Car only starts when i dump water on the engine!

Hi all…the vehicle is a 2009 kia spectra. it has a brand new battery. the problem began about 4 years ago and would happen only in very cold weather. i turn the key and there is just a click. nothing. for some reason, my girlfriend decided to dump water over the engine and Voila…it started and drove fine thereafter. the water trick has proven itself to be legitimate over time and was/is no fluke. the problem has suddenly gotten worse and the water thing works but without as much ease as it once did (lower success rate, but still works eventually) i’ve checked the wires for corrosion and damage but they appear fine. i’m guessing theres some arcing somewhere but idk much thanks for any help anyone can offer.

Pretty weird. I’d look at main wiring. Battery to ground, battery to starter, alternator, etc. Make sure connections are tight and not corroded.

the grounds are all good…those were easy enough to follow…as for the positive cable, what connections are there typically? you mentioned the starter and alternator, are there others?

Sounds like the starter solenoid contacts are worn, repeated attempts to start the engine warms the solenoid components, the solenoid contacts expand and make contact eventually. Filling a bucket with water is like a two minute timer giving time for the warmth of the solenoid coil to spread though the solenoid. Plan on replacing the starter.

My 66 Chevy had a flaky starter. 1hr cooldown was standard to get starter to work. Young and dumb

I’d look at the larger wires and connections at the starter and alternator. If those are good, I wouldn’t really know what else to look at. Other than possibly replacing the starter as others mentioned. Would suck if you replaced the starter and had the same issue, though. And had to carry around a jug of water :grin:. Seems like if it fires right up after you dump water on the engine, a connection isn’t being made when it’s dry. Then the water helps the current “jump the gap”, maybe?

Check the engine to body ground and clean the body end.

now that single digit temps are gone, the car is starting up normally again. [Nevada_545] the starting of the car goes from unsuccessful to successful instantaneously when the water is introduced…does the solenoid contacts theory still make sense?

Sounds like you are resurrecting the ground connection with the water. Would love to see a video of this phenomenon in action but I know that may be difficult. How bout a picture of your battery and its connections? Id remove the batt cables and clean them thoroughly along with the battery posts etc… then tighten them back up. If your ground is easy to trace to the engine block…clean that connection as well. While you are at it…make sure your starter is tight to the engine…it may be loose and thus not getting a good ground.

Hows bout that photo?

I wonder if opening the hood alone might prompt the engine to start.

tonight will likely be the last night with temps below 20 for a while so i will try before going to bed to capture that vid…it’s been starting right up lately since the weather’s been warmer. the video would just look like you’d imagine though…repeated failed attempts to start the car by my gf (single click accomanying each fail), then i pop the hood, dump about a pint of water over where the clicking sound is coming from and the car starting the very next try.

Maybe open the hood and watch as she tries to start it. See if you can pinpoint the are where the single click comes from. The single click is usually what you get when you have a loose connection like really loose battery cables.

Does this no-crank problem only happen when the engine is warm? Only when the engine is cold? Or doesn’t the engine temperature matter? If it only happens when the engine temperature is warm, good chance the starter is failing, or its heat shield (if it came w/one) has fallen off.

I think he said it only does it when the weather is cold (20 or less), George. Which doesn’t give me any clues offhand. I’m not sure if he mentioned any pattern with actual engine temp concerning the no start. Weather temp shouldn’t normally matter, I wouldn’t think. But apparently it does in this case…

Understood about the video … but the picture is easy enough, no? Anyway…did you clean and tighten those battery connections? Trace where the ground goes and clean that? The starter solenoid is what is clicking and that is located on the starter… Have you checked the electrical connections on the starter solenoid for cleanliness and tightness? Is the starter body itself tight to the engine (that is how it gets grounded to the block…and the Neg batt cable grounds block to batt) kinda important… Have you used any sort of tools on this issue at all?

It is going to take about two and 3/4th’s lifetimes to troubleshooting and or affect a repair of this issue utilizing the local weather, your girlfriend and a glass of water as the only tools applied… Can you report on the items many of us have suggested? Oh OK, forget their suggestions and just use mine…lol. There is a reason we are suggesting the things mentioned and none of us can help you any further or at all if no one is actually laying hands and actual tools on the matter.

Let us know what happens after tools touch some fasteners.

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