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DU Car Experts: Is my starter going out?

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NickB79 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-08-05 10:48 PM
Original message
DU Car Experts: Is my starter going out?
I drive a 1998 Ford Taurus that has almost 160,000 miles on it. I bought it used from a friend of my mom's boyfriend. I was told when I bought it that the original engine had problems and was replaced by Ford at 75,000 miles, while the transmission is original. According to my mom's boyfriend, the guy is honest, so I don't have to question whether or not this is true. So, that means the engine technically only has 85,000 miles on it. Other than that, there is nothing mechanically wrong with the car, and I've really enjoyed driving it.

Over the past few months I have had more and more trouble starting my car, however. At first I chalked it up to the cold (I live in Minnesota). However, it has been getting worse, even as the weather has been improving. At times, it can take 3 or 4 tries to start. I'll turn the key, it will turn over and sound like it's gonna start, but it doesn't. After a couple of tries, it finally catches, but just barely, making a sputtering noise before it revs up. It did this over the weekend when I was leaving my mom's place, and she said it sounded like the starter was going out. My dad, on the other hand, thought it might just need new spark plugs.

Anyone have any ideas what this could be? My dad and brother can help me find a used starter to install, and we could do it ourselves rather than pay a mechanic (my dad fixes all his own tractors and my brother is a mechanic himself). Would I be better off buying a new starter, a factory-refurbished one, or a used one in decent shape? I'd like to get another few yrs of driving out of this car before I junk it out. Thanks.
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xray s Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-08-05 10:55 PM
Response to Original message
1. Doesn't sound like the starter
Starters don't cause an engine to sputter when the engine catches.

You probably have a squirrel living in the cylinder head, trying to get out of the Minnesota weather. :)

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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-08-05 10:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. No Click Click sound? i.e. Just Click Click when you turn the key
Edited on Tue Mar-08-05 11:01 PM by happyslug
That is generally what happens when a starter goes, you turn the key and get a click, Click, Click and nothing else.

I suspect either the battery or the Alternator. Either the Battery is NOT retaining enough charge to turn over the Starter (Which would explain the sound you here) or the Alternator is giving out (i.e. not charging the Battery enough).

Before I do ANYTHING I would change the Battery with the biggest battery you can get into that Car. Batteries only last 3-4 years in Cold Weather (and you are in Minnesota).

After that check your electrical gage (If you have one) if it is over to the half way you may have a bad battery and or Alternator. After the Battery I would change the Alternator (Or get it rebuilt).

Generally the Alternator is easy to replace, Just remove the belt and replace the Alternator (It is generally right on top of the Engine).

Alternators generally run about $100-200. When mine went out in my 1982 Chevrolet pickup my father rebuilt with my alternator with new bruising that costs about $2.00. Remember your car is a DC system so the Alternator uses coil going around a magnet to produce electrical power. These coils or Bruising wear out and if replaced the Alternator runs as god as new.
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EC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-08-05 10:56 PM
Response to Original message
3. Sounds like it, but it could just be a relay switch
or a computer melfuntion in the brain-box... Start by changing spark-plugs and changing oil, have battery checked. If that's not it, take it to a garage that will hook it up to the computer and have it tested, (that's usually less than 15.00, and go from there...
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ChoralScholar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-08-05 10:57 PM
Response to Original message
4. whoa whoa....
Edited on Tue Mar-08-05 10:58 PM by ChoralScholar
If you turn the key and your motor turns over, your starter and solenoid are fine, trust me.

If it is taking a while to 'catch' and then sputters when it finally does, the problem is fuel-related or electrical-related.

The cheapest place to start is to have your fuel pressure checked at the fuel rail. If your fuel pump is getting weak, it could take a bit for enough fuel pressure to build up to start the car. (your fuel pump is located on top of the fuel tank, and is changeable by amateur mechanics)

From there, you should check your fuel filter most likely, and then work your way through checking the quality of your sparkplugs, wires, the MAF sensor and MAP sensor. On a final resort, you should then check the coil pack.

I think you'll find your problem way before you get there, though.
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