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Hi everyone! So the last few weeks once it got colder every now and then when I went to start my car (451 2013 fortwo passion) at the very beginning as soon as I turned the key it cranked like the battery was near dead for the first second or two but once it got through initial rough patch it cranked right up so I assumed it was the cold and left it at that as it would only do that sad crank when it was the first start of the day.
A few days ago I went to start it and it did the same thing but instead of going back to the turning over immediately after that wimpy starting attempt it does nothing. I turned the key back to off and tried again, I got all lights/sounds like when things are functional but attempting to start does nothing but get me clicks. All lights are working and as bright as usual but I decided to use a charger hoping the battery was dead and charged overnight. when I came out the next day it was doing the same so I used jumper cables and that didn’t work either.
I’ve used the “hold brake, turn key to I, etc.” several times and I got nothing. The display shows the correct gear that the shifter is in but I don’t hear any gears changing while moving the shifter but I assume that’s from it not running or something.
I disconnected the negative from the battery for over an hour hoping to reset the computer and that didn’t work. All cables/wiring and posts on battery look brand new with no corrosion or buildup.
I can’t find what the manual calls the “rear fuse panel” to check the starter fuse. I know the fuse panel under the driver side lowers once I click it out of the little holder but it doesn’t come out very far and I don’t want to break it.
Any tips I should try before jumping into replacing the starter? I know this is a lot of info to read but I wanted to be specific as I can’t afford the 1.5 hour tow to the smart center much less the arm and leg they’d charge me to look at it.
 

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First I'd try turning the engine over using a tool. It could be resistance from a dying or dead alternator. That's what happened with two of my cars!
 

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...but battery isn’t dead...”

So what voltage does the battery show? Winter cold and age could suggest that you may need a new battery?

Before even considering a 1.5 hour tow, ask a local parts store to test (CCA) the battery.

Note that because of the battery location, COVID distancing requirements may preclude an “interior” test (R&R).
 

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Typical causes for a fully charged battery in good condition to give those results would be as @Miss Mercedes mentioned or possibly corrosion at the battery or starter causing higher than normal resistance which lowers voltage into the starter. I'm betting either the battery isn't as good as you think as it can sometimes be hard to see without a good load test (been there) or something is causing excess drag, which in the Smart suggests to me the alternator might be seizing.
Throw a meter on the battery and note the high and low voltages, that will help you diagnose where to look next.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
First I'd try turning the engine over using a tool. It could be resistance from a dying or dead alternator. That's what happened with two of my cars!
How do I do that exactly? I’ve changed out plenty of parts on cars but starters aren’t an area I’m very proficient in especially on this car.
 

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How do I do that exactly? I’ve changed out plenty of parts on cars but starters aren’t an area I’m very proficient in especially on this car.
Over on the passenger's side you'll see the belts and the pulleys they run on, the lower pulley is the main crank and in the middle of it is a bolt head.
That said, it will be hard to turn over if everything is fine, but what you'll want to pay attention to the belt as it goes up to the alternator and see if you can spot the alternator pulley turning or not.
You shouldn't need to move it much to tell, but if you do need to and you don't have the gumption you can remove the plugs and it will turn over much easier.
Make certain the key isn't in the ignition and it's not a bad idea to disconnect the negative from the battery when working on the car as a safety precaution.

Probably the easiest way is to disengage the belt and check the alternator by hand, but to do that you need a 12mm hex to turn the tensioner; a tool few have...I fabricated mine.
You might need to get creative or possibly take it to a shop and have them check it out. If you're anywhere near Oshkosh (doubtful) I'd give you a hand with diagnosing it.
 

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Over on the passenger's side you'll see the belts and the pulleys they run on, the lower pulley is the main crank and in the middle of it is a bolt head.
That said, it will be hard to turn over if everything is fine, but what you'll want to pay attention to the belt as it goes up to the alternator and see if you can spot the alternator pulley turning or not.
You shouldn't need to move it much to tell, but if you do need to and you don't have the gumption you can remove the plugs and it will turn over much easier.
Make certain the key isn't in the ignition and it's not a bad idea to disconnect the negative from the battery when working on the car as a safety precaution.

Probably the easiest way is to disengage the belt and check the alternator by hand, but to do that you need a 12mm hex to turn the tensioner; a tool few have...I fabricated mine.
You might need to get creative or possibly take it to a shop and have them check it out. If you're anywhere near Oshkosh (doubtful) I'd give you a hand with diagnosing it.
Nailed it!

The quickest and most absurd test you can do is coat the belt in a lubricant then try starting the car. If the car has an easier time starting or actually does start, it's probably the alternator. In my case, the car started and immediately began slipping over the seized alternator pulley.

I got a new belt with the new alternator so it wasn't a big deal. lol
 

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I'm betting on starter. I had this happen to me a few months ago. If you live in the rust belt, the salt will eventually corrode the woven copper positive lead that goes from the starter solenoid, into the main starter motor itself. That's what happened to mine. You can get new replacement starters on eBay for about $75. If you have the tools, it's about a 25 minute job to change, not bad at all. Just make sure you unhook the battery before starting on it!

One word of warning: the eBay starters are Chinese copies. Mine works, but definitely doesn't turn the motor over quite as fast as the original, but it does work. First couple of starts, it wasn't real happy about it, but it's almost like the ecu figured it out, and I have no issues with it starting now. Just turns over slightly slower than OE.

Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk
 

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Check the electrical contact on the starter. It’s on The bottom of the car and subject to corrosion. Even if it’s still connected, if the contact has degraded, it may not pass enough current to start the car.

You should be be able to see it from the driver’s side of the car, looking in the gap between the front of the rear wheel in towards the engine.
 
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