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Old 07-07-2012, 08:07 PM   #1
jasonbmerrill
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Default 1999 Saturn SW2 wagon (manual)... starter problem? Need to make a decision quick

....already made one potentially bad decision... bought a starter on the advice of an auto parts store.

let me explain.

the past few days it has seemed that starting the car felt like the battery was low - the starter seemed to laboriously start the car.

I ignored it, thinking i kept leaving something on. I made sure to have everything off, but on friday, I could not start the car at all. Thankfully, I was on a hill, and was able to pop start the car.

I would stop every so often and pop start it again, to see if the car had charged enough (as I thought the battery was the problem). It did not. I had to pop start it 2 other times.

Each time, the accessories came on without fail. It was only the engine that did not start.

I went to an auto parts store and they "tested" the battery. It showed that it was above spec, Holding a charge quite well.

Stupidly, I turned the car off at the auto parts store (absent minded), and it would not start again. It made one single click. This convinced the employee that it was not the alternator (as the accessories were working, and the car ran fine), it was not the battery (as the car wouldn't start at all or hold a charge), and had to be either the starter or the solenoid (which is attached to the starter, of course).

he sold me a starter at 116 dollars, and I had my car towed to my place of residence. Since it was the weekend, I could not go to a shop, and need my car... tomorrow. (sunday)

I had a gig that night (im a musician) and got a ride from a fellow bandmate.

today, I attempt to fix the car.

I put the car in neutral to push the car into a better position and for the heck of it I turn the key.

it started fine. Turned it off.

I finally found the starter and realized one of the bolts was a real tough reach, needed an extension. I was able to drive the car to the auto parts store, and then to walmart, where i parked on a hill and shut the car off, just in case.

no need to pop start later, worked fine.

So now I am puzzled. Again, I am no mechanic, but is it possible, if the starter has 12 teeth or something on it, could it be that I just hit a bad tooth? Or even worse, but even rarer, did I hit a bad tooth on the flywheel?

anyway, I am wondering if the starter was really the problem, and I'm afraid to install this one if it isnt the problem. They might, after all, take it back for a refund.

Any help or questions to get help I would truly appreciate.

thank you so much.

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Old 07-07-2012, 08:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SW2 wagon (manual)... starter problem? Need to make a decision quick

I think it is actually the copper brushes inside the starter that get worn. I had an identical situation in a Honda I used to have. Sometimes would start perfectly, other times, nothing.

When it would not start, I could rock the car and taht moved the starter enough that it would then start. Others suggest tapping the starter lightly with a piece of wood. Next time it fails to start, try tapping it and see if that makes it start - if so, replace the starter.

$116 seems high to me, but I have not priced starters lately. Last one I purchased, I got used about 3 or 4 years ago; think it was $25 at the junkyard.

You can use a mirror to help locate that top bolt - getting that back in is a real bear. If you go to YouTube and look for videos by richpin06a, there is a video showing that (plus a bunch more)

One of the wiser members here, Low Saturn, suggests replacing that top bolt with a stud when you have the starter out. One from the manifold (pick one up at the junkyard) will work. It's easier to locate the hole in the starter onto the stud and then tighten the nut on it.

Unfortunately, i did not find out about this tip until after I had already replaced my starter

...
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Old 07-07-2012, 09:14 PM   #3
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SW2 wagon (manual)... starter problem? Need to make a decision quick

I paid $119 for a rebuilt Valeo from Bond Auto. Probably would have been less then half that price if I had had time to bring it to the local rebuilder, but Bond had it in stock. Dunno what the core charge was, I brought in one with me so I wouldn't have to worry about it.

While a dead/dying starter is annoying, look on the bright side...you could have bought an autotragic and wouldn't have the pop-start option

Someone needs to make the stud size of the exhaust manifold bolts common knowledge...replacing the starter bolts with studs & a nut makes the stupid freaking annoying 30min job take ~15min.

...
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Old 07-07-2012, 09:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SW2 wagon (manual)... starter problem? Need to make a decision quick

More than a very good chance that it is the starter that is bad. However I would not ignore the chance that the battery cables are correded under the plastic end covers and between the cables and the battery.

...
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Old 07-07-2012, 11:27 PM   #5
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SW2 wagon (manual)... starter problem? Need to make a decision quick

It's very possible to have the battery cables give only a barely-adequate connection to the battery at the terminals. That produces situations where there's enough amps for the accessories (20-30a) but not enough for the starter (200a).

Simple solution is to clean the terminals and make sure they're seated properly.

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Old 07-07-2012, 11:54 PM   #6
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Happy Re: 1999 Saturn SW2 wagon (manual)... starter problem? Need to make a decision quick

ok, great thoughts here. Going to see how long the refundable period is and test it out a bit.. maybe the battery cables weren't on quite good enough, or had corrosion.

will be parking on hills from now on, however.

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Old 07-08-2012, 12:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SW2 wagon (manual)... starter problem? Need to make a decision quick

I'm no expert, but I had the exact same problem and I was able to figure out it was the starter by bashing on it with a pipe a few times when I couldn't get it to start. I could do it from the top of the engine, being careful not to hit any wires. It would always start right up after that, must have had a dead spot, which is not uncommon cause it's happened to me with two different starters.

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Old 07-08-2012, 09:55 AM   #8
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SW2 wagon (manual)... starter problem? Need to make a decision quick

It is the starter. I just replaced the starter on my 1994 Sedan on Thursday. My sedan is a manual, and periodically over the past two weeks there was hesitation when I went to start the car up but it would always start... until Thursday when it just clicked and there was nothing. I put a new starter in and it fixed the problem.

The price on mine after tax and the core was a total of $123.49. The starter itself was $95.99 and was a Vision -DE.

The starter is the issue here, you will want to check the battery cables, and the fusible link (the cable that runs from the starter to the alternator) as well for any issues.

...
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:16 AM   #9
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SW2 wagon (manual)... starter problem? Need to make a decision quick

now that i think of it, the guy tested my battery WHILE the car wouldnt start and it was rating above spec....

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Old 07-11-2012, 09:30 PM   #10
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SW2 wagon (manual)... starter problem? Need to make a decision quick

ok, got that done,

now, I fear I may have messed something up.

I will make a new thread:

saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1895906#post1895906

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Old 07-24-2012, 12:46 AM   #11
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Default Re: 1999 Saturn SW2 wagon (manual)... starter problem? Need to make a decision quick

the problem WAS the starter. thanks guys.

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