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Old 11-28-2007, 01:23 PM   #1
Sparky131
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Default Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

Hi all, I am looking for the answer to a tough one:

Starter works fine on the bench, but not where it should. Battery shows no significant voltage drop when the starter is energized, the solenoid pulls in positively, but no crank. Cables removed, inspected, cleaned (almost no corrosion) tested <1 Ohm resistance.

I jumped directly from the battery positive to the coil terminal on the starter to isolate any other potential problems with the security system, neutral start switch, ign. switch, and associated wiring.

I looked at two reman. starters listed for the DOHC 1.9 and the terminals on the one I left behind were reversed from the one on the car, so I assumed the other to be the right choice.

I can rotate the engine, and it feels OK. There appears not to be any provision for shimming the starter as was the case on some old American iron. Can't identify any mechanical issues.

The only thing I can come up with is a reman. starter that spins, but fails under load. Any other clues out there?

I've been following the Saturn Fans forums for some time, and wish to thank those individuals who contribute so much to those of us in need. There is no way to express how vital this information is. My granddaughter is struggling to get through college on her own, and more than once this forum has helped grandpa get 'er goin' again without the great expense of a shop repair.

Thanks,
Sparky131

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Old 11-28-2007, 02:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

can you describe how you bench tested the starter?

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Old 11-28-2007, 02:48 PM   #3
MickSaturn
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Default Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

No one is biting so far so I guess I'll throw out a WAG.

Besides the cable to the battery, did you check any of the other wiring that hooks to the starter/solenoid? I recently had an issue when I was installing a starter that I saw that two small wires to the unit had fried probably when the prior starter had died and someone kept trying to start it and was spinning the starter...maybe the wires were grounds or something. Anyway, I spliced them back up and then it started right up. I don't remember whether I got nothing or just a click when I first tried to start it. Anyway, at least that fixed my no-start/good starter problem.

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Old 11-28-2007, 02:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

I jumpered the coil connection on the starter to the + battery feed terminal. I then connected the + battery post on the starter to the battery +. I connected the - terminal of the battery to the case of the starter. It runs this way but imposes no load on the starter.

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Old 11-28-2007, 02:57 PM   #5
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Default Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

Remove the wires at the starter that should have voltage. I think there's a small wire to the solinoid and a fat wire to the starter motor, which bridges on its terminal to another wire that goes to the alternator. Be careful that you don't ground the hot wire from the battery. (Might want to disconnect the battery, untill you're ready to test.)

Be sure you've got voltage on both wires (the fat one from the battery and the thin one) when the key is in the start position (you'll need a helper). If so, I'd replace the starter.

(You mentioned that there's no significant voltage drop under load, so I'm assuming your battery is strong enough to pull the starter under load.)

Last edited by saturnhouse; 11-28-2007 at 03:04 PM..

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Old 11-28-2007, 03:01 PM   #6
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Default Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

Quote:
Originally Posted by MickSaturn View Post
No one is biting so far so I guess I'll throw out a WAG.

Besides the cable to the battery, did you check any of the other wiring that hooks to the starter/solenoid? I recently had an issue when I was installing a starter that I saw that two small wires to the unit had fried probably when the prior starter had died and someone kept trying to start it and was spinning the starter...maybe the wires were grounds or something. Anyway, I spliced them back up and then it started right up. I don't remember whether I got nothing or just a click when I first tried to start it. Anyway, at least that fixed my no-start/good starter problem.
Good point...I did isolate all other wiring by connecting 12+ directly from the battery to the coil connection on the starter. This bypasses all other wiring in the starter circuit. I also verified the ground quality from the case of the mounted starter to the negative terminal of the battery.

Thanks for the help.

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Old 11-28-2007, 03:09 PM   #7
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Default Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

Quote:
Originally Posted by saturnhouse View Post
Remove the wires at the starter that should have voltage. I think there's a small wire to the solinoid and a fat wire to the starter motor, which bridges on its terminal to another wire that goes to the alternator. Be careful that you don't ground the hot wire from the battery. (Might want to disconnect the battery, untill you're ready to test.)

