Abnormal Starter Issues

Phase 1:

-Open car doors and interior lights and buzzers work normally

-Turn the key to start my car and ALL electronics go dead…interior lights, dash lights, etc and there’s no noises at all indicating anything in my starting system is doing anything

-I have an after-market alarm that’s quite sketchy so I’m not sure if it’s part of the problem but it’ll passively go off (it’ll be about 1/10 as loud as when it normally goes off)

-After waiting a few minutes for the alarm to go off, I’d try starting it again…sometimes it’ll start right up and sometimes the above 2 lines will repeat

-While the car is in the ‘dead’ state, it doesn’t do a darn thing to try to jump start it from another car (tried using a '93 Accord 4 cylinder)

Phase 2:

-After receiving my dad’s battery trickle charger wall plug in and using it on my battery, it started up normally

-The car started 3 more times (short on and off without running the engine long)

-I used the radio for an hour or two with the engine off, while I was working on bikes in my garage

-Tried to start it again and it wouldn’t start…just a few clicks before silence

-Charged it back up with the trickle charger and it started up just fine

-While running (45 minute drive, no stops), the voltmeter was running in the exact middle of the gauge like normal for my car

Phase 3:

-charged the car up with the trickle charger again after it wouldn’t start the next morning

-I noticed the lights in the interior were abnormally bright while it was hooked up to the trickle charger

-Tried to start the engine but got nothing more than a rapid clicking noise from the starter was present

-With the key on the “run” position (not “start” but just “run”) things got really weird with noises and dash lights:

*the dash lights would randomly dim, then get bright, then dim again

*I heard a REALLY abnormal tapping noise and vibration coming from the front passenger side of my engine bay, right next to the air intake inlet

*I kind of think it sounded like a relay, like when you initially take the key from “off” to “on” before you turn it to “start” when you try to start it

-While the car was charging with the trickle charger, I noticed the current on the trickle charger gauge were next to 0A and would randomly jump up to 10-15A. When it did that I’d try to get in and start it and the dash lights seemed normal brightness, the interior lights seemed normal brightness, but got nothing than the clicking noise from the starter when I tried to start it.

-Now I cannot get the car to start at all


-Battery (72 month) and Alternator (re manufactured) were replaced in summer '06

-133,000 miles on odometer

-The battery checked out ok at O’Reileys during phase 2; they said it had more than spec cold cranking amps but only a 36% charge

-When the alternator did go out (summer '06), the voltmeter slowly progressed from the middle of the gauge down to the low side before getting so low it couldn’t run the ignition timing system

-The alarm freaks out randomly at almost all times during the 1st and 3rd phase

-I’m a junior mechanical engineering student and am mechanically inclined…I’ve replaced the intake manifold, brakes, alternator, along with the usual maintenance items.

My thoughts is that the battery and alternator are just fine and some aspect of the starting system is not functional.

Forgot to mention the other possibly important parts…it’s a 1996 Mustang GT 4.6L SOHC 5-speed.