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Discussion Starter #1
Short version: Positive battery terminal had a ton of corrosion (blue foam). I washed it away with water and baking soda, then reconnected the battery. Now the car won't start. Putting the key in and starting to turn it leads to everything acting normally. Power, lights, warning chimes, etc. When I turn the key to start it, I get a rapid fire clicking and the instrument panel gauges start twitching.

My guess is that the terminal was so corroded that it's not making a good connection now that I've broken the one that was there. It also feels like there's a good amount of metal missing from the interior of the clamp, so I suspect I may need to replace the entire terminal or cable. Does this sound accurate?

My fear is that when I washed off the post/terminal with water and baking soda, water poured down into something it shouldn't have, causing a short elsewhere.
 

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By what you said, I highly doubt there are any shorts. It simply sounds like your battery is low on charge; this would cause the clicking and everything to go dim when trying to start. If it were a bad connection, everything would more likely just go blank when you try to start the car. Have you tried charging or boosting your battery yet?
 

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My dads 05' focus had intermittent starting last year. It was improperly diagnosed as an alternator by our local ford garage. Issues continued and they left it testing overnight etc at the shop. Finally ford corporate suggested battery cables, that was it. Replaced and never an issue again.

They were not corroded (at the terminal at least) but I suspect they were corroded under the sheathing and not letting enough voltage through.

Charge the battery (slow 2 A) and check/test those cables!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Haven't tried anything with the battery yet. When I say twitching, I don't mean getting dim. I mean the needles on the gauges moving. For example. when first starting the car a gauge may go to max, then back to its actual reading. Now it just twitches as if it's starting to go up, then back down. As if it's getting and losing power for a split second.
 

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the clicking sound is most likely the starter motor trying to turn, but not getting enough voltage. Do you have a digital multimeter?
 

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i know what you mean about the gauges though, mine does that the first time i start it after taking off the cables. They will "reset" themselves back to normal. Like when you do the gauge test with the odometer button.
 

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if you dont have a multimeter, check the battery voltage by holding down the odometer button, it will bring you into a test mode. Cycle through the options until it brings you to "volts" and check what its saying. Should be at least 12v with the key on motor off.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I do have a multimeter. I'll check the voltage when I get home. For what it's worth, one time I neglected to fully tighten the battery cable (actually the smaller cable that runs off the main wire) and ended up with this sound. The current sound is very similar, but slightly slower and more irregular. Instead of a steady pulse it's more like morse code with varying rhythm.
 

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yep, i'd say that's the starter turning. don't try and turn it too many times in a row without letting it cool down though. so.. yeah, make sure the clamps are tight and not worked loose, check the voltage across the terminals, and possibly if you have time take it in to a part store for a free battery test. You're sure the cables are not broken or anything? I know on mine the factory length does not have much slack in them, very tight.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I don't believe the cables are broken. There's practically no slack in the positive cable, but nothing makes me think they're broken. There was a ton of corrosion, so that could have worked its way into the cable itself.

Also, now that I think about it, I was out of town over the weekend. The car sat for five days before I did this, so it could be battery-related. I'll try jumping it during lunch and see if that makes a difference.

Battery is at least two years old, could be up to five. I really don't remember.
 

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yes, that sounds like a situation where the battery could have run down. It did start this morning and you were able to drive it to work though? and now it wont start?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It did not start this morning, which is the first time I tried to start it since Friday. My girlfriend and I work at the same place so we drive together. We also live close by, so I'll try jumping it during lunch to see if that makes a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Looks like it's the battery. Couldn't jump during lunch (girlfriend's battery terminals are practically impossible to get to), but multimeter gave me between 9.9 - 10.0 V. Will get a new battery after work.
 

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Two in one day, I posted to another member that ended up with the same problem (battery/terminal) just a short time before you found your problem & posted it!

http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=487289

Luck gettin' 'er going again, battery def. sounds bad from your comments (it'll get tested when you take it in for replacement).

Luck!
 
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