My car was running fine and the dummy lights started coming on. By the time I got home the battery was dead, so I replaced the alternator and the problem is still the same. Could the starter solenoid cause this problem also.
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Re: alternator vs starter solenoid
Starter solenoids only work when the ignition switch is in the start position. Otherwise there is no power to it so the solenoid would not figure in this fault.. The indications are loose battery wires or a dead battery. have the battery load tested and check the wiring for the alternator is in good condition and tight.
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Do you have a bad starter? also check for loose or dirty battery cables on both ends of cables as the starter does take a lot of pull and a dirty or loose cable won't give it the power to start but will let the lights work.
If you just hear a click, try this:
This procedure usually works:
·Check the battery cable connections:
Make sure the positive cable, makes a good connection at the battery and at the starter. Make sure the negative cable makes a good ground connection at the battery and (preferably) at the engine.
·Check the battery the simple way, like this:
Turn on the headlights, then try to start the car.If the headlights do not dim or go out, then the battery is likely ok.
·Check the starter and solenoid:
If the wiring looks ok, then look at the starter solenoid for a good connection, and proper voltage at the starter(10 volts minimum while cranking).
If the starter spins and no crank, the problem is most likely the Solenoid's bendix gear is stuck.
Have someone hit (not too hard) the starter while you try to start the car. This usually works by dislodging a stuck bendix gear.
·Make a simple test of the alternator:
If you can, somehow get the engine running, measure the voltage at the battery. It should be at least 13.6 volts to properly charge the battery.
If the car doesn't start with a jump you might have a bad alternator. The alternator supplies voltage to the car once the engine is running. If the battery is dead, and the alternator isn't putting out sufficient voltage, the engine cannot run. Then again sometimes a car with an extremely dead or internally shorted battery WON'T start with a jump. Replace the battery and try again.
Possible bad Starter motor. Possible dead battery. Possible bad Alternator resulting in a dead battery.
First try have someone hold the key in Full Start position, hear the click and tap on starter motor with a hammer. If it kicks in and starts up (be ready for that) then the starter is going bad and should be replaced. (Might get 3 -4 more starts like that)
BE VERY CAREFUL TO NOT TAP ON WIRES.
If there is no change, then you should be able to jump start it with cables from another battery/car.
Then you need to figure out if the battery is expired or if the Alternator is not charging enough.
You can do this with a multimeter on the battery. With engine running you should read about 14.5 volts or more, up to around 15 volts plus.. If not, if voltage is around 12 volts or lower, when running, then you will need to replace the Alternator.
If you are getting good voltage from the alternator, then you can assume you need to replace the battery. The other alternative is a short circuit draining the battery or you left a light on somwhere and drained it. Run the car for 30 to 40 mins minimum to recharge battery (idle is good). Or just use a battery charger. 10 amps for 3- 4 hours, or 2 amps overnight..
Hope this is helpful.
When you say "turn key dash lights go out and all is dead", do the lights come back on when you turn the key back to "off"?
With key off, try turning on your headlights- are they bright?
Flip to high beams-do they get brighter?
**If lights get dim while trying this, it's the battery-(dead/needs charged or replaced-which may have been caused by a bad alternator).
Leave lights on, now turn your ignition switch to "on"-do the lights get dim or go out?
Try and start the car-anything change?
If the lights were fine until you tried to start the car, more than likely your battery terminals need cleaning/tightening.
The lights should at least get dim when you try and start the car but only while the starter turns over: when the engine is running your lights (as well as all your other electrics) are powered by the alternator.
If you do all this and lights are okay all through this procedure, your problem is probably in your starter circuit. (Starter relay, ignition/key switch)
The clicking sound you hear when you turn the key is the starter solenoid trying to apply voltage to the starter. Try this, if you can see the starter tap it with a hammer and then try to start the car. this is an emergency make do.
The solenoid is a heavy duty relay that is capable of switching the high current requirements of the starter (up to 70 - 100 amps).
If it's clicking its closing. By the way a new starter will come with a new solenoid
I just replaced my starter in my F-150 today for the exact same problem. Cost $100