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Old 02-05-2009, 07:55 AM   #1
ob1
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Question Random no start issue

There has been a couple of times where my 95 SL2 would not start. After waiting a while, it would start right up. The battery and alternator are fine, and I only found a little corrosion on the negative battery cable terminal. I cleaned the corrosion and replaced the starter with a rebuilt Valeo from Pep Boys. It would not start, so I called Pep Boys and asked if he could test my old one. I've heard that is not uncommon for bad starters to pass , but he said that their tester would put the starter under more of a load than being on the car and would give accurate results. It passed so, I returned the rebuilt one and re-installed my old starter. My car has started fine several times. I can't figure out what the problem is/was. Any suggestions or advice? Thanks.

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Old 02-05-2009, 08:08 AM   #2
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1999 SL
Default Re: Random no start issue

In my opinion, and several others will chime in as well...you're taking a gamble with a rebuilt starter....especially from Pep Boys. Nothing against you; but the store that is near me; the few times I have been in there, the people working there are rude and unfriendly, and they never seemed to have what I need.

I've always had better luck at Autozone or Advance auto parts; but your mileage may vary.

I would ditch the rebuilt starter and get yourself a new one. I bought one off of Rockauto for my 97 SW2 that was an NSA starter; brand new and a perfect replica of the Valeo starter. I think it was just around $150? for it...don't recall at the moment.

Basically, when it comes to electrics in your car, it's better to install brand new OEM equipment rather than rebuilt, because you don't know how long it is going to last. In my own mechanical experience, I would only put a rebuilt starter in my cars if it was a last resort.

Starters are quirky and squirrley when they are rebuilt. Even if you bench test them if they are bad in the car, they work fine on the bench, and vice versa....

...
Bryan

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99 SL

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97SW2 266K Miles
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94SC1 340,501 Miles
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Old 02-05-2009, 08:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: Random no start issue

great timing!!

OP: your car stick or auto? mine did it first with clutch safety switch.

Anecdote: over the summer my 96 would only "click" like a dead bettery after i'd driven the car for a while, let it sit for a short time, then try to restart. it's almost as if the starter was heat soaked and the tolerances were off. if i parked it with the hood open it would start fine. if i kept it off for over 30 mins it was fine. mine's a stick, so just parked on hills and jumped it. that was only on the hottest days, now that it's cold, no problem.

Question: my wife's 00 just started the same thing. she calls me when it doesn't start.... clicks like dead battery. not cold start, only seems like after car has warmed up. overnite got down to 0*, started fine. she drove for 10 mins, stopped for gas, click. i had her turn key to "acc", move shifter thru the gears, and usually starts up. NSS? coincidence?

...
1996 sl - 2/08/09 221k miles, gave car away to friend.

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Old 02-05-2009, 08:55 AM   #4
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Default Re: Random no start issue

Since you're not afraid to pull starters off a car, you can try isolating this issue a little more to locate the problem. One way would be to test the ignition switch and the starting circuit for the dependable START signal every time you turn the key, to eliminate the possibility of a worn switch; pull the small START wire (purple?) off the small terminal on the starter solenoid and connect it to a 12v stop lamp, ground the tip of the bulb to the engine. Have someone turn the ignition key to the START position and the bulb should light up immediately. Since its not connected to the starter solenoid, the starter won't run. Turning the key several times from the ON/RUN position to the START position and back should always turn the lamp on every time. If there's any hint of this circuit being faulty it will be either the ignition switch or the START wire (the crimped terminal on the end). Look closely for signs of wire breakage at the end of the terminal. The only other place for circuit interruption would be the clutch or Park/Neutral safety switch (they serve the same purpose to prevent starting in specific situations). Having a consistent START signal eliminates the entire starting circuit. What remains are the main power and power connections; battery, battery cables, and their connections including the main ground connect.

