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Battery drained, car won't start with jump, rapid clicking instead


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TC
Novice

Jan 8, 2016, 1:53 PM

Post #1 of 7 (863 views)
Battery drained, car won't start with jump, rapid clicking instead Sign In

I have a 2002 Nissan Xterra. No problem until Tuesday and our first big rainstorm. On Tuesday morning, I was able to start the car in the rain, but I could tell the battery was weak, so I took my other car to work instead. Now, three days later, the battery in the Xterra is further drained, to the point where nothing happens when I turn the key -- not even a click. When I connect jumper cables to a good battery and turn the key, I get rapid clicking, but no start.

The rapid clicking makes me suspect the starter, but the battery drain and the fact that the problem occurred coincident with the rain make me suspect a short circuit. Can anyone offer advice or suggest further diagnostic steps before I run out and buy a new starter?

Further info:
I looked for moisture in the engine compartment during the rain, but everything seemed dry and properly protected.
I've looked for fraying and corrosion in the electrical system, but everything seems to be in reasonable shape.
I own a voltmeter, but I don't know how to use it to find a short circuit.


(This post was edited by TC on Jan 8, 2016, 1:59 PM)


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Jan 8, 2016, 3:03 PM

Post #2 of 7 (853 views)
Re: Battery drained, car won't start with jump, rapid clicking instead Sign In

The battery is junk. You need to get a new battery and stop messing around with it.



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Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jan 8, 2016, 3:15 PM

Post #3 of 7 (850 views)
Re: Battery drained, car won't start with jump, rapid clicking instead Sign In

Agree and more. If you get nothing and earlier just the rapid fire clicking the battery has not enough power so the clicking is saving the starter. Jumping isn't going to work on a battery that dead for any cable people would seriously buy like $200 plus bucks for good enough ones and still may not overcome totally fried battery.


It's not the starter IMO so don't be wasting your time and money on that idea,


T



TC
Novice

Jan 8, 2016, 4:27 PM

Post #4 of 7 (841 views)
Re: Battery drained, car won't start with jump, rapid clicking instead Sign In

Thanks to both you guys for the advice. I put a new battery in the car, and it starts great now.

Tom, thanks for telling me that jumping won't start a car if the battery is too dead. Before today, I had thought that jumping a car was effectively the same as replacing the battery with a good one, and a good way to disqualify the battery as the problem. Now I know I was wrong about that.

I have a follow-up question: Does rain affect the health of the battery? I'm still trying to figure out why my battery seemed strong right up to Monday, but failed when the rain came on Tuesday. I find it hard to believe that was a coincidence.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jan 9, 2016, 1:04 AM

Post #5 of 7 (823 views)
Re: Battery drained, car won't start with jump, rapid clicking instead Sign In

You may still have an excessive drain on your battery called a parasitic drain and rain might bring that out but not directly a problem for the battery. I wash them if they are out for any reason, dry and re-install.
Folks should know that jumper cables are about a thing of the past. You either have to have super high end ones or a good jumper box much preferred than using another car. You can really harm the donor car and or both alternators or more.
In fact if you do succeed at starting a car with any jump it's real nice to know why it needed it to begin with - leaving something on is usually the most common but anything a reason.
Beat on this a bit: When a totally dead battery does work with any jump the alternator is working too hard and that IMO should only be done long enough to get that vehicle in sight to a real battery charger not let it charge up itself. Sounds odd but car isn't meant to charge dead batteries! People should really own even the slowest battery charger if they want to mess with cars and batteries. Check them out - they are not that expensive but better slower so that car if a legit reason is out of service for a day if need be or risk some wildly most costly problems.
Tired, but should write a thing on loads on wiring including jumper cables - it even gets into you home to use the right extension cords for the specific need and always did,


T



TC
Novice

Jan 9, 2016, 3:14 PM

Post #6 of 7 (804 views)
Re: Battery drained, car won't start with jump, rapid clicking instead Sign In

Thanks for the info. I didn't know about jump-starting potentially harming the donor car. I'll be careful about offering jump starts in the future.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jan 9, 2016, 7:00 PM

Post #7 of 7 (798 views)
Re: Battery drained, car won't start with jump, rapid clicking instead Sign In

I'll beat on it some more: None this year and long retired but still will do road calls out of a car - large car fully equipped with extra strong battery separate from the car's but is charged by the car or when parked. Can carry that and the now probably $400 jumper cables and make anything start! Well, at least crank so I can go from there if it doesn't start.


In wild cases and super dead batteries allow the car to run as well but if victim car's battery is junk or a total short without a tool the reaction of just hooking up tells me this ain't going to work out. Many are just a reading/map light left on for a few days and to pound on this (I'm in New England) get dang cold and dead batteries also freeze, charged ones do not so may find one split right open new or not!


OK: Once if I win and car starts I'll let both cars run and charge up the victim vehicle's battery till alternators are cooled off or take breaks literally feeling them till dead car can take off and be fine or if no time for all that say it's over and let me charge that and check that one via charger and not vehicles but you lost your car for that day over it.


Said I was done mostly. Used to carry a universal spare new battery if a person really needed to go and take the battery in trouble back to shop then see car and owner later to put it all back. This is for folks not just passing thru but were from around here. Another ask and see if they would just buy that universal battery and use it or get home if all the way to Florida many times up for the holidays could say you are all set but it's not the exact one for the vehicle do what you should when you get to your home base.


Buy another and repeat as needed or give up and tow the car/vehicle for a real check out and fix.


Well, doing that finally wrecked my own alternator and I keep a spare of those for my own anyway.


By far most are just low on charge and within about or less than 1/2 hour can just be on their way.


The skinny is yes it harms the donor car/vehicle or not thrilled with power of jumper boxes in extreme cases so have a fully charged 850 AMP battery to carry to a stuck vehicle if needed as the jumper box.


To do this with NO damage takes knowing when it's done or not and of course some time. There's more to know about just this silly but quite serious stuff. Objective #1 is don't just get it going only for some stranger to find out a few hours away their vehicle burned up its alternator.


Do this stuff right and do it once not just create a series of subsequent problems. Folks need to understand. The real story is a vehicle has no conscience and doesn't give a hoot if you get where you are going yours or mine at any time it dang well feels like it.


You don't need to become a full tech over it just understand what troubles to avoid and future problems tons more trouble than a battery you can avoid.


Good luck. Play smart, Tom







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