Q: Car won't start, makes single "clunk" noise when key is turned.

asked by on July 20, 2016

Car died while driving on hwy, pulled over, car would make scraping noise when key was turned. Tried push-starting but it wouldn't start. When draining oil it came out clear amber, then at the end, murky brown. Spark plug in cyl #4 was wet w murky brown oil and coolant in reservoir is low. Lights work, battery is charged. No check engine codes, I am able to crank engine by hand and the timing belt is on correctly. After checking all this, car now makes a single "clunk" when key is turned, removed starter and had it tested, the gear popped out and spun, but i was told it was supposed to go in and out repeatedly.

wet cylinder: http://i.imgur.com/ScG8BeW.jpg

oil: http://i.imgur.com/BhgRs5c.jpg http://i.imgur.com/mDnWsXi.jpg

flywheel teeth: http://i.imgur.com/GPb3R40.jpg

My car has 180000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

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It looks like the engine oil was contaminated with coolant and since the number 4 cylinder has a problem then you most likely blew a head gasket by that cylinder. The starter may also be bad if you cranked it too long or overloaded it.

I suggest getting your car looked at by a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, to diagnose your starting issue and the other symptoms you’ve described. They will be able to help you make the necessary repairs once the issue has been pinpointed.

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