charger/balancer to rebalance the cells. But you might be better off in the long run to have your IMA battery rebuilt. Considering how little you paid for this car, even spending $1000-$1200 to have your IMA battery rebuilt would not make your total expenditure very great.

Other problems with hydraulic clutch and brake systems, the fuel system, etc., can result after long periods of storage, so you may have some other repairs ahead. But if the car is basically in good shape, spending some money to fix it up would still be worthwhile.
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Wild guess is that the car is trying to engage an IMA contactor and then the 12v battery can't do it so the display gets dim and it releases, the display and everything else powers up until it hits the IMA contactor.

The fast clicking when you try to start is the solenoid in the 12v starter sliding into the starting contact, then it hits the contact but the battery can't crank the starter and the voltage drop on the 12v battery allows the solenoid to slide back and once that battery recovers enough the solenoid slams the contact again, it does it a whole bunch of times really fast making that fast click.

Easy test for this: Jump start or at least put a charger on the battery for awhile, take it off and retry, I think you'll see a change pretty quick. If it starts fine when you jump start it, I'd point at the 12v battery needing a good extended charge or possibly replacement.

A seperate but important question, did the IMA just come on right when this happened(due to the 12v battery being dead) or shortly before this first happened? Has the 12v battery indicator been on while driving at all before this happened?
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Thanks for both replies. Some answers and more data.

The 12V battery was charged, has been charged since and has been boosted while starting. The only difference with a full charge is the banging is stronger.

Yes, the IMA light (and check engine and battery) came on in the morning prior to going to the garage. I do believe it started with the IMA as well. It ran as it always has, i.e. no noticeable problems (other than the original clutch issue).

I think either suggestion of a starter problem or IMA contactor are plausible. It seems to me if the starter isn't used often that it could "sieze" and could produce the banging. But I'd think it would happen once not repeatedly. It is still plausible.

As far as the contactor idea I'll have to find another place to take it. I suppose the dealer but I also suppose he'd be expensive.

UP to this point the IMA appeared to be working properly even with the long sitting period. As you say, though, I found a good deal so getting it rebuilt is possible if necessary.

But right now my big problem is just getting it to run. I'll work on it tomorrow and update the thread.

Thanks again. I appreciate any and all ideas.
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Another simple thing to check are the two engine-ground and transaxle-ground cables. These frequently corrode which can cause all sorts of odd electrical problems. These ground cables are located on the driver's side of the engine below the fuse box.
Will do. Thanks.
I'm with Art. My '00 had similar symptoms, less the starter clatter,
although my starter is a bit noisy. It all turned out to be a
poor ground connection; mine was due to hidden corrosion under the
ground wire terminal at the firewall where it pinches onto the
I still can't get it started. We've checked out the starter and grounds. Could this be something to do with the immobilizer and key programming? It's the same key I've been using but could it have become unprogrammed somehow?

Indications are the same as the video in the first post. The 12V battery has been charged and we've tried using a battery booster and jumper cables.

Is it possible that the IMA (or BCM or MCM or ECM) is trying to engage the electric motor and thus not allowing the engine to turn over with the starter?

What if I was to disconnect the battery (although not sure it wasn't disconnected while checking the starter yesterday) for 5 minutes, re-connecting and trying again? Kind of a master reset.
The starter motor should work even with the IMA battery
switched off.

I suppose you mean the starter motor does not spin..? (If
the starter motor spins the engine, but it will not start, that's
whole 'nother question)

If so there are many possibilities. There's a fuse/relay under
the dash, as well as a starter cut relay. Then there a clutch
switch. Plus a number of connections that could be too poor
to pass current...

I have a PDF file of the starter circuit, and a starter trouble
shooting guide, and would be glad to send it, if I knew how to
do so....

In the meantime you can do a voltage-drop test to the starter.
This is best done with 2 VOM's. One across the battery terminals,
the second between the negative battery post and the starter
terminal. Sometimes connections are so poor that when the
starter is activated, the circuit opens. If nothing happens and voltage
stays the same; time to check relays, cut outs/etc....

The starter itself can be checked by bypassing everything and
jumping it directly to the battery.
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Thanks for the info.

If you go up to my first post and watch the video link it might be easier to see/hear the problem. It's like the starter is pulsing on and off. Almost like something is frozen or locked. Everything under the hood seems to be running free when you pull or turn it. It's baffling. My mechanic (non-Insight) is trying hard with me but we're stumped.
You are right, I should have watched it first.
Sounds like a bad starter gear, or flywheel gear.
I'd say one or the other is missing a tooth.

Because of the frequency, I'd guess the flywheel.

You could remove the starter. If it's ok then turn
the engine by means of the bolt on the end of the
crankshaft and watch the flywheel gear teeth....
Not starting

We need to be sure the engine can turn over,

Don't try turning the engine over by spanner unless the spark plugs are removed, you might strip the bolt.

Remove spark plugs from the engine, select a gear, (I know it is a manual UP/DOWN indicators) and see if you can push the car along proving the engine is free to rotate

Then report back
Still trying but no update

Thanks for all the replies. But I have no update for today. The car is outside and with snow and cold today I don't think we'll get the chance to work on it. If we do I'll certainly let you know. If I had it home in my garage I'd be a lot happier. If there is no progress next week then I'll get it towed home (fyi: it's just a mile away at a service station parking lot)

I haven't seen it but supposedly the engine does try to turn when I turn the key on. But I don't honestly know if it tries to turn and then returns to the original position. Or if it moves to a point and then moves forward again from that point. It surely does sound as though something is stuck. Whether it's the starter, flywheel, the engine itself, I don't know.

He was to try a few things yesterday but I need to run down there and get an update.

Thanks again. I'll be back later.
have you tried to start the car with the min battery swiched off, the switch is under the mat in the cargo area in the back, under small aluminium pate held by 2 10 mm screws.

there is no harm to the car if the switch is of to start it and or drive it. You will just not have the benefits of the ima system

but in your case it might help you isolate the cause of the problem.

Once that switch is off it should behave like a regular car, only you might have to top up the regular battery (if it does not get recharged with the IMA switch off)..

worth a try in my opinion.

Fixed. It was a ground wire. I'm still not sure which one it was. I'll pick it up Monday. However, he did say it was obvious if you just look. I like my mechanic but since he's usually pretty busy I really think I'd have figured it out earlier if it had happened in my garage. I'd collect all of your suggestions and pass them on.

In the end I'm very greatful to all of you for helping me out.
OK you guys just saved me @ least one hundred dollars the video was especially helpful. both my ground wire were broke off. here is my question/problem. my car started its 2000 manual shift. but this is the first time I've ever heard the 12v starter being used its currently 60 degrees F i live in Ohio so yes it gets cold. in the two years since I've owned this car its always just done the kinda bump start im guessing thats the ima. my ima batt was replaced last year. thanks in advance for the help.
UPDATE: I took it out for a drive and noticed there was no assist. ima batt was charging and no trouble lights were on the dash.
Actually, I meant to post that about 2 weeks after the ground wire was fixed, I had the same problem again. As it turns out my mechanic fixed only the wire closer to the top. The other ground buried slightly further down was also broken. I took care of that one at home and it's been great ever since.

Moody, you caught that one, too, so good for you.

After I fixed the second ground it actually started off the 12V battery and starter. I would guess that's the first time it's done that in a while and certainly the first time for me. And the only time as well.

Hmm, no assist. Maybe take it for a longer drive and see how it goes. There have been times I thought the IMA wasn't charging or assisting when it should but afterward just seemed fine. Hopefully your's is OK.
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