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George H.
George H., ASE Certified Technician
Category: Saturn
Satisfied Customers: 18305
Experience:  ASE Master Tech 15+ Years
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Saturn SL1 Won't Start, Makes Clicking Sound.

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Saturn SL1 won't start, but battery is brand new. It makes clicking sound, the dash lights go on, but it doesn't try to turn over. I'm thinking it's the starter, but need confirmation of likelihood. It has had starter issues in the past.

Hello I will help you with your question,

Is the clicking sound coming from the starter?

Make sure the battery cable is not full of corrosion on the positive end near the battery and then if it is still clicking at the starter check the voltage at the starter while the key is in the crank position, if you have full battery voltage available to the large starter terminal and battery voltage at the small terminal but the starter is not turning the starter needs to be replaced.

Let me know if you can make these tests

Thank you

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes, the clicking sound is coming from the starter. The battery is 2 days old, brand new, and the leads are corrosion free. My son-in-law is coming at 1pm EST to look at this but he is not a mechanic, nor am I. He HAS, though, replaced starters, so he may know what you are talking about. How will we know if, as you said, "I have full battery voltage available to the large starter terminal and battery voltage at the small terminal?"


If the cable is free of corrosion it does sound like the starter needs to be replaced but if your son-in-law can use a voltmeter to check at the starter for battery voltage just to be sure it is available to the starter then you can be sure changing the starter will solve your issue.

The starter is on the back of the engine so he will have to raise the vehicle fairly high to be able to get it changed. he should be able to make the checks while it is raised.

Let me know if you need further guidance once he gets there. I am here all day so let me know how I can help.

Thank you

George H. and other Saturn Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He doesn't have a voltmeter, but we've had this same problem with this car before. Yeah, we learned how hard this particular model's starter is to get to (bummer, since I only have a jack & LIMITED funds). He seems to want to believe it's the alternator, but I do not think so, since it's acting EXACTLY as it has acted in the past and we've gone through this 2x before. George, can you at least eliminate the alternator as the likely problem?

If you can measure the battery (voltmeter is about $10) and see if it is above 12.3 volts you can rule out the alternator. Of course if it ran you could measure the battery voltage while running to see if it is at least 12.9 volts then you know the alternator is working.

An interesting fact to know about this system is that the charging wire from the alternator runs to the large post on the starter to connect with the battery cable so if that wire is burned or disconnected it will not charge the battery

If you only have a jack be careful and support the vehicle, replacing a starter is not worth getting hurt over.

Let me know how I can help


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thanks for your help. My son-in-law wanted to come, take my battery out & take it to AutoZone to test it, but it sounds like the purchase of a voltmeter would serve a dual purpose, so worth the $10. Thanks for the add'l info on the charging wire! :-) I'll let him know all this info when he gets here & follow-up with you, if need be. Appreciate your help!

Ok, I think you need a cheap voltmeter so check the voltage of the battery, if it is at 12.3 or 12.6 there is nothing wrong with it and the voltage is not getting to the starter.

Let me know how I can help

Thank you

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

In the end, my son-in-law listened to ME, lol....rarely happens.

It WAS the starter and he has replaced it, with much back-breaking effort, as we only had a jack & the 2nd bolt was VERY hard to reach. Have a great evening! :-)

Glad you got it done, please let me know if I can be of help in the future

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