The clicking sound you heard most likely the starter solenoid engaging the starter. Only in this case it's failing to engage the starter. This is a classic symptom of a low battery. Here's why.
In a perfect world, when you turn the key to start:
- the solenoid is fed 12VDC which engages an electromagnetic coil inside it.
- A spring loaded steel piston inside this coil reacts to the magnetic field. It is pulled against the spring. By itself this sounds like a loud decisive CLICK.
- The movement of the piston simultaneously pushes the starter gear into the flywheel and sends power to the starter via heavy duty contacts. The starter draws a lot of power.
- The starter spins, turns the engine, the engine starts, life is good.
- When the key is released, the solenoid disengages, the spring pushes the piston back, the starter gear disengages from the flywheel.
In our world, when you turn the key to start:
- The solenoid which draws it's share of power engages as before. Click.
- As the
starter tries to spin, the power available is insufficient. It draws all remaining power, there isn't enough left to keep the solenoid
active and it turns off.
- Since the starter isn't drawing power anymore,
the solenoid re-engages and the cycle starts over. Click.
- The cycle repeats. Click. A series of rapid
clicks. Same page?
While a dead battery is the prime suspect, there can be other causes. Things to do:
- Check belts, specifically on the alternator.
- Terminal connections clean and tight.
- In the 'Let's not over look the obvious' department: Battery voltage?
- Get a jump. Try a jump start.
- If a jump gets you going, it is either the battery not holding a
charge or the alternator not providing one.
Even new batteries can be bad off
the shelf. Especially if they have been on that shelf for a while. They
may show the voltage but not the amps. This is called a 'Surface
If you don't have a voltmeter, what you need to do now is visit
an auto parts store (not a shop). Most (in the hope of making a sale)
will provide free testing of batteries and charging systems.
What you need is called a "Load Test" on the battery.
It simulates the load of an engine being started. This will confirm the
battery is good or bad.
Then with the car running, they need to
check the voltage to the battery (they will know this). If it's not
above +13VDC, the alternator is bad or not connected correctly.
And if it doesn't start, what better place to be?
Let me know what they and you find out by commenting.