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Discussion Starter #1
We don't drive our Smart too often, so when it cranked slowly and refused to start, sounding for all the world like a low battery, I put the battery on the charger (which only went up to 2 amps). Two days later, same thing. Took the battery out to be tested, and it passes the load test and measures good. It also does the same thing when attempting a jump-start, so I figured it must be corrosion on the battery terminals. Filed/steel-wooled all connections at both the battery and down at the starter, added dielectric grease.

Same thing. Engine goes "wuh-wuh....wuh-wuh....wuh-wuh" and won't start.

How certain are we that I just need to swap in a new starter? I hate trouble-shooting via whack-a-mole parts replacement...

Thanks for any help anyone can offer.
 

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Check the large diameter wire leading to the starter. It’s on the bottom of the engine and subject to a lot of road punishment. If it corrodes enough (like mine did), it will not be able to pass sufficient current to crank the starter motor. The results can be a sluggish crank, clicks but no cranking, and eventually the connector will break altogether.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I removed and cleaned both the positive lead from the battery and the short braided lead from the solenoid into the starter off, scoured them, smeared them with dielectric grease, and replaced them. Also cleaned the blade connector for the starter solenoid lead and used a tiny screwdriver to clean inside that connector, though the fact that the starter is turning suggests that one is fine. None of these ministrations have had any effect on the sluggish starter sound.

Is this just a starter winding that suddenly crapped out?
 

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Great job on cleaning the starter wires. It sounds like you have all the bases covered with respect to clean connectors and solid contacts.

I think it’s time to have your battery load tested. Many auto supply chains like AutoZone or Advance Auto will load test them free of charge.
 

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Great job on cleaning the starter wires. It sounds like you have all the bases covered with respect to clean connectors and solid contacts.

I think it’s time to have your battery load tested. Many auto supply chains like AutoZone or Advance Auto will load test them free of charge.
He already did that as mentioned in his original post.
 

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Can a battery test okay and still be bad? How old is the battery?

Len
 

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Oliver, no disrespect intended, but I think it’s worth “getting a second opinion” on the battery. If the wires good and contacts are clean, the I would revisit the battery again.

Len, yes, a battery can show the correct voltage, but drop significantly once a heavy load is placed on he battery. The starter is a huge current draw on the battery, often hundreds of amps. Depending on the equipment used to test, it’s possible not enough load was placed on the battery, in which case it would appear ok. I’ve been bitten by this a few times, chasing electrical problems where none existed.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm about to donate this car to charity. Turn the key and get a low-battery "wuh-wuh...wuh-wuh" sound. Tried a new battery, cleaned terminals at battery and at starter, tried jump starting, battery charging, replaced starter, you name it. It's like the engine has lost its will to run. Here in Detroit there's no decent service center to take it to, and I'm pretty mechanically inclined, and just can't imagine what else would make the car crank slowly when there's plenty of voltage and a new starter. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Not a battery thing. Have replaced battery and used jumper cables to big powerful cars. Same wuh-wuh sound...
 

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Hi Liam 2011,
If you replaced your battery and starter and assuming they are now functional then either the energy provided by your battery is dissipated (lost) on its way to the starter or your motor provides too much resistance to turning.

Did you check whether cables to the starter motor are getting warm if not hot? But some fuses should actually blow if this is the case. How is the connection to the starter (the one under the car)?

If you take out the spark plugs and try to crank, is the motor turned easier by the starter?
 

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Hi i have the same problem and thought was a problem with the battery but in the end the problem from the Starter. It was defect. I chang it and everything back normal.
It took a lot of time to change it plus money 💰.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
PROBLEM DIAGNOSED!

Tow-strapped the car to AutoEurope of Birmingham MI who discovered a seized alternator (that’s a thing?).

I plan to tow-strap it home to make that repair.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
PROBLEM DIAGNOSED!

Tow-strapped the car to AutoEurope of Birmingham MI who discovered a seized alternator (that’s a thing?).

I plan to tow-strap it home to make that repair.
 

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Wow! That was an unexpected failure! I can’t say I’ve ever seen that happen in any vehicle before! Glad to hear you’re getting it fixed!
 

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PROBLEM DIAGNOSED!

Tow-strapped the car to AutoEurope of Birmingham MI who discovered a seized alternator (that’s a thing?).

I plan to tow-strap it home to make that repair.
It's a thing on the 450s - pretty sure this is one of the few reported here on the 451. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Okay Smart Hive mind: I replaced the seized alternator tonight. Easy-peasy with the great instructions found elsewhere on this site. Problem: I think the shop I took it to to diagnose the problem did something to remove tension from the belt tensioner, because it's nowhere near the belt (and I tested the new belt to ensure it's the same size as the old one).

Is there some way to relieve and reset the tension? I loosened the E14 star bold on the mount to no effect. Does it have something to do with those indexed tabs sticking up? I have read a lot about 12mm allen wrenches filed down, and I see that hex hole, but there's no spring tension to relieve. Do I just need to replace the tensioner now? The mission creep and sequential Rockauto purchases are bumming me out...

IMG_0364.jpg
 
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