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fujioko 01-18-2009 10:19 AM

Starter is unhappy with the cold
Just the other day I was bragging on how my Autozone starter in my 96SW1 has lasted over 120,000 miles.

Anyway the weather has been very cold here in Michigan… and wouldn’t you know it the starter has been acting up.

[B]To begin with, the battery is brand new and fully charged.
Here is the scenario… jump in the car, rotate the key to start… “CLICK” . Try again “CLICK”…

If the cold is effecting the starter, Specifically the solenoid, then it is reasonable to expect the starter to work when it is warm. So…….

I tried this.

Rotate the key to start “CLICK”.. then continue hold the key in that position. Seemingly nothing is happing, however to the contrary the solenoid is energized and producing heat.

I hold the key in the start position for 30 seconds. Then 10 seconds off… Then repeat the 30 second hold. I do this several times.

I speculate the solenoid is getting warmer. Eventually the heat penetrates whatever is getting stuck.

Within four minuets I have generated enough heat in the solenoid and the magical sound of a completed circuit. RrrrrrrrRrrrrrrrRrrrrrrrRrrrrrr Vrooommmm!

At this point I should say I realize a hammer against the solenoid will have the same effect…. I ain’t getting under the car with all this snow.

Once the car is running and everything warms up then the starter works as expected.

Ahhh.. so the starter is pretty much [B]%$#@^&.[/B]

The purpose to this post is to offer a possible solution if your stuck somewhere. [B]If your absolutely positive the battery is fully charged then this might get you out of a bad situation.[/B] HOWEVER If your battery is low then you will damage the starter. I=E/R

Anyway I have a 2nd Saturn for situations like this.

OldNuc 01-18-2009 10:34 AM

Re: Starter is unhappy with the cold
You are correct. The heat is expanding the contact plate till it makes contact. If the AZ starter is the old style where you can take the solenoid apart and clean it that will also fix it. Or you can collect on the lifetime warranty if it has one and you can convince the idiot behind the counter that it does not work when cold. He will just tell you that it is your battery.... This is why I usually do not buy any electrical part from those stores.

fujioko 01-18-2009 10:49 AM

Re: Starter is unhappy with the cold
The SW1 has been tasked with the unreasonable expectation that it will continue to run past the 300K mile mark.

With this in mind I’ll buy a proper starter. However, I’ll first look into repairing the current starter.

Thanks OldNuke.

OldNuc 01-18-2009 11:35 AM

Re: Starter is unhappy with the cold
If it is the one that comes apart its fixable. If not then i know where to find new ones for 70.00 and they do work. They have a 2 year warranty.

fdryer 01-18-2009 11:53 AM

Re: Starter is unhappy with the cold
Do you really expect any starter to last, as you put it, over 120,000 miles? In the words of Houdini, "Get Real!" OK, maybe he didn't say it but be a little more realistic. There are no mileage warranties on starters and you're basing your criticism against what? The original? If you did, then you expected another brands starter to hold up to a Saturn original? If that's so, then why didn't you buy another Saturn starter? Too pricey maybe? Aside from the ridiculous mark-up some unscrupulous dealers charge, you're most likely getting the OEM quality that's expected. Well, along with the quality comes reliability and with that probably another long life to this one as came with the original. If you were to buy a new OEM Saturn starter for a reasonable price you and I most likely will get another quality starter. You may be too critical comparing a rebuilt one against the original. A rebuilt is just a rebuilt with any quality you want to attach to it, best one around or junk.

If you didn't buy a NEW starter but went with a standard rebuilt/remanufactured unit, which in some cases are equal to new ones according to whoever decides to maintain minimum standards for rebuilding tolerances, any starter will have so much life based on the parts used. Those parts are the brushes, the armature's commutator that the brushes wear against, the two bearings, the starter solenoid, the one-way bearing, and the extra large contacts that serve to switch the power to the starter motor. All those parts are wear related and there's plenty of room for quality (or lack) of parts to control/decide on the long term reliability of any starter. Use a low quality replacement set of starter brushes and the brushes may simply burn through in a relatively short time. Unless you are capable of tearing apart a starter, you'll never really know what wore down on your Autozone starter, just as you probably don't know what wore down the original starter. Please don't take offense as I just so happen to know firsthand as well as many others. I've taken starters apart, not only to understand them but to learn a little about their weaknesses and strengths. I've saved a little money by repairing one starter (was selling a mini-van) because one of the large starter solenoid contacts burned through after 150,00 miles and only needed another contact. Made one from scratch using material from large electrical panel conductors. Serendipity and a little imagination. The entire starter was good for another 150,000 miles because of Toyota quality parts as shown by very little wear in the parts mentioned above. I've never taken a rebuilt starter apart but I doubt quality parts are used to equal the long reliability of OEM ones. "Its just business, nothing personal", as we're buying starters at much less cost than OEM quality and there's much less quality in rebuilts - you get what you pay for. :cool:

You may be surprised, or not, when you tear apart your current worn out one.

fujioko 01-18-2009 01:37 PM

Re: Starter is unhappy with the cold
I don’t think I was really bad mouthing the AZ starter…. was I?. Given the weather and the age of the starter, yes it is unrealistic to expect it to work forever.

Anyway, I have unrealistic expatiations toward my SW1… I totally admit it. Mostly because it has been the best car I ever owned. Better than any of my BMW’s (reliability).

The SW1 will live forever!. ( I might have to fix it every once in a while)

fdryer 01-18-2009 02:23 PM

Re: Starter is unhappy with the cold
I will say this, you have far better talent in prolonging the life of a car than I do. I must have the [B]un[/B]Midas touch...possibly picking short lived cars. I've already steeled myself for the possible oil and coolant leak, impossible-to-get-to thermostat, and timing belt replacement for my L300. Maybe its the price of having two more cylinders? :whoa:

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