CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

New Starter, New Battery, so What was that Rattling?

Last weekend the car was making slower clicky sounds to start up. A few days later we turn the key and just get a click. But all the lights & the power doors were on full strength. So we get it replaced - with a remanufactured one (they can’t all be bad or they wouldn’t sell 'em).
We drive it home, and in the driveway it start making a click, then a quick vibration throughout the car, then a click, then the vibration, every 2 seconds. We idle for half an hour and it doesn’t stop.
So the mechanic checks it out. He finds a belt that was clicking to start and stop. He tightens the belt (the timing chain), says he fixed it. Says maybe more freon would help somehow, since the belt was on the air compressor. Sounds a little shrill, idles at 800 (600 w AC full blast). Mechanic says that’s just how it’s gonna sound with this starter.
Yesterday, the car won’t start, just makes the click in the ignition. But the dashboard lights are all dim. The power door is reeeeal slow, and the electronic lock doesn’t work. Wal-Mart tests the battery, says it was dead and not even jumpable, so they give us a new one. (Her sister may’ve left a door open yesterday for we-don’t-know-how-long, so that might be an isolated incident.)
But this morning… it starts up, and there’s a rattling. Just a few seconds at the start. We wish we were recording that. So we wait, turn it off, start it again - but no rattling anymore.
Now, rattling is the most vague and ominous noise known to driver. No one’s jumped out with a quick explanation of what that would be. But was it starter… a non-starter? Was something related to the belt, though I can’t imagine what? Did that klutz just leave a little socket wrench in there?

Two possibilities. Either your “mechanic” is an idiot or you are terrible at understanding what he says.

A timing chain is not a belt, an a/c compressor has nothing to do with a starter or a timing belt and the starter should have nothing to do with the sound of the engine running, unless it is not disengaging and if it is doing that it would make a heck of a noise and any mechanic would replace it immediately.

This “mechanic” doesn’t work at Pep Boys does he? A friend of mine Bought a lifetime Guaranteed rebuilt starter from them and they cheerfully gave him a new one when it failed. All 5 times it happened in the 2 years he owned the car.

At this point , the only thing that I know is that your starter has been replaced but there is so much misinformation in your post that I cannot even guess what is wrong with your car.

The battery was terribly weak so you had “it” replaced with a remanufactured one? I think that you may have had the starter replaced.

That would be the air conditioning compressor clutch, normal cycling would be 10 to 15 seconds.

The compressor being low on freon can cause the clutch to engage and disengage every couple seconds. If that is making the shrill sound you where talking about it could be the belt slipping, the RPMs you put in don’t make sense unless you have it listed backwards. The engine should run a higher RPM at idle when the compressor clutch is engaged. As for the rattle at start up, it could be just something is loose, or maybe it is the lifters making some noise on a cold start, that sound tends to go away quickly as oil moves into the top end. And I would call that a ticking sound myself. But really that is just stuff I’m throwing out there. But like oldtimer was getting at we dont really have all the right info to give you better information. Maybe a video would help at this point.

Clarifications:

  1. the “so we got it replaced” at the beginning was the STARTER. The battery was the replacement we did days later.
  2. The belt / timing chain was actually just a belt for the AC.
    Hope that makes more sense.
    and yes, the rattling was “a heck of a noise” for a few seconds. I have recordings. Let me know if you know how to upload one.

Here’s the latest recording of trying to start:

That sound is very weak and mild compared to the sound of a starter not disengaging. That video does not sound like a good starter being driven by a good battery. If you have or can get a voltmeter It would be good to know the volyage of the battery before starting. It should be between 12 and 12.6

UPDATE: IT WORKS! Turns out a tube in the air flow system wasn’t re-attached right by the mechanic who installed the starter. Then the car’s computer had to be reset because it was measuring how much air was going through the car and trying to adjust, but with the air leak… anyway, once we did that, it’s run fine all week.
Advance Auto tested the original starter - everything Passed except Drive Extent Result. (I’ll look this up later. If I can fix or replace whatever part went wrong in it and resell it, I will. Do y’all know?)