Engine Won't Turn, Makes Chugging / Rattling Noise (with recording)

Went out to my car a moment ago, Dodge Neon 2000, couldn’t get the engine to start. The lights all come on, battery seems fine. It sounds like the engine isn’t even trying to turn over. Instead, the car makes a weird chugging noise. I’ve got a recording here, is someone still awake that could give me a clue as to what this is?

http://ohnoabear.com/dreamshade/ds_turnkey_sound.mp3 – I turn the key twice here and let it chug. You can hear the noise at about the 2-second mark.

I don’t think I had any advance warning that anything was wrong, though I did have the car in the shop a few days ago to replace a water pump and timing belt.

To me, this sounds like it may be a dead (or very low) battery, and it’s the starter relay that’s clicking.

Did you happen to leave a dome light, or something electronic plugged in? Something drained your battery.

Definitely a weak or drained battery. If you haven’t replaced your battery in a few years, it could simply be time for a new one.

I’ll go along with the others about the battery & just add that a battery can be very weak / near dead and still run the lights just fine. The power required to light up those little bulbs and that required to crank an engine over are two completely different things.

But there are also ways of testing a battery and at the age of this car it would be good to evaluate everything involved - have the alternator tested, inspect & clean all cables and connections.

Hmm. I walked around the car when I was there - trunk wasn’t open, doors were all closed, dome light wasn’t on. I don’t think I had anything left on. I’ll try getting it jumped maybe before I try to tow to a station.

Should it still chug-a-lug without starting after you try to boost it, It could be the starter as well or the fat cable going to the starter.

Got a jump, car started up and ran fine. Herpaderp. I did see some blue crud collecting on the battery connectors, though, so it’s probably fair time I had the battery cleaned and tested. Thanks for saving me a call to the tow truck, you guys.