Be sure you've got voltage on both wires (the fat one from the battery and the thin one) when the key is in the start position (you'll need a helper). If so, I'd replace the starter.
Thanks Saturnhouse, to clarify, this is a replacement starter. The original exhibited similar behavior, although the solenoid "chattered" like the voltage was low. The solenoid on the new on pulls in positively, but doesn't crank the engine.

I have full voltage at the starter (static 12.54 Volts) Both on the battery + to the armature, and the coil connection on the solenoid.

Thanks for the idea.

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Old 11-28-2007, 03:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

could be that the starter is in good enough shape to spin, but can't handle a load anymore.

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Old 11-28-2007, 03:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

How old is the replacement starter? What you can't test for is a worn out set of starter brushes on a bench. Since worn down brushes can still power a starter motor as long as there isn't a flywheel attached to an engine requiring torque, or load, the starter can be deceiving as it spins on the bench. Once a load is placed on worn brushes the current demand must be conducted through those brushes but because they're worn down there isn't any more spring pressure to maintain physical contact to the armature that actually is the rotating part of the starter. The light contact between brushes and armature prevents the 50-150 amps from powering the starter but instead wimps out under the load of turning the engine over. If you're old school, you can disassemble the starter to view the extent of brush wear otherwise the years/mileage on a starter may be the only hint of a worn out starter. If its new take it back for testing from the place you bought it from.

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Old 11-28-2007, 03:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
How old is the replacement starter? What you can't test for is a worn out set of starter brushes on a bench. Since worn down brushes can still power a starter motor as long as there isn't a flywheel attached to an engine requiring torque, or load, the starter can be deceiving as it spins on the bench. Once a load is placed on worn brushes the current demand must be conducted through those brushes but because they're worn down there isn't any more spring pressure to maintain physical contact to the armature that actually is the rotating part of the starter. The light contact between brushes and armature prevents the 50-150 amps from powering the starter but instead wimps out under the load of turning the engine over. If you're old school, you can disassemble the starter to view the extent of brush wear otherwise the years/mileage on a starter may be the only hint of a worn out starter. If its new take it back for testing from the place you bought it from.
I think you have the answer. It is a new reman. unit, and I will return it. Hopefully, they can load test it, and confirm it is a dud. It is a USA Industries for those who might wish to avoid this irritation.

thanks, I'll update with the hope of progress.

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Old 11-28-2007, 06:09 PM   #11
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Default Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

It seems like there are 3 possibilities...

1. The replacement starter is bad (Far from impossible, I once got a bad rebuilt starter.)

2. Battery is bad (I know you checked the voltage drop, but you might also want to take it somewhere to have it properly load tested)

3. Engine is offerning too much resistance to the starter. (You checked that the engine turns, and I think this last possibility is remote. If the engine was somehow too tight for a good starter, with good current, to turn - I think something would start smoking.)

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Old 11-28-2007, 08:41 PM   #12
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Default Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

Quote:
Originally Posted by saturnhouse View Post
It seems like there are 3 possibilities...

1. The replacement starter is bad (Far from impossible, I once got a bad rebuilt starter.)

2. Battery is bad (I know you checked the voltage drop, but you might also want to take it somewhere to have it properly load tested)

3. Engine is offerning too much resistance to the starter. (You checked that the engine turns, and I think this last possibility is remote. If the engine was somehow too tight for a good starter, with good current, to turn - I think something would start smoking.)
These are good observations...I subbed a good battery out of my truck just to know, and no change.

The starter doesn't even offer the slightest grunt, although the solenoid is snapping in smartly. So I don't think it's mechanical.

So I think your #1 is the answer. Tomorrow I will get a replacement for the starter and hope the troubleshooting contest sees it's conclusion.

Thanks again, I'll report tomorrow.

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Old 11-29-2007, 09:02 PM   #13
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Happy Re: Unique Starter Problem '97SC2

Problem solved! The next reman. starter did the trick. All is well. Thanks to all who contributed. I've had so much practice with this ordeal, that I feel totally qualified to teach a class on it. If anyone out there is against the wall with a similar situation, I would be glad to help if I can.

Long live the SaturnFans forum!

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