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Car Not Starting - no power

My '03 Pontiac vibe will not start when I turn the key. It has power when I first go into the car but when I turn the key I get nothing and it’s just dead. No clicking noises or anything when I turn the key. When I go under the hood and move the wires around, the car gains the power back but does the exact same thing when I turn the key. The battery and cables are only 2 years old so I’m really unsure as to what is happening?

Not quite sure what you mean. Are you losing lights, as well as ‘no start’?
First thing I would do is get a voltmeter-there are inexpensive ones that plug into a cig. lighter; I prefer one with test leads ($20-$40) so you can put it on the battery and starter, etc. directly. Post back once you’re able to give some voltage readings and we can walk you through some simple checks.

What wires are you moving? If it is the battery cables then they need to be cleaned and properly tightened.


As far as power, I mean that the lights turn back on. I cleaned the cables and the terminals multiple times but I will try and check the voltage this afternoon. And yes I moved the battery cables.

Then you have found the problem. Did you actually remove the cables and clean both mating surfaces? If so, then the cables could have internal corrosion and need to be replaced.

I had a similar symptom on my Corolla – similar in design to a Vibe I think – and it was just that the battery cables had worked loose and the posts and connectors needed to be cleaned and tightened. If that doesn’t fix it, the quickest sol’n to this is usually to charge, then load test the battery, then do some voltage measurements at the starter during attempted cranking.

I should add that Ray (of Car Talk radio show fame) has commented quite a few times during call-ins about the starter motor design this car probably uses, called a gear reduction starter. It tends to be more sensitive than other designs and problematic starter motors on Corollas are a fairly common problem.

You cannot move a properly tightened battery cable.

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