It began with a turn of the ignition... and a click. No start, no attempt to turn, just a click. It would usually turn over the second time. I thought it might be the starter relay replaced and no change. I replaced the battery. No change.
Then it did something super weird. After a click no start, it would sometimes start and fail to disengage the starter. You could hear the thing whining as the engine ran. I quickly turned the ignition off... but the starter just kept on going. I had to disconnect the terminal on the battery to stop it. Lots of sparks.
It would eventually turn over, properly disengaging the starter, but the issue persisted on and off for some weeks.
This morning, it did the weird thing where the starter would not stop, and then it began to smoke. I burned my fingers trying to disconnect the battery, but eventually got the thing off.
Now I'm stuck with no way to start. I can't afford a repair for a couple more weeks, and... yeah. Life is grand.
I also found a small rubber cylinder that I at first mistook for a bolt, lying near the starter. It seems to have some electrical damage to teo metal prongs the go into it. It appears to be hollow, and slightly melted. Theres a small rectangular hole on the other end. I have no idea what this is, where it goes or what it does.
Based on the location I found it, it had to have afllen off when the car failed to start this morning, because any motion of the car would have made it roll out of the engine compartment and into the street.
There is a parasitic draw, but I can't isolate it. I suspect it is in the starter itself, or the wiring going to it. I couldn't tell if the smoke was from the starter or the wiring.
I haven't tried starting it again. I don't want to set my car on fire.