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Car wouldn’t start, but battery and alternator are good?



  Renault Clio 2008
Hello, I’m new to this forum.

I’ve just bought a 1.1 2008 Renault Clio to get me around while a crash claim I was in gets sorted out. It was off a family friend and was pretty cheap as the clutch was on its way out.

Ive drove the car around 4-5 times, it’s not insured untill September but I’ve had Temp Cover while I’ve been getting bits and bobs sorted for it. Every time I’ve started it it’s been fine, but today I took it to get a new clutch.

Got to the garage fine, it’s around 8 miles away from me. I sat outside as I arrived early and just as I went to drive in the car wouldn’t start. As you could imagine my stomach turned, there was a clicking noise coming from the passenger footwell, the engine was trying to turn over and the electrics were turning off and on (window wipers also turning on despite the switch not even being down) when I wasn’t trying to crank the engine, all of the electrics seemed to work fine

the mechanic came out and jump started the car for me with cables, it started immediately even better than it usually would previously. I left him with the car and shrugged it off as a failing battery and put a new one in my eurocarparts basket ready to order

I went to collect the car earlier, the mechanic said I may have an electrical issue. He said he drove the car into the bay and disconnected the battery to work on the clutch, once it was ready for test drive a few hours later it gave him nothing and again wouldn’t start. He disconnected again for 15 minutes and tested it with a battery tester and all seemed to be fine, the car would then start. He checked it while off and while running and it was all green lights. He said he kept trying it over and over and it didn’t happen again. He doesn’t think it’s the alternator or the battery and it could be something else

I also drove it home with no issues.

Also, while it may be nothing I feel like the engine/car is ever so slightly shaking in intervals when Idling. The Revs also fluctuate slightly. I’m used to newer cars and I don’t know if this is all in my head or not. The engine sits around 650rpm and will fluctuate maybe +-50 every now and again, I honestly don’t know if this normal and I’ve just never noticed it before

does anyone have any ideas to what this could be? My first thought would be spark plugs or some other minor cheap electrical issue - I can’t see this being a big fix.

thanks in advance for anyone who knows what this could be
 
  Renault Clio 2008
Loose Earths.
Failing Battery.
Failing key.
Failing Immobiliser ring.

That's what I'd start with.

Do you have a second key you could try?

unfortunately only have one key, but it’s just an ordinary mechanical key - does that matter??
Do you know if these are things I can check myself? I’ve took a screenshot and I’m going to take it to an auto spark after the weekends over, I will mention all of these things, are they expensive fixes?
 
unfortunately only have one key, but it’s just an ordinary mechanical key - does that matter??
Do you know if these are things I can check myself? I’ve took a screenshot and I’m going to take it to an auto spark after the weekends over, I will mention all of these things, are they expensive fixes?
Is it a metal blade with a large plastic casing that you hold? With/without a 'remote plip' feature?

If so, there would be an immobiliser chip thingy (technical term, lol) in it, which the immobiliser ring around the ignition reads (if it's working correctly).


If you can plug one of the code reader machines into the ECU port thing (also a technical term...) you could see what codes it is giving, which would help point towards a solution.


Earth straps are usually something like:
Engine block to body
Battery to body
and maybe one more?

They are just metal straps bolted on at each end, but I'm not sure where they are on this particular car.


I think there might be an electronic component somewhere in the engine bay, where a lot of the connections go into and come out of - IIRC these sometimes corrode and fail, meaning the car does weird things, but I might also be talking about a completely different model...


In other words, don't trust me :D lol
 

Martin_172

ClioSport Club Member
Battery is on its way out or earth strip, will be one of those 2.

Take a jump lead from the negative battery terminal to a good solid metal bit of the body shell and try and start it, if it starts fine then it's an earth strap somewhere that's corroded or broken.

If not then it's the battery.

Sounds likely it's the battery as you were sitting outside the garage and it went flat (assume the radio or lights or blowers were on?)
 
  Renault Clio 2008
Battery is on its way out or earth strip, will be one of those 2.

Take a jump lead from the negative battery terminal to a good solid metal bit of the body shell and try and start it, if it starts fine then it's an earth strap somewhere that's corroded or broken.

If not then it's the battery.

Sounds likely it's the battery as you were sitting outside the garage and it went flat (assume the radio or lights or blowers were on?)
Hello

it’s very strange, I don’t think it’s the battery. It’s been sitting outside my house since I posted this thread, I’ve started it up every day since but I haven’t driven it and it’s had no problems starting. Also, the time it didn’t start was after a long trip to the garage so I’d guess the battery would’ve had enough charge to start?
The mechanic told me he tested the battery and all seemed fine so... unless the battery is faulty?

Id guess it’s the earth strip,do you know how I can locate this or if it’s an easy replacement/cheap fix?

I am going to take it somewhere eventually but it’s not insured untill the end of this month so I’m just starting it every day to see if the problem happens again and I can get a more detailed description of the issue it has when cranking
 

Archtronics

ClioSport Club Member
  Clio 182
You can work it out by doing the test martin described above.

Earth straps are easy to replace, if its not damaged it probably just needs cleaning up to get a better connection.
 
