Here is the latest reader Q, along with my reply!
Willie asks: I have a 2009 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Hse. It clicks when trying to start, a couple of times, then starts and keeps running. It did this once before about a month ago and then it just stopped and was back to normal, no noise. It started back up a couple days ago and did it today and stopped again. I had the battery, alternator and starter checked out today and was informed that they were all ok. Do you have any idea what the problem could be?
That click you are hearing may be the electric fuel pump – which in most modern cars is located inside the fuel tank. One way to test this is to try a different starting procedure. Instead of immediately trying to crank the engine, move the key from the Off position to Run – but not Start – and wait a few moments. Then turn the key to Start. If the hard start problem goes away using this method, you should have someone check the fuel pump.
Your LR may have pushbutton start, which will make this hard to do, though.
Another source of clicking sounds at startup is, of course, the starter solenoid. This engages when the ignition key is moved to Start – and causes the starter to spin, which rotates the engine and (hopefully) gets it started. If the starter is bad, you’ll sometimes just get a click as you try to start the engine; the starter motor won’t do anything at all, or it will seem “tired” and make sad noises as it spins. A bad ground/connection or weak battery can also cause intermittent starting problems/noises.
But let’s step back a minute. You’re dealing with the starting system here and each part has to work properly for the system to work correctly.
The first (easiest/cheapest) thing to check is that that battery cables and connections are good – and clean. Use a terminal cleaner/wire brush to remove crud around the posts and ends of the cables. The terminal ends of the cables should not be frayed and the connector clamps not loose. Look around the firewall area for any loose wires (grounding cables).
The battery is next. It must produce sufficient voltage to start the car. If it’s low, that could be the source of your problems. In the past, before computer-controlled fuel injection, you could often start a car with a weak battery. Slow cranking was your warning that the battery was dying. But in most modern cars, if the engine computer reads low voltage/not enough voltage to run the electronic fuel injection system, the engine won’t crank at all.
You sometimes get very little warning – the engine just won’t start.
If the cables/battery check out (load test the battery at a car parts store that has the testing equipment if you have any doubt about the battery) you will also want to be sure the alternator is properly charging the battery and providing sufficient power during engine operation. If it’s not, the battery – assuming it was good to start – will be slowly sapped of its power and eventually it will die and the engine won’t start or run. This can easily be tested, too.
The starter/solenoid can also be tested but it will be necessary to remove it from the engine to do the physical inspection and test.
Remember: It’s a system. Each component has to work for the system to work.
Hope this was helpful!
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