Truck doesnt crank on first try, had loads of work done, there's an alligator in the door!

i purchased a 1996 Chevy S10(beautiful teal color) as a second vehicle about 6 years ago. at the time of purchase we had to have the truck tuned up and then it was good to go. Now years later having much difficulty with the vehicle. There is a picture of an alligator in the door where vehicle id is kept. do you think that this truck may have been in the Hurricane Katrina of Louisiana and destroyed the electrical system. Just recently I had the distributor/tuneup all done. If I don’t crank everyday, it maybe a possibility that my vehicle wont crank. the charges are all there, but still not running smoothly. sometimes it will act as if it is cutting out, the brake light comes on but if gas is applied just right the truck remains operable. FYI had the fuel pump replaced earlier too. Please help. I am a one person team here.

Flood cars usually reveal their gremlins sooner than 9 years after the flood. Especially since a lot of that was salt water flooding, I’d think you’d have seen lots more problems by now if it was a flood car. Some people just like alligators - doesn’t mean they’ve been through a hurricane :wink:

Have your OBD codes read and see if there are any stored. That might help us diagnose your issue.

had that done, and offered to mechanic, but didn’t go over well. outside of taking to a dealership and being offered as a trade in I am lost… thanks and I will hang on a little longer to see how ‘he’ runs, just don’t want him to flatline and need towing, I will go to another Autozone or see if a Firestone can assist, they are good about sending coupons for free diagnosis.

Firestone is a mistake. The coupon is to get you in the door, then upsell you on things you don’t need while trying to convince you that you do need them. On a problem like this, they will find ways to suck your wallet dry.

What codes did the reader find?

Autozone or Advance will read the codes for free.

Doesn’t crank - Do you mean the engine does turn over when you turn the key? Check and make sure starter and battery and ground connections are clean and tight. If still does not turn over the starter would be a prime suspect. Rap on the starter with a mallet and try to start it again. If it starts, buy a starter. If its manual don’t forget the clutch switch. If auto the neutral safety switch.

Let’s use the same words:

CRANK: The starter is turning the engine.

START: The engine runs on its own.

(TURN OVER: Can mean CRANK or START, don’t use it!)

I have heard the “click” of a starter problem many times before. that seems to be working ok. it is like the engine wants to turn over, but it doesn’t “catch”. you can hear the thump of the full start but it doesn’t quite make it. I have to turn key over about 5 times for it to fire up and run. Still driving it but hoping it stays operable while driving down the road and starts up the next time I get into it.

So…it ONLY clicks? It doesn’t spin, cough, or anything?

There’s a number of things that can happen once you turn the key. Each one points to something different being the culprit. So, when you turn the key, does it:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Cause a clicking sound(s), possibly dim/turn off certain electric systems–but nothing more than that.
  3. The engine turns, as evidenced by the rowr…rowr…of the starter motor. If you had a helper watch the engine while you did this, he would notice the serpentine belt and pulleys moving.
  4. Does everything in 3, but also “coughs” occasionally, where the engine is at least trying to fire. It might cough, then the starter sound speeds up briefly after, to possibly repeat.
  5. Does everything in 4, and even runs (poorly) for a while, to die after a few seconds.
  6. Starts and runs.

So…@DELL, where are you along this list?

I assume you are saying the starter is cranking the engine over okay but the engine doesn’t want to fire up sometimes. If that is the case I suggest you try spaying a little bit of starter fluid into the air intake system to see if that gets the engine fired. If so then you need to check for a problem with the fuel delivery system. It could be as simple as a clogged fuel filter. You might be able to find out at least some previous history on the vehicle by using Carfax.

If the starter isn’t cranking then perhaps the main batter lead to it has an internal corrosion problem.

@Dell said about the codes…had that done, and offered to mechanic, but didn’t go over well.

So let us in on the mystery as to what codes there are???

It’s hard to understand if he’s hearing the solenoid, but the starter ins’t engaging…or if the starter is cranking, but the engine doesn’t fire.

I’m guessing the solenoid is engaging, but the engine doesn’t crank. All Dell is hearing is the quick groan of the starter turning just a tooth or two.

Battery connections are the first place to begin when you have a “No start” situation. Even
if you have a new battery, if the connections are loose, dirty or corroded, you will not be
allowing the full flow of current to pass thru the connections. The connection may be
enough to turn on the lights, but not enough for the huge flow that is needed to operate the
starter. This is where many people say that they know the battery is good….”because the
lights come on”. This is no more a battery test than licking a 9volt battery. It only tells you that there is electricity…not how many volts or the amperage that flows from the battery.
Jump starting may have wiggled the terminal just enough to allow the current to pass and start the engine, but tomorrow you have the same problem.

First remove the cables from the battery and use a wire brush to remove any corrosion and dirt from the battery posts and the cable terminals. There is a tool with a round wire brush for this purpose, found at any auto parts store for less than $10
Before connecting the cables, apply a coating of di-electric grease to the battery posts this will keep oxygen away from the connection so that it will not corrode as fast.

It is just as important that the other end of the cables also have a clean connection. Remove the positive cable from the battery again so that you do not short anything out. Follow both cables to their far ends, remove this connection and wire brush the connection and the cable terminal clean and retighten these connections.

If there was work done recently, there may have been an “engine to body” ground that was not installed following the work. These grounds normally run from the rear of the engine to the firewall and are uninsulated and most are a braided wire. If any of these are found unattached…reattach them.
Remember….this is not a “Sherman Tank” don’t over tighten the connections.
Tight…tight………………too tight…broke!!!


There is nothing about a 96 S10 that makes it immune from these problems even if it wasn’t a flood car. It would have acted up years earlier. I would dump it once you get it running. An alligator never changes it’s spots, even if they are a beautiful teal color.

@Yosemite: “Battery connections are the first place to begin when you have a ‘No start’ situation.”

I think you mean a “no crank” situation.

Ask your tech to measure the voltage at both terminals of the starter motor during attempted cranking. Both should measure above 10.5 volts. If one or both are below that, find out why. Possibilities are ignition switch, battery, battery connections, under dash starter relay (if you have one), and neutral start switch (if automatic) or clutch start switch (if manual).

If both measure above 10.5 volts and you don’t get a good steady crank, suspect the starter solenoid, which usually means replacing the starter motor.

If you get a good steady crank but it doesn’t catch, that usually means there’s a fuel delivery problem or a spark problem. A fuel pressure test is for the first. Spark at the spark plug can usually be checked with an inexpensive gadget available at most auto parts stores.

Thanks @insightful, I’ll edit that.

I got so tired or writing that same thing here, I put it on “Word” and just cut and paste.
Besides I’m a two fingered typist and it saved lots more time for watching the skies for alien craft hunting for subjects to examine. I painted a sign on the top of the wifes van, good thing she’s short and can’t see that high. “Take me to your home planet, I’m pro-alien”.


thank you all for the suggestions, I have mechanic checking all now, will let you know.