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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My mechanic will diagnose this tomorrow, but I'd like to hear what people think...

Drove to a store normally, parked, went inside, came outside, and couldn't start the car. No starter action; some odd clicking from a relay somewhere (4 clicks? a code?) and a second or two of quivering of the speedometer needle. (As if the computer were trying to tell me something.)

I thought it was a dead battery, but the battery was 12.4 volts. Jump-starting didn't work. After a couple of minutes charging the battery from another car, it read 12.6 volts and the starter would click-click-click-click-click-click-click very fast for a couple of seconds, followed by the routine described above.

I also tried disconnecting the battery for half a minute or so, on the theory the computer was hung somehow.

What's up? The battery *is* old enough to be near end of life (4.5 years, cheap battery). But jump-starting wouldn't start the car.
 

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Check the connections to the starter and battery ground. Sounds like you can't deliver enough current to the starter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It was the battery, and nothing else. If I had just taken a guess based on symptoms, and not made any measurements, I would have been right. As it is, the following things threw me:
(1) Battery voltage, initially 12.4, got up to 12.9 after charging through jumper cables for a while, and that should be high enough.
(2) Jump-starting didn't work.
(3) Car had started OK, cold, half an hour earlier. It was warm when it failed to start.
I'm guessing the battery developed a high internal resistance -- perhaps suddenly, from something breaking? -- without actually losing any cells; hence the deceptive voltages. Why the jumper cables didn't work, I don't know.
 

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Yeah, I would have suggested the battery first if you hadn't tried jumpstarting it first. I would have thought that even with a completely bad battery you could still jumpstart the car off off another running vehicle. Maybe the cables, alligator clips, or the donor battery weren't up to the task. Make sure you get a pair that's 4 gauge or fatter. The real thin Chinese-made cables I see everywhere can barely handle 100 amps. Not worth the powder...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think that's it -- these were rather thin jumper cables. I'll mark them "for charging only" and get a better pair to actually carry with me. Before that, I'm going to test them to make sure they didn't actually burn out.
 
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