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Old 12-27-2009, 09:33 PM   #1
hydromech
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Default Starter won’t crank the engine

My starter won’t crank the engine again – single loud clunk and no crank. Headlights ON and not dimming…

Yesterday I got this problem but after 5 attempts I was able to crank and start the car... After test drive I killed it and started again - OK… Today – no way…

I run a wire from Battery+ to starter solenoid (purple) wire… Same thing: single loud clunk, arching and NO cranking - dead…

I pulled the starter and took it to NAPA for testing. The starter is spinning at their bench !!! The also tested my battery – OK..

Please help. What else should I check ???

Maybe it is my starter (intermittent) ?

...
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Old 12-27-2009, 10:07 PM   #2
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

have you check the stater/postive cable running from the battery to the starter?

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Old 12-27-2009, 10:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

I did ckeck voltage on that "always hot" terminal. It was 12 Vdc...

...
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Old 12-27-2009, 10:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

i meant did you physical check the battery cables condition and make sure the grounds are good and tight.

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Old 12-27-2009, 10:33 PM   #5
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

The starter has different sections for starting a vehicle, meaning that very often it is intermittent. Next time your car won't start, if it's a manual, put it in fourth, try to push it, then try to start it. If this method ever works, it's the starter.

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Old 12-27-2009, 10:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

At starter end I visually inspected the terminals - look OK and I checked voltage at "always hot" starter terminal - OK too... No visible damage to thick cables...

How do I check for good ground ?

Should I use ohm-meter ?

Do you think my problem is wiring ? not starter itself ?

...
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Old 12-27-2009, 10:50 PM   #7
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

Um, you can't check for any good ground for the starter, its already grounded - the starter's body is ground and the physical mounting of the starter to the engine grounds the starter properly. Checking for 12v at the starter terminal, putting 12v on the small terminal and seeing/hearing a loud click despite bench testing and seeing the starter spinning in place is all the information you need. Replace the starter. Isn't this the original one in the car? If its is and its been used for 140k miles, its done its job and needs a rebuild or replacement.

Bench testing without loading the starter (with a flywheel/engine set-up to reproduce similar loads) doesn't mean squat. Bang the starter with a piece of 2x4 against the body once or twice and see if the starter comes to life; either it will run or not. You're looking at a worn out starter.

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Old 12-27-2009, 10:56 PM   #8
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

Thanks a lot, fdryer !

Something tells me that my 10 year old strarter is bad... The only thing is why it TURNS at the bench ?

Maybe it is because that is "no-load test" ???

Yesterday I did start my Saturn (after 5 atempts)

...
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Old 12-27-2009, 11:02 PM   #9
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

You only have to experience this once to remember it later with other cars as you'll see the same issue time and time again. Worn out starters don't announce themselves.

...
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Old 12-27-2009, 11:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

Yea... I simply could not just put that old starter back after they tested it OK at NAPA... Sorry I didn't buy a new one... will have to walk there tomorrow

I suspected that bench test is not 100% proof... Thanks again for confurming that, fdryer

...
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Old 12-27-2009, 11:24 PM   #11
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

Watch this video,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjZ1VqThlq0
The guy is a bit of a character but he is a decent mechanic. He explains exactly what your problem is and why it happens.
He has some very good DIY videos, if you can get around some of his other stuff.

...
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Old 12-27-2009, 11:44 PM   #12
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

mattelderca, any idea - how you call those copper things ? Is it possible to buy similar for Saturn SL1 starter ?

...
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Old 12-28-2009, 12:14 AM   #13
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

Yes, you can buy them, most likely at your local rebuilders shop. I made them once for a Toyota I had. Made them from flattened copper pipe!
BUT, if one component has failed another is close behind! Buy a good rebuilt or new starter. You don't want to be stuck somewhere do you?

...
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Old 12-28-2009, 05:55 PM   #14
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

The problem was as simple as bad battery - it would not hold the charge...

The starter was OK - as tested by NAPA and AutoZone...

I just installed a brand new battery and put the old starter back... Car started no prob...

I'd like to share my bad troubleshooting experience to help other Saturn owners to avoid my mistake...

...
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Old 12-28-2009, 06:55 PM   #15
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by hydromech View Post
... The starter is spinning at their bench !!! They also tested my battery – OK....
So, it looks like NAPA goofed from the beginning....................

...
*The CPS is the heart of the entire EFI system. No cps = dead EFI system*
*There's more to a/c than just a few cans of refrigerant*
*There's more to brakes than just replacing parts*

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Old 12-28-2009, 07:32 PM   #16
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattelderca View Post
Buy a good new starter.
Fixed. Do NOT EVER EVER EVER EVER buy a rebuilt starter, UNLESS you plan on rebuilding your current starter to last long enough till you get a NEW one. Same goes for alternators.

Either way, glad to hear you got everything going again, and just another reason to go from cheapest to most expensive repairs..

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Old 12-28-2009, 08:11 PM   #17
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

What a crappy test. At Kragen at least they put a load on the starter. I wonder what the value of them using up precious time in life putting power on a starter that doesn't have a load on it is.

-Robert


Quote:
Originally Posted by hydromech View Post
Yea... I simply could not just put that old starter back after they tested it OK at NAPA... Sorry I didn't buy a new one... will have to walk there tomorrow

I suspected that bench test is not 100% proof... Thanks again for confurming that, fdryer

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Old 12-28-2009, 08:18 PM   #18
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

It's not only the starter. Like the OP, I had a battery test twice as good that eventually turned out to be bad.

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Old 12-29-2009, 09:10 AM   #19
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by adventureoflink View Post
Fixed. Do NOT EVER EVER EVER EVER buy a rebuilt starter, UNLESS you plan on rebuilding your current starter to last long enough till you get a NEW one. Same goes for alternators.

Either way, glad to hear you got everything going again, and just another reason to go from cheapest to most expensive repairs..
We have several local shops that rebuild starters, alternators, etc. etc., and I can guarantee the quality is better than new! Don't make blanket statements without KNOWING exactly what you are talking about! Experience is a lovely thing, I'd buy a rebuilt starter from these shops before I'd shell out for a new unit of unknown quality. How many rebuilt units have you bought? I've bought literally hundreds and NEVER had one fail. Read my original post on it, it says buy a GOOD rebuilt unit. I am sure there are many local rebuilders in your area as well, go to their shop and have a look around. Look at the components they use and how they serve their customers, then judge if you want to deal with them or not. But don't slam things in general, it does no one any good and adds nothing to the knowledge base.

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Old 12-29-2009, 10:00 AM   #20
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Default Re: Starter won’t crank the engine

mattelderca, please advise WHAT brands/stors are better to get decent quality auto parts (rebuild/replacement)

I recently got just bad experiences with PepBoys and AdvanceAuto...

You have experience, please help

...
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