If it starts fine when the car has not moved but then doesn't start after it has moved, that could suggest that an earth strap is moving out of a 'good contact' position.
 

Touring_Rob

ClioSport Club Member
Has it failed to start since they tested it?

It could be as minor as corroded battery terminals or clamps. It most certainly is not the immobaliser or a failing key. Don't even waste your time looking into that.

It could be earth straps as suggested, Martin has recommended a very reasonable test.

Things turning off and on, lights etc. suggests that there was a large voltage drop, this only occurs when there is a very large current draw or a high resistance somewhere. There are several earth straps and the positive for the started goes right to the battery.

If it happens again try Martins test, then clean battery terminals, then check wiring between battery and battery connectors, then check earth straps for damage/corrosion, then replace battery, then replace starter. Stop when the problem is solved and go from cheapest to most expensive.
 
  Renault Clio 2008
Has it failed to start since they tested it?

It could be as minor as corroded battery terminals or clamps. It most certainly is not the immobaliser or a failing key. Don't even waste your time looking into that.

It could be earth straps as suggested, Martin has recommended a very reasonable test.

Things turning off and on, lights etc. suggests that there was a large voltage drop, this only occurs when there is a very large current draw or a high resistance somewhere. There are several earth straps and the positive for the started goes right to the battery.

If it happens again try Martins test, then clean battery terminals, then check wiring between battery and battery connectors, then check earth straps for damage/corrosion, then replace battery, then replace starter. Stop when the problem is solved and go from cheapest to most expensive.
Hello. I’ve tested this more over the past week.

the engine has not failed to start again since it happened the first time, I’ve tried and tried and it’s been good so far. I’ve turned every electrical component on and off and tried to really get the battery working and it seems be fine. It’s been on my mind as I know for a fact the one time it happens again I’ll be stuck somewhere inconvenient.

When i mentioned the idling revs though - I’ve noticed that when I turn and electrical component on or off, most notably the front window heater, the revs will drop for a few seconds. After some research I’ve read in a few places that this is just the alternator and voltage adjusting and it’s more noticeable in smaller capacity engines. This could possibly explain it and it seems to be nothing to worry about?

I don’t have any jump leads but once it’s insured I will get the earth straps checked as this seems to be the most suggested issue

hell for all I know the mechanic who replaced my clutch could’ve gave them a wipe down and maybe it’ll never happen again, who knows
 
  Renault Clio 2008
If it starts fine when the car has not moved but then doesn't start after it has moved, that could suggest that an earth strap is moving out of a 'good contact' position.
This does make sense, and you’re probably right. I’d assume after an 8 mile trip the car should’ve started fine after only being off for 10 minutes. On the other hand though, a jump started the car fine and nothing had moved when it wouldn’t start - would this make sense to happen?

the mechanic said once he got it in the bay he disconnected the battery, replaced the clutch, put it back in and the car wouldn’t start. He disconnected again for 15 minuted, tested it (came back fine) reconnected and it started

maybe on his second attempt at connecting he got the earths “just right” and that could explain why it’s started consistently since then?
 
Hmm. That does confuse things... :D lol

The problem with electrical stuff is that it can be elusive when trying to track it down! But earth straps are quick and easy to check / clean the contact surfaces / refit, so as always, start with the simple and cheap things first :)

You might even be able to check/adjust them yourself - it's a 1.1 so there should be lots of room to work round the engine in the engine bay!

I'm not sure which version 2008 is - mk3? mk4? - but there are some 'exploding diagrams' on this site, so you might be able to find one/some that show where the earth straps are located :)

 

Coops Mk1

ClioSport Club Member
  Lots of Scrap...
for the earth straps, clean up the bolts and the bolt holes too not just the straps and mating faces. I fell foul of that, fixed starting issues for a couple of says then came back and it was due to the bolts themselves doing a lot of the contact for a good earth
 

Touring_Rob

ClioSport Club Member
Hello. I’ve tested this more over the past week.

the engine has not failed to start again since it happened the first time, I’ve tried and tried and it’s been good so far. I’ve turned every electrical component on and off and tried to really get the battery working and it seems be fine. It’s been on my mind as I know for a fact the one time it happens again I’ll be stuck somewhere inconvenient.

When i mentioned the idling revs though - I’ve noticed that when I turn and electrical component on or off, most notably the front window heater, the revs will drop for a few seconds. After some research I’ve read in a few places that this is just the alternator and voltage adjusting and it’s more noticeable in smaller capacity engines. This could possibly explain it and it seems to be nothing to worry about?

I don’t have any jump leads but once it’s insured I will get the earth straps checked as this seems to be the most suggested issue

hell for all I know the mechanic who replaced my clutch could’ve gave them a wipe down and maybe it’ll never happen again, who knows

Im sorry I didn't read your message properly the first time round.

RPM dropping or rising when rear screen heater, or headlight full beam is on is fine and fairly normal on most cars like this.

It may have been that the earth strap between chassis leg and gearbox case was not right and the garage fixed the issue (without realising) when changing your clutch. If the problem has not come back at all then it sounds like a win. Let us know if it happens again but perhaps buy some cheap jump leads which you can leave in the boot just incase you get stranded somewhere.

Good luck!
 


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