Do I need a new starter?

I had a complete power shut down twice. After letting it sit for several days I could turn the lights and radio on but I couldn’t start it. I’m throwing no codes. I replaced the battery and haven’t had a complete loss of power since but I still can’t start it.

2001 PT Cruiser 2.4L stick 86k on the clock.

I replaced the relay

I replaced the battery

Tried tapping the starter doesn’t seem to help

I’ve cleaned the cables and terminals

I can roll the car and pop the clutch and it will start just fine. So I’m ruling out the ignition switch

I took my starter off to replace it. Autozone bench tested it several times and they said it works fine and to try cleaning everything. I did and for about 3 days it worked. But not anymore.

I can here the starter/solenoid pop/click once but it doesn’t make an effort to turn over. Just one click

I don’t want to have to take it in and blow $200+ to have the starter replaced when I can do it myself for parts alone.

Any ideas?

I wouldn’t rule out the ignition switch just yet.

The ignition switch is OK in the “on” position, obviously, but how do you know it works in the “START” position?

There are two parts to the ignition switch, the mechanical lock and the electric switch. Maybe the electric switch is no longer making good contact when you turn it to “start.”

You say that you hear the “starter/solenoid pop/click once”, so it sounds like you are getting 12V to the solenoid coil. I.e., ign switch failure would have to be pretty weird to work “once” (not sure what you mean by that) and then fail (repeatedly?).

Unless something is mechanically jammed, it still sounds like the 12V is not getting to the starter internals. Could be a bad cable (there have been a few cases of that reported here) or maybe some poor connection in the solenoid (did Autozone’s test cover that??). Try checking the 12V as close to the starter motor as you can. Maybe you’ll find out where you are losing the juice.

Try connecting a jumper cable from the engine to the negative battery terminal and the other ends from the engine to the fender or frame. Then see if it works. If it does, change the negative cable or improve the engine to body ground…

I’d suggest that you invest in a cheap volt-ohm meter. Analog, NOT Digital. Should cost about $10 at some sort of junk store like Big Lots. Maybe a bit more at a hardware store or parts store.

Measure the voltages between the negative battery terminal and the Engine ground, the terminal where the positive (red usually) battery terminal connects to the starter, and the positive battery terminal while someone else tries to start the car. Be careful to keep the wires away from moving parts.

  1. The voltage between the battery terminals should drop a few volts. Starting a car puts a major load on the battery, and it’ll respond by dropping a few volts inside the battery itself as it delivers its hundreds of amps of current. If the voltage across the terminals drops to only a few volts, the battery is bad. If it doesn’t drop at all, the starter isn’t getting (enough) battery power.

  2. The voltage between the negative battery terminal and the engine should go from zero to maybe a volt. If the drop is much higher than that and the terminals have been cleaned, you probably need a new cable.

  3. Likewise, the voltage between the positive battery terminal and the starter shouldn’t be more than a volt or two while the starter is working. If it is higher than that, the cable probably needs replacement.