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Pontiac Vibe Engine will not start

My 2003 Pontiac Vibe will not start. I turn the key and it starts to turn over then I hear a rapid clicking sound in the engine compartment. The headlights will turn on but the engine is dead.

What it it?

Sounds like a worn out battery to me. If this car still has its original battery you need a new one.

Bright headlights don’t mean much. All you need is 12 volts for that, and even a near-dead battery will provide 12 volts. Starting the car takes amperage (batteries are rated by the number of Cold Cranking Amps), and a dead, or nearly dead battery, just doesn’t have enough power to start a cold engine.

You can have the battery tested, free, at most auto parts stores. Ask them to “load test” the battery. My guess is it won’t pass.

I concur with mcparadise, and I want to add a few comments. Assuming that this battery is the original, that would indicate that it was manufactured at least 5 years ago. A 5 year old battery is definitely a candidate for failure, and if it is a maintenance-free battery, that failure will likely come without any prior warnings like slow cranking.

Also, forcing an alternator to keep a weak battery charged is the formula for burning out the alternator. Batteries are relatively cheap, and alternators can be fairly expensive to have installed. Hence, it is false economy to try to get those last extra few months out of a battery.

I have my batteries load-tested just prior to their third winter. If the battery passes, then I have it load-tested just prior to its fourth winter. If I am lucky enough for it to pass at that point, I make a mental note to replace the battery during the following spring because I don’t want to press my luck (or my alternator) with a fifth winter’s service for that battery.

Thanks for the help. I was hoping it was the battery.