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I've got a 96 Prism with the 1.6 4AFE and there seem to be several problems with my car that developed all of a sudden. I want to mention everything because I don't know if they're related or just coincidence. . .

About a week ago my wife mentioned that the battery light was coming on every once in a while. The battery and alternator both seemed good, and the car never had trouble starting, so I assumed it was a loose connection in the gauge cluster and left it at that. . . bad move.

Before going on a 200 mile trip, I added FI cleaner to the gas, changed the oil, the oil filter, and the pcv valve. . . Returning from the trip 2 days ago, the battery light and the brake light, and the ABS active light all came on and stayed on for a while, then went off for a while and then back on, off, on, you get the picture. My wife said the car felt weaker and louder, but it was only subtly so if at all.

This morning, the car wouldn't start. Clicking noises, but not slow like I usually hear with a bad starter. fast clicking noises and the lights do not dim significantly when I turn the key. Battery is strong. connections seem good.

I looked under the hood, and I saw something that made my heart sink. I've got a cracked exhaust manifold. Is this completely unrelated? Or is it possible that it could have caused the O2 sensor to foul, which is messing with the computer or electrical system? I'm sure that I would have noticed it while changing the oil, so it probably happened right before we returned home from the trip (probably when I drove around in traffic for an hour with the AC on in the pouring rain...).

I will check the starter solenoid, but I don't want to replace anything at this point until I know what caused it to go bad in the first place. Oh, and there is no way that I'm bringing the car to a toyota or chevy dealer, so don't even suggest it. I may bring it to my personal mechanic, but only if I can't do the work myself.

Sorry about the length of this post, and thanks in advance for any advice.
 

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Country Hick
2001 Nissan Pulsar
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1,339 Posts
I have a few answers, not sure if any will help.

The problems all seem unrelated. I had the same problem of a cracked exaust manifold on my 4A-FE (when i had it in the car). It was put down to the fact that the manifold is hardened, but not tempered. As you may or may not know, if something is hardened and not tempered it can become very brittle.

The manifold itself though is hardened to withstand severe heat, and not tempered because of the severe heat (yes it's ironic i know), but what had happened on my car is we did not let the car cool enough on a long trip. My sugesstion here is to let the car idle for a few minutes after a long trip and, if possible, kill the engine and turn the ignition to on for a further few minutes to let the fan cool the manifold slowly.

As for the fast clicking, my fiance had the same problem on her 88 Nissan Pintara (baby skyline) and it just turned out to be a foul solinoid that wasn't engaging the starter good enough.

The Lights i have no explination for other than perhaps it is a slightly slipping alternator belt for the battery light to be coming on intermittantly.. Try checking the tension on the belt. Other than that, it could be that your computer is playing up slightly?

Anyway I hope this helps a little.
Spud
 

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Your car will run better if you replace the cracked exhaust manifold. It seems to be a weak point on corollas. Both of mine cracked them eventually.
 

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I have noticed on some of my cars and lawn mowers that if the battery voltage gets below 11-1/2 volts, the starter solenoid won't pull in, although the lights, horn etc. work fine. When I have a starting problem I drag out the volt meter and measure battery. Also look at battery terminal connections and usually end up taking them off, cleaning them and re-installing them. I think every driver of modern autos should have a multimeter and scan code reader and know how to use and interpret them. Also a repair manual for the vehicle. That doesn't mean you have to know how to fix them, but you ought to be able to tell the service person what you have done and what the result was. Also, it might keep you from being overcharged. If you know the battery is bad, you shouldn't have to buy a starter or solenoid. All three of those things aren't going to fail at the same time and even two failing is unlikely.
I always took pride in doing my own maintenance and repairs in the old days when it was needed more. Modern autos for the most part are a lot more reliable, even though they may have some quirks that give diagnostic problems due to the sophisticated anti-pollution, automatic brake systems, engine and transmission controls, etc. As an example, I counted about 150 wires leaving the engine control module on my Silverado Diesel engine wiring diagram. No wonder mechanics have trouble getting them fixed. The worst problem is finding the problem that appears after the vehicle leaves home but disappears when it gets into the Dealership garage. It is a real problem but only intermittently. Hope this helps someone.
 
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