Go over the battery, battery cables, and their connections to the starter and the main ground to be sure main power and connections are clean and free of all corrosion. Have the battery tested if its over 4yrs old. Be sure the serpentine belt drive system is keeping the belt taut otherwise the belt tensioner may be worn and allowing belt slippage. Belt slippage won't allow the alternator to output correctly resulting in poor battery charging. A poorly charged battery, corroded battery cables, faulty ignition switch, faulty clutch/Park/Neutral safety switch, and loosely connected wiring all mimic no-start problems. The trick is to know where to look for the problem while eliminating those that can cause it.

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Old 02-05-2009, 10:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: Random no start issue

Thanks for the replies.

I returned the rebuilt starter and re-installed the original. I would have prefered to go with a brand new one, but time and expense were a factor.

My car is an automatic.

fdryer- Thanks. I'll give your suggestions a try.

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Old 02-05-2009, 11:41 AM   #6
DonP
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Default Re: Random no start issue

Just checking - I presume by not start you mean when you try to start the car the engine does not even crank or give a click?

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Old 02-05-2009, 12:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: Random no start issue

There is a click, so I presume the solenoid is trying to engage the starter. The first time this happened someone tried to help me jump start the car. Nothing. After about 45 min, it started OK. I have driven it for several weeks without issue until a couple of days ago. A few hours later, it starts up fine. The battery is reading 12.5 volts and 14.5 with the car running. I don't think the battery or alternator are bad.

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Old 02-05-2009, 01:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: Random no start issue

What does battery voltage (at the battery terminal) do when you try to start and get the click?

The voltage at the starter terminal?

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Old 02-05-2009, 05:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: Random no start issue

I have not tried to read the voltage when it won't start. I did read the voltage at the starter terminal and it was 12.5.

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Old 02-05-2009, 07:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: Random no start issue

12.5 volts when NOT trying to start.

The only load on the battery at that time is the parasitic loads such as the clock, etc.

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Old 02-06-2009, 12:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: Random no start issue

I should measure the voltage while starting the car and battery is under a load?

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Old 02-06-2009, 12:44 PM   #12
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Default Re: Random no start issue

From what you've posted so far, this may be a battery cable issue or the starter (if its the original starter). Reading battery voltage while someone cranks over the engine can be done but then you'll have to know why the voltage drops and for what reason and if its an indication of a dying battery, etc.. No real need for that as having Autozone or some place similar can do this with their equipment; they want you to buy a battery from them so they provide FREE battery testing that is very good and easier than you or I figuring out why the voltage drop (too much current sucking the battery down/a cell dying and showing as voltage lower than 10v). Seeing 12.5v doesn't tell you if the battery has the capacity to retain a charge for the extreme amount of current needed during a start. Welding current. If you don't understand batteries and how they're tested, simply go to Autozone for their free test.

The battery cables are your responsibility so removing them and examining them closely for severe corrosion (that eats the copper wires) will not allow welding current to flow to the starter motor. If in doubt, replace the cables.

As posted before; Go over the battery, battery cables, and their connections to the starter and the main ground to be sure main power and connections are clean and free of all corrosion. Have the battery tested if its over 4yrs old. Be sure the serpentine belt drive system is keeping the belt taut otherwise the belt tensioner may be worn and allowing belt slippage. Belt slippage won't allow the alternator to output correctly resulting in poor battery charging. A poorly charged battery, corroded battery cables, faulty ignition switch, faulty clutch/Park/Neutral safety switch, and loosely connected wiring all mimic no-start problems. The trick is to know where to look for the problem while eliminating those that can cause it.

Last edited by fdryer; 02-06-2009 at 12:50 PM..

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Old 02-06-2009, 04:24 PM   #13
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Default Re: Random no start issue

High voltage drop at the battery, even when just a click in response tot he start command, can indicate that that battery is suspect. A tast by the parts store does the same thing.

Watching the voltage at the starter terminals can indicate if there is a significant problem, as shown by a voltage drop profile that does not match that observed at the battery, among the cables/connections.

