Turn key, get click & beeps but no start

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My wife has a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse GTS 3.0L that is giving a problem starting. She drove it a few miles yesterday, shut it off for a few minutes, and when trying to restart it gives a single loud click followed by a continuous humming sound from under the hood, and inside gives a double dinging chime. A few minutes later after several attempts it started and ran fine. She said she experienced this once before but did not tell me, and this morning I am getting the same problem.

My first thought was the battery, which is six years old, but when it did crank she said it sounded like a normal cranking speed. The battery reads 12.6 volts when the car is off and the headlights appear full brightness and do not dim when attempting to start. I tried jumping the car to a good battery connected directly to the battery posts and no change.

The clutch safety switch button is intact and depresses easily, and jiggling the key does not help.

Any ideas are appreciated!
 

JHZR2

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Sounds like when a battery cant really source the current necessary... So something is able to move quickly, but not enough to do the work. Id suspect that a 2003 car is not push start, nor has very advanced logic to get the engine moving.

Stuck starter solenoid? Weak (capacity-wise) battery?

Id put a meter on while cranking and see if the voltage briefly drops too low.
 
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I would tap the starter with an appropriate non destructive force the next time it does not turn over; probably more helpful if done while the key is turned.

Sounds like a solenoid problem IMHO
 
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My wife has a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse GTS 3.0L that is giving a problem starting. She drove it a few miles yesterday, shut it off for a few minutes, and when trying to restart it gives a single loud click followed by a continuous humming sound from under the hood, and inside gives a double dinging chime. A few minutes later after several attempts it started and ran fine. She said she experienced this once before but did not tell me, and this morning I am getting the same problem.

My first thought was the battery, which is six years old, but when it did crank she said it sounded like a normal cranking speed. The battery reads 12.6 volts when the car is off and the headlights appear full brightness and do not dim when attempting to start. I tried jumping the car to a good battery connected directly to the battery posts and no change.

The clutch safety switch button is intact and depresses easily, and jiggling the key does not help.

Any ideas are appreciated!

The first thing is to diagnose it properly, have someone turn the Key to start while you check for +12v at the starter solenoid (small wire, not the main).
If there is 12V there you know the ignition switch and clutch switch are functioning properly.
Check the main battery cables +/- for good contact and do an amp draw on the starter, it may have worn brushes or bad solenoid contactss.

If no +12v at the solenoid then you should first jump the clutch switch and try it (just to test, do not leave it this way), if still no joy check any relay that may be in that circuit and finally the ignition switch. Jiggling the key is probably only the lock cylinder and not the switch itself but look in the FSM for clear location.
 

Tom NJ

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The engine compartment in this little car is so densely packed that I can't even see the starter motor or solenoid from the top or bottom with a flashlight. The voltage at the battery barely budges when trying to start. The battery connections appear rather clean and the voltage at the posts and clamps are the same. Also tried jumping it connected both directly to the battery posts and to the clamps with no joy. The ground wire from the battery dives down into an inaccessible zone.
 

OVERKILL

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The engine compartment in this little car is so densely packed that I can't even see the starter motor or solenoid from the top or bottom with a flashlight. The voltage at the battery barely budges when trying to start. The battery connections appear rather clean and the voltage at the posts and clamps are the same. Also tried jumping it connected both directly to the battery posts and to the clamps with no joy. The ground wire from the battery dives down into an inaccessible zone.

This, to me, sounds like the solenoid not engaging, as when the starter engages there should be a noticeable draw on the battery.
 
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The engine compartment in this little car is so densely packed that I can't even see the starter motor or solenoid from the top or bottom with a flashlight. The voltage at the battery barely budges when trying to start. The battery connections appear rather clean and the voltage at the posts and clamps are the same. Also tried jumping it connected both directly to the battery posts and to the clamps with no joy. The ground wire from the battery dives down into an inaccessible zone.

Try testing or jumping the clutch switch first. Do not start throwing parts at it, that can prove to be a costly proposition and as many times as not produces less than the desired results..
I need to look at a diagram later for this to get a better idea on what is where.
 
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egrevent this so starter
My wife has a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse GTS 3.0L that is giving a problem starting. She drove it a few miles yesterday, shut it off for a few minutes, and when trying to restart it gives a single loud click followed by a continuous humming sound from under the hood, and inside gives a double dinging chime. A few minutes later after several attempts it started and ran fine. She said she experienced this once before but did not tell me, and this morning I am getting the same problem.

My first thought was the battery, which is six years old, but when it did crank she said it sounded like a normal cranking speed. The battery reads 12.6 volts when the car is off and the headlights appear full brightness and do not dim when attempting to start. I tried jumping the car to a good battery connected directly to the battery posts and no change.

The clutch safety switch button is intact and depresses easily, and jiggling the key does not help.

Any ideas are appreciated!
Head lights dimming is the first test to see if starter is getting current. But many systems prevent this so that the starter gets all available current that battery has to give. Look at the dome light. If it dims, you know current is getting to starter and switch, relay, wires are working at that moment. Maybe one of these is intermittent. I had this happen to me and I narrowed it down to switch. When I held it in start position and wiggled the key strongly, car started. My experience.
 

Kokopelli34179

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My previous car, an 2002 Jetta had similar problem. To me, it sounds like a starter motor itself, or the starter solenoid.

I ended up getting the starter replaced. It made the same clicking and humming sounds as you describe.
 

Tom NJ

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Thank you all for your helpful advice! After trying all of your suggestions that I could to no avail, my lovely wife decided not to rely on my admittedly limited repair capabilities and is taking her car to our local mechanic. I'll let y'all know the diagnosis.
 
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Had an Oldsmobile one time that would do that. Start fine and then occasionally act like a dead battery, but then start again after a few attempts.

Turned out one of the battery cables was corroded almost in half about 6 inches up from the battery terminal, hidden by the cable outer cover.
 
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My guess is bad starter, but put a voltmeter on the battery terminals and see if voltage goes below 10V while cranking. Six y/o battery may just be getting weak and/or bad connections.
 

Tom NJ

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Well it looks like y'all were pretty much spot on - our mechanic says it is the starter motor. Likewise the tow truck driver who tried to start it also said starter motor. So a rebuilt starter motor plus labor plus a Mobil 1 oil & filter change comes to $306. Not bad.
 
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What "brand" of starter did you get Tom ??


Be mindful that the auto part stores starters and alternators can be bad right out of the box... I had a "new" alternator put in my old Nissan Sentra and it lasted all of 12 miles... And I was walking... My lady got lucky so far with the Carquest alternator put in her 98 Camry... So far anyhow after 9 months.
 
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