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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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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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