My 1999 Pontiac Sunfire 2.2L OHV is having a hard time starting. Please see the description of the symptoms and what I already tried. I am looking for 2 or 3 more things to try before I give in and go to a professional.
These are the symptoms:
- For about two weeks, the car has become progressively harder and harder to start. Now, it won't start by itself.
- The weather has become progressively colder each day as the car has become harder to start. I don't know if this is related.
- The first few times that the car wouldn't start by itself, a jump start worked.
- After each jump start, it becomes progressively harder and harder to jump start. I fully recharge the battery between each jump start attempt.
- The battery takes a charge and it gets the engine spinning quickly, but there is no "cha-cha-cha-cha" sound. Only a spinning engine.
- When the engine is started, it runs beautifully. There are no check engine or check battery lights lit up on the dashboard
- The positive battery terminal bolt was missing nearly all its threads, and it was loose.
This is what I already tried. None of these procedures fixed anything, but they also didn't make the symptoms worse. I have been able to start the car, with difficulty, and drive it after each of these procedures.
- I replaced the battery terminal bolts.
- I cleaned and sanded all connections to the battery.
- I disconnected, cleaned, and sanded all connectors from the battery to the grounding screw on the engine block. I similarly cleaned all connectors from battery to the solenoid and from the solenoid to the starter.
- The autoparts store load tested the battery and said it is fine.
- The autoparts store told me it was likely a bad alternator. So I replaced it. When the car is running, the new alternator keeps the system at 14.2 volts, so it is good.
- When I installed the new alternator, I thoroughly cleaned the mounting surfaces so the alternator would be properly grounded.
- I jump started the car by hooking the negative jumper cable directly to dead car's engine block and the positive cable directly to the starter. This jump start procedure bypasses the battery wires. I was able to start it this way, but it was just as difficult as when I was starting it with the normal jump start procedures.
- While an assistant turned the ignition key, I did the following voltage drop tests: The voltage drop from the negative battery terminal to the starter's grounded chassis was 0.10 volts. The voltage drop from the positive battery terminal to the starter's positive terminal was 0.10 volts. The voltage drop from the starter's positive terminal to the starter's grounded chassis was between 11 and 12 volts. These voltage drops all look good.
- I replaced the spark plugs and wires. I gapped the spark plugs to 0.05.
- I removed the starter and the autoparts store tested it. They said it is good.
- When I reinstalled the old starter, I thoroughly cleaned the mounting surfaces so the starter would be properly grounded.
- I installed a new battery and it doesn't fix anything.
Many thanks, RJH.