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Saturn SL2 manual alternator & battery?

Hello ,

Thank for any help!

I own a 1998 SL2 Saturn manual. Last month, I started having problems to start the car. (ex: I could not start it, but an hour later I could start it). The mechanic said it was the alternator and the battery, which he changed.
Two days ago, the same problem came back. If I stop the car and try to start it more than twice in an hour it won’t start. It seems like the battery or the alternator need time to recharge…

What do you think is the cause? Did the mechanic really fixed it? (the battery looked new, but I have no proof that he got a new one) And what should I tell him, when I bring my car to him again?

Thank you so much for your help


If I stop the car and try to start it more than twice in an hour it won’t start.

Could you describe “won’t start” in some detail? When you turn the key to start it, exactly what happens, what do you feel and hear?

Is the starter turning the motor? If not, you need a starter. Could be a bad ground to the motor or chassis. Clean the grounds and reinstall. The alternator only charges the battery when the car is running. Most parts shop can check the alternator and battery in the car for free. I am guessing, because I do not know what the not start condition is.

If I try to start and It does not work, I would just hear one little “tic” and nothing else. It seems like there is no "connection between the starter and the other parts of the car that are supposed to start it. (the starter was my 1st option, but not according to the mechanic)
Hope it helps thank you.

It also seems like the battery is dead.

Have the positive battery cable checked for corrosion.

Your vehicle has the side mount battery cable connections. Under the red rubber cover for the positive cable corrosion can form causing a major voltage drop to vehicles electricals.

Remove both cables from the battery, and peel back the red rubber cover to expose the positive terminals. If a lot of corrosion is found under this red rubber cover replace the positive battery cable assembly.


If the battery was dead, it wouldn’t start your car an hour later. If your battery and alternator were changed and your car won’t start, they were not the problem. Leave your car with a mechanic who is willing to drive it long enough to experience the problem.

Ok I will look a it. Thanks. What about the starter? How can I check it?

@oldtimer: not sure i can trust this mechanic, but I need him to fix his mistake. It cost me quite a lot last time.

I checked the side mount connection of the battery: they are fine. The red one in the back of the battery has some corrosion.

If it just goes click, then it’s the starter. It can be tested once it is removed. I have found that if the brushes are worn and internal contacts are dirty it will be intermittent. Just replace it.

@ knfenimore Thank you!

I wouldn’t give up on the starter just yet, although it is a prime candidate. First, all corrosion must be removed from both battery connections. Next, have the alternator checked for output.

While I believe the alternator is unlikely, there is a case for this type of failure because of the alternator. You can have the alternator checked for free, on the vehicle, at just about any car parts store except maybe in California.

If these check out, then have the starter checked. I put this last simply because this starter is a bear to remove.

Ok. The mechanic just changed the alternator, so I’ll ask him to check it again before the starter. What a pain! Thank you Keith!