1998 chevy malibu


I have a 1998 chevy malibu 3.1, it died on me yesterday. it will not start, i tried charging the battery but that didn’t help, i even bought a new one with the same results. when i try to turn it over the head lights and radio clock go dim. if anyone has any suggestion about this problem ,please help.


The problem might be with the positive battery cable.

If you look at the cables where they connect to the battery, they have rubber covers. It’s under the red rubber cover on positive cable where corrosion can form causing a voltage drop. Which will cause all the problems you’re having.

Disconnect the negative cable first and then the positive. Peel back the red rubber cover for the positive cable, and if you find a white/greenish powder-like substance, that’s the problem. If the cable end is heavily corroded, replace the cable.



I did replace the positive cable but still won’t start.


Another thing that can cause this is a defective starter.

If the starter is worn to the point where is won’t spin, the current draw from the battery to the starter will also cause the lights to dim. And of course the engine won’t start because the starter is bad.



you know when i try to turn it over go to the off position i hear clicking noise but i have no idea where it is coming from.


That’s the starter relay disengaging. Which is mounted on the starter.



so you think i should go ahead and replace it?


is the starter relay the same as the slenoid?


If it’s easy to get to the starter, bang on it with a baseball bat or something similar and then try starting the car. If it starts, you found the problem. But if still doesn’t start, the starter could still be the problem. One way to test for a bad starter is to measure the current draw of the starter. But this requires an ammeter that can measure that amount of current. Not cheap! So the next best thing to do is remove the starter and bring it to a parts store that will test it for you before purchasing a replacement.



thank you very much i really appreciate your help.





one more thing, you think i should check the ignition switch?


No. What you’re describing is a large current draw off the battery. The current that goes through the ignition switch isn’t enough to cause the lights to dim. But when you turn the ignition switch to the start position, you energize the starter solenoid to close the contacts that connect the battery to the starter. And that’s when the lights dim.



thank you very much.


You’re welcome!



Clean both ends of both battery cables and make sure that you also clean any ground connections that you might have at your bell housing.


I did replace the starter and it worked, i thank you very much.


I learned this from my father when I was a kid in the '50s. To combat corrosion due to the battery solution (acid), smear grease on the battery posts as well as on the cable terminals. Using those green-colored & red-colored felt won’t do much good. They are just to remind you the red-colored felt is positive, & any other color is negative.