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Calling all car mechanics

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Mar 13, 2005.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    If possible I'd appreciate a diagnosis or best guess before hitting the service stations in my area tomorrow.


    The last 2 times the car started it just barely turned over. Sounded almost as if it were the battery, but the battery is brand new and there's plenty of power. Finally, last night I turned the key and I get nothing but a faint click. Aint no way anything's happening.


    The car is an 89 Honda civic hatchback, 4 speed standard, 90,000 miles.

    Prior to this there was a loud squealing on and off (usually when it was rainy or snowy) coming from what I thought was a belt on the left side of the engine. Upon inspection last night it looked like it was connected to the alternater - but I don't know very much about cars. A helpful(?) person told me it was my starter.

    I push started the car and it was fine, no problems, no squealing - drove home. Parked and shut it - still won't start.


    In my limited knowlege I'd say I need a new starter. Do you agree? If so how much would you estimate the cost to be if I take it to a mechanic?

    Is there any possibility it's the alternater? It LOOKS to me like that's where the squealing has been coming from, but I have a vague memory of an old car just completely dying when the alternater went.

    Might it be anything else? If so, what are the possibilities.

    Any chance of a guy who isn't the most mechanically inclined, but can change a flat and check his oil fiixing this himself :) .

  2. maverick


    Mar 8, 2005
    London England
    it could be the starter motor thats where i would look first. i don't know about NY but here in the UK that would be the least expensive place to start
  3. toytech


    Mar 22, 2004
    San Leandro
    sounds like a cable or charge problem, tighten/replace the belt and get the charging/starting systme checked. The inspection shouldn't cost much and is cheaper than throwing parts at it guessing.
  4. kaboom133


    Oct 19, 2001
    Latrobe PA
    I would say alternator, but you push started it and it worked... Usually, when a starter goes, it just goes. nothing slow about it. If it's the alternater though, it would work untill the battery lost all it's juice, but then it wouldn't run again until the battery was charged. Did the lights dim at all when you push started it and it ran? I had a similar problem with my truck, but that was after it sat for a while. The seloniod(sp?) stuck, so I hit the starter with a rubber mallet, and it worked.

    Hmmm, reading my post over, I realize this probably won't help you at all, it's just me babbeling. hmmmmmm
  5. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Check your belts and get a jump.
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    There's plenty of power - headlights work fine, radio, nothing dim... I'm certain it's nothing to do with the battery. If it IS the starter (which I really think it is) around how much does a new starter go for??? I'd just like to have an idea of what i might be looking at.
  7. kaboom133


    Oct 19, 2001
    Latrobe PA
    I don't know how many junkyards you'd find in your area, but if there are some, your best bet would be to call around to every one you can and just ask; It never hurts to ask. Before I "fixed" my starter with a mallet, I called around to get prices for them, and at my local junkyards, they ran from $15 to $50. That's for an 88 toyota pickup, so I would assume it would be close to the price for yours. Like I said though, your best bet is to call around and ask junkyards.
  8. A rebuilt starter will be more. I know for my 95 Dodge it was $140.

    Sounds like your belt tension'r is bad. So I am guessing that you will need a new belt, tension'r at the least. Then have the alternator checked, they can test that pretty easy. Then look at cables to the battery, are they old and beat up?? Maybe they are not putting out enough juice to the starter. Possible bad starter.
  9. So we can all gather it up it's either an alternator or belt problem. Or both.

    The loud squealing thing happens to my car when the belt gets wet too, it turns that squeak on my belt is because of the air conditioner compressor. But the A/C is busted in my car, so it kind of just makes noise when it gets wet.

    Do not use WD-40 on anything near the belt, because it gets on the belt and makes stuff slip.
  10. troll


    Aug 31, 2000
    Chicago area
    I'm pretty sure the belt is manually tensioned by alternator position on that particular model year.

  11. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    One thing you can try, before you bring it to the shop, is to take a long metal pole and poke the starter a few times. Give it a good whack with the end of the pole, four or five times. It won't hurt the starter, but it might loose up some crud (if there is any). Sometimes the connectors and contacts get a little corroded, and a little mechanical vibration will help. I've done that on my Jeep several times now, the effects usually last for two to three months.
  12. troll


    Aug 31, 2000
    Chicago area
    Actually, hitting a starter too hard can damage it. Remember it has magnets in it. You can knock magnets dead.

    Most of the time that works, is when the amature of the starter is jammed, and knocking it frees it up.

    It's a good thing to try though, I spent a winter in my old f250 doing that, thankfully it had remote start, I'd hit the button, give it a whack and vroom :)

  13. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Starters can gradually go bad. Mine has in my truck a couple of times. It would grind slow, and then it would just quit. Hitting it can work, ut the problem is still there, so it's best to replace it. You can also check about the alternator as well. Use a multi(volt)-meter and see what the voltage is. It should be around 14 volts while running. Another test to see if it is the alternator is to pull of the negative battery cable whil it's running. If it dies, your alternator is bad. Just be sure to pull the negative only, as a spark on the positive side can fry your computer.

    If your battery looks old, you ought to check the date. 4-5 years is a good run on most batteries. After that, you're pretty much on borrowed time.

    For the squealing, a loose belt can be the culprit, but also check fluids in your power sterring. Often these willsqueal when run a bit low. If it is run really low, you may have to end up replacing it.

    A check on the partsamerica.com website put starters at anywhere from 60-150 dollars. That is the most likely source of your problem. Best to replace it with a rebuilt rather than a junk yard piece as well. You don't know how long those have been sitting there, so there is no way to tell if it will be any good.
  14. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    Also check to see if the battery cables have a good connection to the battery itself. If they aren't seated well on the battery or if it isn't tightened enough, you may be losing enough power for it not to start.
  15. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Check for corrosion here. That can also cause a lot of problems.
  16. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    The squealing is a loose belt, which could probably be tightened. If the belt looks frayed or glazed from excessive slipping, have it replaced. Driving around with a loose belt will prevent the alternator from keeping the battery fully charged, which is not good.

    As far as the starting problem, could be lotsa stuff.....starter, cables and/or connections, etc.
    From the way you describe it, it does sound like the starter is bad. A reman starter will probably cost you anywhere from $75 to $150 (depending what the shop's markup on parts is), and labor is probably one hour or less to install it.

    I could give you a more exact price tomorrow, I'll look it up at work and let you know.
  17. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    That test worked great in 1979, but I wouldn't do it on any computer controlled car. Too easy to generate voltage spikes when disconnecting either side of the battery with the car running.
  18. erik II

    erik II

    Jul 11, 2000
    Oslo, Norway
    You can test the starter by connecting it directly to the battery.

    The squealing may not have anything to do with the starting problems. Check belt tension, if that is OK, try some "belt spray" - stuff to spray on the belt to increase friction.
  19. FenderHotRod


    Sep 1, 2004
    1.)Starter- My starter went out about a month ago and I thought it was my alternater. It cost me a pretty penny to have it replaced. Money I could of used tward a new bass.

    2.) squealing- When raining Check to see if you have cracks in your belts. My truck only squeals when it rains. That reminds me I need a new belt.
  20. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    What exactly is a pretty penny? $200? $500? $1000? I want to know if they're trying to rip me off when I bring it in, and if it's even worth it anymore for this car.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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