1990 Oldsmobile Cierra Cutlass

My Friend has a 1990 Oldsmobile Cierra Cutlass that will not start. Everytime she tryes to start it the most it will do is kick the fans on and make a clicking noise in the front left hand side of motor compartment. The oise sounds like it is coming out of three little canisters but i don’t know what the problem is or what the canisters are. I was thinking it could be something to do with the computer or something with the Ignition. I really dont know. Can someone help me?

Sorry it’s supposed to be Ciera…and someone please help me it’s really important.

We need more info first.

Any recent repairs done? If so, to what?

Last ‘tune up’?

Is this the second battery? Third one? Is the existing battery fully charged?

When the key is turned to start is all you get is a ‘clicking’ sound, but the starter will not engage to turn the engine over?

I think the canisters are the relays, including the starter relay and fan relay. I’d suspect that this noise is normal. Have you checked the battery or tried jumping it? That would be the first thing to check. After that you’d want to check the starter by jumping the solenoid. If that makes the starter engage, you’d want to check the starter relay and then finally the ignition switch. First check the battery and post back!

You can’t (shouldn’t) try to fix it. The battery terminals are dirty and should be disconnected and cleaned. Battery might have to be charged up. It’s not the computer.

I see no reason to suspect a computer. However I do see a reason to suspect the battery or changing system or cables. The battery and changing system can be checked by most auto parts stores, for free. The test they use is not 100% certain, but it usually is right. The battery cable fix involves removing both ends of each cable and cleaning them.

Supera13: What engine is in the Ciera? I may be able to help you further troubleshoot your challenge if I know what size engine. Olds typically used V-6 engines during that era. They were either a 3300 (3.3 litre) or a 3800 (3.8 litre) engines. Does your interior dome light come on when you open your door? How bright is it? How bright are your headlights? Just put them on for a short time or have someone pop the headlight switch while someone else observes the brightness of the headlights, then pop the headlight switch off. That’ll give you a clue. I would then have a reasonably knowledgeable person check the condition of the battery cables, both of them, and at each terminal for cleanliness and tightness. (See J.E. Meehan’s reply, above). Be sure to check the positive cable at the starter. The hex bolt securing the cable to the starter occasionally loosens up, but it is relatively rare. Whenever fooling around with batteries/related cables, wearing thin rubber or vinyl gloves is always a good idea. Even latex gloves work but you might find yourself changing latex gloves every once in a while. Battery acid burns like he77. Always wear safety eyewear, too. Now if you have properly secured the cables after ensuring that all corrosion is gone, try starting the vehicle again. If you experience the same symptoms, the fault most likely is a weak battery. If the battery is under 5 years old, you can try to get it slow charged. Re-install the battery. It should start and run o.k. If the battery is over 5 years old, and the re-charge of your existing battery worked, get on down to a store and buy a new battery rated for your vehicle. Also have them check the starting and charging systems. Your battery could be malfunctioning because your alternator is no longer serviceable. It is highly unlikely to be a problem with the “brains”, i.e.: the computer. While someone is checking underneath around the starter, take a close look at the (typically) three fusible links.