Edmunds Answers



  • ray80 09/18/12 2:01 pm PST

    Sounds like battery problem (the not starting part). Because it dies while running I think the charging system is suspect. While the light may be on, it takes a lot more juice to turn it over to start. Could also be a cable/connection problem.

  • zaken1 09/18/12 2:59 pm PST

    I probably can help you with this issue; but we both need to agree on the meaning of the words we use; and use consistent, commonly understood language, in order to be able to communicate effectively with each other.

    You wrote the car "will not turn over to start" in one sentence; and then in another sentence, you wrote "I have full lights when turning car over." When a mechanic uses the phrase "turning over" it means the starter is turning the internal parts inside the motor. This can be seen under the hood when it happens; as the fan belts, water pump, alternator, power steering pump, and air conditioning compressor pulleys will be turning when the ignition key is turned to the "start" position. The whirring sound of the starter can also be heard when the engine turns over.

    "Turning over" is only correctly used to mean what the engine does before it starts. If it then starts; this is called "running" "firing" or "beginning to run." That way; you can say "The engine turns over; but it does not run." and this will be clearly understood by a mechanic.

    Unfortunately, some people misuse the term "turning over" to mean that the engine starts running. Using the words "turning over" to mean the engine actually starts running is misleading and very confusing to a mechanic. This is a VERY important distinction for a mechanic who is trying to figure out the cause of a starting problem.

    Another way you can tell the difference between an engine that is turning over and an engine that is running; is that an engine that is only turning over will stop as soon as you let go of the key. An engine that is running will keep going after you let go of the key, and when it runs, it will change sound and rev up when you step on the accelerator pedal. If it is just turning over; it will not rev up if you step on the accelerator pedal.

    It is also important to understand the limits of the words you use: You wrote "I have full lights while turning car over." This could either mean that all the little indicator lights on the dashboard were lit when trying to start; or it might mean that you also turned on the headlights when trying to start, and saw that the headlights stayed bright while cranking the motor. This is another critically important distinction; because the little indicator lights on the dashboard require such a small amount of power that they will often be lit while cranking; even if the battery does not have enough power to start the engine. But the headlights draw far more power than the dash indicator lights; so if the battery is weak or has become discharged; the headlights will dim way down or go out if they are on while trying to start.

    If you are wiling to use these terms correctly; please click the "answer this question" button below my message to post a response, and in the box that appears, tell me what happens when you turn the headlights on and then turn the key to the start position. Do the headlights stay bright or do they dim or go out? Can you hear the whirring sound of the starter while the key is turned to the "start" position?

    Make sure the parking brake is firmly set, and try to start the motor. If you cannot hear the sound of the starter when you turn the key, and the headlights stay bright; try turning the key just to the position where the dash indicator lights come on, and then step on the brake pedal and move the gear selector lever to the "N" position. Then try to start the motor with the gearshift in neutral. Tell me if the "error" message still appears. After typing your message in the box, click the "submit answer" button. Thank you for your cooperation.


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