It’s frustrating to wake up in the morning and have a car with starting issues. Though it can be a simple fix, such as a weak battery or corroded terminals, sometimes the problem can be expensive and hard to diagnose. My MDX exhibited a series of rapid clicks whenever I tried to start it, accompanied by random loss of power. The car would start after a boost but would die again when I switch it off — and no, the alternator was not the culprit. This would also happen even after a new battery replacement. Read on to see how I fixed it.

 

What happens when you hear rapid clicks?

When a car clicks rapidly, it usually means the battery doesn’t have enough power to turn over the engine, as the solenoid tries to engage the starter motor but fails.

Why was my car hard to diagnose?

  • Battery terminals were clean. When I first encountered this issue, my first thought was to clean battery terminals, as rust can block the connection between the battery and the starter. Unfortunately, this did not fix the problem.
  • Battery was new and replaced. I then thought my issue was the battery, so I headed to the closest auto store and purchased a new battery. My car started perfectly until it eventually died again the next morning. Before purchasing a new battery, go to an auto store and run some tests.
  • Alternator was checked and in good condition. Since the battery was not the problem, the next step was to run some tests on the alternator. The car held a charge without a problem, and the charging system was in working order.
  • Electrical system was fine without any parasitic draws. My mechanic checked for parasitic draws which can drain a car battery overnight. However, this again was not the issue.
  • Starter was checked and was running well😡. At this point, all fingers were pointing to the starter, and as you might have guessed, the starter was not the culprit. It makes you wonder how I fixed the problem, right?

The fix

As I almost gave up, I decided to check the ground cable, specifically the black wire that connects to the body of the car. I noticed some rust building up between the metal surface and the bolt that connects the wire. I then removed the bolt and sanded down the rust to bare metal. When I reconnected the wire, the car switched on without a problem and has never given me any trouble ever since. Note: I took it to the mechanic to install brand new cables and applied some rust preventative measures. All along it was just a ground cable blocking the connection. Who would have thought!

Equipment used

  • $12 Digital Multimeter
    Measure voltage, resistance, current to solve electrical issues of your car
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  • Innova 3160RS Pro OBD2 Scanner
    Not all ODB2 readers can read those hidden ABS, SRS, EPB and voltage codes. This device is extremely helpful, as it pinpoints problems that my car may have.
    BUY NOW
  • Portable jump starter
    It's important to have a jump starter with you at all times. It comes in handy when your car battery dies in cold weather or after storage. Depending on the vehicle model and battery size, a beefier jump starter will be required.
    BUY NOW

Kenyon Ndezi is a recent graduate, writer, creator of kenyonndez.com; and the owner of Neonbuild.com, which is a company focused on building apps for small businesses and individuals. Follow along and get inspired!

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