Intermittent problems are the generally the most difficult to find.

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Old 02-06-2009, 06:14 PM   #14
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Default Re: Random no start issue

One reason I did not suspect the battery was because the first time I had this issue, jumping it did not help. If my battery was going bad wouldn't being connected to another good battery enable my car to start?

I measured the voltage while starting the car, and it drops to just under 11 volts. I may take it and have it tested.

The cables look fine. I cleaned the little corrosion I found on the negative terminal.

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Old 02-06-2009, 07:30 PM   #15
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Default Re: Random no start issue

The terminal voltage as measured at the battery when the starter is cranking will drop. A decent value is between 11 and 10 volts. For the technically curious and the doubting thomases, go look up the maximum power transfer theorem, or just start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximum_power_theorem

To make a load voltage measurement you should actually make your connection at the positive starter stud for the motor and the negative at the battery ground stud on the engine. Intermittent starter motor operation with a corresponding solenoid operation is usually traced to dirty/burned starter motor contacts in the solenoid. Some of the older solenoids will come apart and can be user repaired but the new ones are a run to fail part. they are held together with a roll crimp.

When you connect a meter across the battery by connecting to the connector mounting bolts you are actually seeing the voltage drop across the internal resistance of the battery and not the external circuit.

The beginning of the dirty/burned solenoid failure can be quite random. One minor way to test for it from the comfort of the drivers seat is to repeatedly cycle the key to crank. If after 3 or 4 cycles it energizes the motor and the car starts then drive to the place you have selected and buy a starter, do not shut the car off. If you look at he starting motor diagram you will see 2 coils in the solenoid. The hold in coil will hold the solenoid pulled in as long as power is applied and the pull in coil assists in this initial closing action by applying 12v to the starter motor through the coil. This will cause the starter motor to rotate slowly so as to allow the teeth to align properly to obtain engagement with the flywheel. The main contacts will not close until the pinion is engaged, nor will the motor run except very slowly. The click you hear when turning the key to crank is the solenoid armature hitting the full in stop. That tells you both solenoid coils are good. When the main contacts close the pull in coil is shorted out and deenergized.

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Old 02-07-2009, 06:14 AM   #16
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Default Re: Random no start issue

I took the battery to Autozone and it checked good. However when I went to put it back in I had a hard time connecting the negative cable. I should have noticed how damaged the threads were when I cleaned off the corrosion. I replaced the bolt on the cable. Could my problem be this simple? A bad connection at the negative side causing poor ground?

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Old 02-07-2009, 08:56 AM   #17
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Default Re: Random no start issue

It could be. Those connections are not fool proof and are very prone to become fouled up.

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Old 02-07-2009, 09:00 AM   #18
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Default Re: Random no start issue

Quote:
As posted before; Go over the battery, battery cables, and their connections to the starter and the main ground to be sure main power and connections are clean and free of all corrosion.
Yes, its that simple. Starters require welding current, anywhere from 50-150amps+ and guess how its getting all this juice from? The only two things preventing a starter from powering up (that DEMANDS the heavy gauge wiring) are the two battery cables. Not paying attention to the simplest things and skipping over them usually results is chasing your tail speculating and second guessing on all the wrongs things when its right in front of you. As they say, "been there, done that".

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Old 02-12-2009, 10:56 AM   #19
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Default Re: Random no start issue

My daughter had a random no start problem with her 2001 SC2 recently. Like others have posted I would turn the car to start and I would hear one click and nothing. If I left the car for a couple hours and came back it would start. One time I started it five times straight while parked in my driveway and then the sixth time it would not start. I took it to my mechanic and he found the starter needed replaced. I hope this is helpful to others with a random start issue.

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Old 02-12-2009, 11:03 AM   #20
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Default Re: Random no start issue

If it clicks and does not crank it is a starter problem or a battery, battery cable problem. Eliminate the battery/battery cable as the problem and then its the starter.

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