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I have a 99 Nissan Altima manual transmission. Just put on a new starter and solenoid, battery is good (12.7v), replaced the starter fuse and still nothing, and I've checked the ground wires and cleaned the battery terminals. However, my car still will not start.

I've tried push starting and the engine turned over a couple times then shut down. The person behind me said there was also dark smoke coming out of the muffler. I thought it could be the ignition switch, but when I turn the key, everything else seems to work fine. The lights come on then go off when the key is fully turned. I do hear a buzzing or whirring noise from the starter when it's trying to start. Could it be the starter not engaging?

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It could be that the starter is not engaging as you mention, but that wouldn't affect a bump-start (or push-start).

If the bump-start won't work then one of 3 things has to be true:

  1. No fuel for combustion
  2. No air for burn
  3. No spark for ignition

There are a few other (much less likely) possibilities, but those are probably your prime candidates.

With that said, I'd recommend double-checking you battery's grounding cable and terminal. Even with a grounding problem you can usually get most (or all) of your car's subsystems to work because the load is not too high. However, your starter and other engine systems draw fairly high, so it could be that something isn't getting the juice it needs. Easiest way to troubleshoot this - start at the beginning!

Remove all the battery connections and make sure they're free of any oxidation. You can also use some sandpaper (around 120 grit works fine) and lightly scuff them once they're clean. Cinch everything down nice and tight then test again. You would also benefit from having someone else try to turn it over while you near the engine compartment so that you can tell exactly where the sound is originating.

You may have already checked the above, but with DC systems (in my experience) grounding is by far the most common cause of electrical issues.

If you check the above (or already have) let us know what the results are and we can troubleshoot further.

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    Can't stress this enough to check/clean the battery terminals. If there is not a solid connection you can certainly run into pesky no-start issues. I've had this happen myself, where a little scrub of the terminal and making sure the connection is on tight made the difference between a vehicle that would start and one that would not. – Christopher Hunter Apr 18 '17 at 19:06
  • Thank you @kyle_engineer, I changed all four spark plugs, the battery terminal connectors, and used sand paper to clean any oxidation on the battery. I'm able to push start it now, but it won't start on its own still so I guess it is a ground somewhere. – max Apr 20 '17 at 18:11
  • @max did you also clean the point where the negative (black) wires connects to the fender and block? And is it still making a whirring sound? – kyle_engineer Apr 20 '17 at 19:42
  • Yes, I cleaned both wire ends and the places where it makes contact with the block and fender. The buzzing sound is coming from near the gas tank so maybe the noise is from the fuel pump. Because it still makes the buzzing sound even when I removed the starter and kept the battery connected. I also shorted the connection on the starter while it was on the car (with everything connected) and it activated (I could hear the starter motor spin). It's still not starting on it's own though. – max Apr 24 '17 at 16:36
  • @max was it just the starter spinning or did it crank the gas motor too? – kyle_engineer Apr 24 '17 at 16:40

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