Starting Trouble

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Hello again.

Its time for this weeks edition of the Triggerman's car problems. Today as i was getting ready for school, and i went to turn on the car.....and nothing. At first i thought the battery was done. But i could have on the radio etc. I plug it in nightly. Anyways at first the car wanted to turn over.....however eventually after putting it into Neutral it finally started. The car was a little low on oil. But i took care of that now and it seemed to start fine. The car in question is a 1994 Toyota Corolla, what could have caused this problem? Could it be something quite serious?

posted by  triggerman

Okay, let me see if I've got this straight. First try, no crank, nothing. Then it would crank slowly. Then you put it into neutral and it cranked good. Is that the short and curly of it?

Auto or stick?

posted by  vwhobo

no it always cranked slowly but would never turn over. and its an Automatic

posted by  triggerman

Okay, we've got a terminology problem going here. Cranking and turning over would be the same thing. Was it exceptionally cold this morning? Is it possible you left on the dome light, glovebox light, etc that would drain down the battery overnight? Am I to assume that after the first start it's been okay for the rest of the day?

posted by  vwhobo

alright well sorry im not a certified auto-mechanic here. the engine wanted to turnover.......is that better? i am not aware of leaving on anylights, and it wasnt that cold maybe -15. Thus far this year it has been -45 and it started fine then. Well after the first start it started easier but it still struggled. But now after putting in some oil, and continual restarts its starting like usual. However, the check engine light.....has made a habit of coming on and staying on for about 3 seconds.

posted by  triggerman

Okay, I sense a little attitude in the first sentence, and I dont care for ir at all. I also don't care for the fact that it took three posts to mention the check engine light. At any rate...

I can't remember off the top of my head if your car's OBD monitor's charging system voltage or not. If so the problems may be related. It sounds to me like your battery is on the way out the door.

I guess my question about the temp was a little ambiguous. Your "wasn't that cold" is about 30 degrees colder than I've seen in more than ten years.:ohcrap: -15 is tough on a battery so that's my best guess from your description. Another remote possibility is your oil. Is it the proper viscosity? Too heavy an oil will cause slow cranking.

posted by  vwhobo

well it took my 3 posts to recall that it came on. i had an oil change done back about early November and i put in 5W-30 oil which according to the manual is to be used into really cold temperatures. and since then ive been using 5W-30. Yes it has started a little slower, but it has always started. I dont recall how old the battery is, but i just remambered seeing a bit of corrosion. could this play a large role in starting the engine?

posted by  triggerman

Yes it could. Without having proper test equipment (I assume you don't) this is how I would handle the situation.

1. Remove, clean and tighten both battery clamps and posts. Make sure you loosen remove the negative cable first then reinstall and tighten it last. Think safety first.

2. Try the starting routine again tomorrow morning. If you have a problem again, go someplace and have the battery/charging/starting systems tested (Sears, Advance Auto, Autozone, etc do it free), or go to a shop and have it done (expect to pay a few dollars).

Honestly I still think it'll be the battery. Normally when someone says they don't remember how old it is, it's due for a change. Good luck.

posted by  vwhobo

Well........i just went out to do the starting routine now.......and it started fine. I checked the manual really quickly and found that the little Oil Light means Low Oil Pressure.......since i was low and oil and that anal light kept coming on.....that could also be a contributing factor. Thanks for the tips but i dont think ill try Step 1. id rather stay away from anything electrical.

posted by  triggerman

Electricity is your friend. Go for it, it's not scary at all.

posted by  vwhobo

Look, clean the corrsion off. put baking soda in water and stirr it. take loose the cables and pour it on the cables. it will get rid of the corrsion..go to an auto parts store and pick up a terminal cleaner...its a specially shaped wire brush. put petrolium jelly (vasaline) on the terminals and it will never get corroded again...if you keep putting in on every few months.

posted by  DodgeRida67

When I worked at a garage we used copper grease on the terminals, some people advised against this but I found that it worked wonders in keeping the terminals free from corrosion and easy to move! and it also looked cleaner when done than some other methods, it also looks good on a service as the customer sees their vehicle has been well looked after by us lol! :thumbs: It's the same principal as vasaline though I suppose.

posted by  Cliffy

Always keep the battery terminals clean and tight. As well as the battery, especially the top and sides. Voltage can leak across terminals and make your battery go dead. Cleanlyness is key to the proformance/life of a battery.

posted by  DodgeRida67

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