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Car not starting - already have new battery and alternator

First off I wanna say I appreciate any knowledge you all can contribute. I have a 2004 Honda Element with 203,000 miles (I know, it’s a lot). Anyways, I got a new alternator a few months ago, and then a new (maybe refurbished) battery from Autozone just about a month ago. Anyways, it has started to crank slower than usual so I asked my brother about it, and he tested the battery saying it was fine. We tested for any codes, and there was nothing. Sometimes it would start up with no problem right away, and other times it would be very slow and failed to start once before about 2 weeks ago. Yesterday it got pretty cold, and it failed to start. Oddly enough my friend jumped my battery and it started right away with no delay. Then it started again later that night. This morning is failed to start (it’s even colder), so I’m thinking maybe I need more oil? But I will post a picture of what my oil is at (as of a couple of weeks ago, could be less now from solidifying I will check when I get home. ALSO it is synthetic oil which I never used before in the car).

So my thoughts are possibly its the starter itself since I have so many miles on the car, but it doesn’t make the clicking noise, it just fails to crank all the way.

Could it be I need to add more oil, since it looks low?

Or is it something else that it could be like the carburetor, or like my brother suggested a bad connection of some sort?

Thanks so much y’all!

Quite possibly there’s a bad connection, intermittently, in the starter solenoid. That’s built in to the side of the starter motor. The copper contacts in there get burnt over time and don’t always make a good connection.

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Get the thing running and return to Autozone and they will check the battery and alternator for you . Why are you spending money on synthetic oil ? And I have no idea what you mean by the oil solidifying ? It does not do that. Also you should be checking the oil level at least once a week with as many miles as you have.

Your symptoms indicate either a bad battery or a bad connection.

When you hooked up the jumper cables, did you connect the negative (black) clamp directly to the negative battery terminal or did you follow instructions to clamp it on the engine itself. If you clamped it to the engine, you bypassed the negative battery cable and that is where your problem may lay.

Since you just replaced the battery, the connection at the battery terminal is probably good. Follow the battery cable down to where it connects at the engine. Remove the connection and clean both the terminal on the cable and place on the engine that it contacts and reassemble.

If that doesn’t solve the issue, then it could be the terminal of the battery to cable connection that needs cleaning. Clean this with a RED nylon scrubbing pad. There could also be an issue between the contacts and the copper wire of the cable itself, something that you might not be able to see if it is covered by insulation. If that is the case, you will need a new cable.

Edit: if any connection in the negative battery cable is found other than the cable to engine, then the same issues could also be in the positive battery cable, especially at the terminal to cable connection.

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I’m almost afraid to ask what you mean by a new (maybe refurbished) battery.

Thank you all for such the fast responses, I will respond in order:

That’s what I am thinking. When my brother comes over we are going to run some tests for the connections.
However, it does crank and get close to starting, it varies a lot, so I don’t think it is the starter solenoid since it seems to be a hit or miss, and the starter solenoid would be a pretty consistent issue right?

No need to get worked up, why are you getting worked up on a forums? Like I said, I have never gotten synthetic oil, I generally always do my own oil change but I was out of state and the person sold me on synthetic without me realizing, a mistake was made. What I meant by solidifying is that it becomes thicker in the cold; however, since I got synthetic I am just now thinking this wouldn’t be the case. So your untamed impulsive response actually helped, thanks.

I actually put both the negative clamps on a solid piece of the car that was not the battery. I am realizing I should of at least clamped the negative cable to the “good” battery from the other car. What should I do in this case, do another jump?

Yes, you definitely need to add oil, but that situation has no bearing on the starting problem.
As others have stated, the most likely cause is a bad electrical connection.

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You have multiple ground cables going from the engine to the chassis. So the problem seems to be in the negative battery cable, either internally or at one of the contact points. BTW, it is not likely in the starter or solenoid because jumping would not bypass a bad connection inside the starter. But that can’t be ruled out entirely as if the engine is running on the supply vehicle, there is more voltage being supplied to the starter that would be by the battery alone. It could be the battery itself also, it needs to be load tested to be sure. The alternator needs to be tested as well, BTW, check the battery connection at the alternator too.

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They may have sold you a too small a battery for this engine, or the battery is not 100%, or , I have seen starters that just get old and slow down.

I’ve never heard of a shop selling a refurbished battery at an auto parts store. Unless they sold you a used battery that someone traded in and it was still pretty good condition. That could be the problem, if it was too small for this engine.

First thing to do is to get this to someone who can check the battery and charging system.
You can then go from there and determine your next step.

How long has it been since you put new plugs in this Element. With 203,000 miles you may need new plugs to get to fire correctly. The old plugs may have too wide a gap from normal wear.
A new air filter and fuel filter may also be in the cards.

As far as oil is concerned you can use Synthetic oil and it will not cause any problems with starting.
You could be a quart low and it wouldn’t make a difference in the engine starting…

Also; when you read the dip stick, you do not hold it pointed up as in the picture. You could be 1 1/2 quarts low and within a second the oil will migrate down to the full mark. Always hold it point down.


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Just want to add I am pretty ignorant with cars, and I apologize for any confusion because of it.

Thank you for the thorough response. My brother tested both the battery and alternator, he has a lot of tools. I will call auto zone to check what kind of battery they sold me, but I think it was just one without a super long warranty, I didn’t mean to say refurbished, sorry for the confusion everybody.

My brother and dad live about an hour away, but I might try to get it jumped again so I can bring it there and figure it out. I will let you all know, any responses though are still appreciated. Thank you everybody.

Most auto parts stores will check these things for free.

Not that I don’t trust your brother, but anyone can buy tools and make a mess of things.
Nothing worse than someone diagnosing a problem and steering you in the wrong direction.


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Will do. He used to work at Autozone himself though, and I trust him as he helped restore a 69 camaro with my dad, he is pretty knowledgeable in this field. Just wanted to get some opinions before he is able to come over, so we check everything before replacing something. I will probably go back to Autozone anyways if I can get it started.

Thanks again for all the responses, very helpful

  1. Your car doesn’t have a carburetor. It is fuel-injected.
  2. AutoZone doesn’t sell “refurbished” batteries.
  3. It is unlikely your battery is “too small”.
  4. You need to ensure all connections are shiny clean and tight. Each cable has two ends. Disconnect the negative at the battery before doing any exploring.