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Car

1.6L Ford Focus estate, made in 2000. It is right hand drive, although I doubt that matters.

Issue

When the ignition key is turned from "On" to "Start", there is a click (sounds like a relay behind the glovebox) and all power goes in the car. The battery is fine as the lights work perfectly up until the point of turning the key to "Start".

After some time (minutes) power returns to the car and I can attempt to start again. All power goes, as the radio is reset to factory and the clock is reset to midnight.

The MIL / Check Engine light is on, however my bluetooth scanner with various apps on my phone cannot read a code from the ECU.

Question

Is the starter bad, or is there something else it could be, such as grounding?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This sounds like there is an issue with the ground at the battery. Sometimes it appears there is a good connection there (especially when using side post terminals), yet there is only enough of a connection to allow the low amperage stuff to work. Then, when you turn the key, the starter starts to engage, but then continuity is lost because there is not enough of a connection at the terminal to support the amperage load.

I would try tightening the battery terminal to see if you can get a better connection. Don't over tighten, though, as this can strip out the threads (on a side post) or break the post clamp on a top post. Also, try cleaning the terminals could help as well.

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Turns out the battery terminals were the problem. There was petroleum jelly smeared on them to prevent corrosion - must have gotten in between the side post and the clamp, preventing turning over. –  Nick Feb 22 at 12:06
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The click sound means there isn't enough current (amps) supplied to the starter to physically turn the motor. Try hitting the starter (give it a decent smack with a wrench or hammer) while a friend turns the key. Check battery voltage (12.6 volts) AND cranking amps. check for a voltage drop and a parasitic draw. It could be a ground issue but I'd start with the battery and starter motor first, both are common issues and easier to check than chasing down electrical gremlins or bad wiring.

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