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Old 09-11-2017, 12:50 PM   #1
dbiando
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1999 SL1
Default 99 L won't crank, can't hear a click

Hi All,
I'm confused about a starting problem and need some advice. Twice in the last several weeks the engine would not crank. Lights OK, no click noise. Just won't crank. Both times the car started in garage, warmed up for a minute or two then drove about a half mile to shopping center. Parked car. Half hour later tried to start car. No crank, no click. Lights do not dim. First time car started after being left for several hours. Second time had to call AAA. No help. Car started right up by pushing very little bit and popping clutch. After first time checked clutch position switch. Cleaned and put a little WD40 in it. Both times temp outside upper 90's. Confusion is about click noise. No click indicates probable electrical issue, yes? Or can starter fail in this way? 99.9 percent of time car fires up immediately.

99 L
143K
Well maintained car

Thanks for any suggestions

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Old 09-11-2017, 01:17 PM   #2
fdryer
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 99 L won't crank, can't hear a click

1-If the starter is original and your car has over 100k miles, most likely a worn out starter. And yes, it can be a dead starter. To ensure its the starter, you can try one hail Mary test - bang the starter a few times with a piece of 2x4 lumber and it the starter runs, replace it. The best way to know a dead/worn out starter; disconnect the small purple wire on the starter solenoid and check for 12v when the ignition switch is held to the START position. As long as you see 12v on this START wire with ignition on START position, the starting circuit is fine and the starter is faulty.

2-To eliminate any power issue, be sure the battery is in good condition, both battery cables are clean and free of corrosion, connections to starter and main grounds (chassis and engine block) are secure, and drive belt is tight. Standby battery voltage should be around 12.5v, engine idling voltage (alternator) around 14.5v.

Although you posted your S-series car in the L-series forums, starting problems are more or less the same for all vehicles when troubleshooting a starter issue.

3-If this turns out to be a starter, you have the benefit of buying a good starter at very low cost, whether eBay or direct, from dbelectric.

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Old 09-12-2017, 06:24 PM   #3
dbiando
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1999 SL1
Default Re: 99 L won't crank, can't hear a click

Thank you so much for your reply and apologies for posting in the wrong forum. Old brain here. I've a question for you regarding checking starter voltage. If I am out and about and have this issue, I can check that the starter is getting voltage by hanging a meter across it and turning the key to start without having to disconnect the purple wire from the starter. I would disconnect it to verify the voltage is at the level it's supposed to be, but with it connected I would still be able to verify that the control circuit works. Is this not correct, or have I missed something about the purple wire.

Thanks!

and I would also have a whack-em stick with me to knock some sense into it.

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Old 09-12-2017, 08:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: 99 L won't crank, can't hear a click

Ahh, an old school man willing to wack a mole!? I did this just once years ago with perfect(?) results - no starter operation at all and simply concluded a dead starter. I can recall that day as it occurred on the same day when the entire North East suffered a blackout of major proportion - the electrical grid was lost the whole day as I suffered from heat and humidity bicycling to a store for a replacement starter....... The only time I whacked the starter a few times without testing the START wire for 12 volts. Small assumption on my part as I figured the wiring wasn't damaged but the starter was a good possibility. One other car I worked on did suffer wiring problems -the end terminal broke and didn't allow 12v to the starter solenoid. Simply rearranging the terminal allowed the starter to work again until I was able to crimp on a new spade lug. Starters and starting circuits are simple when some previous experience exposes the possibilities to learning things not taught in any school electrical class.

The best way to assess and separate a starter from starting circuit problem is clipping a positive meter probe to the small terminal on the starter solenoid, ground probe clipped to chassis ground. A make shift wire extension into the car from the starter terminal is one way so the meter probes stay inside the car. Just be sure this wire never touches any bare metal and is tape insulated to the meter positive probe. Be sure a good alligator clip or second nut is used to tie the wire extension onto the terminal. Running an extension wire anywhere in the floor board holes to the starter and inside where you can connect a meter probe will make it easy to verify either the starter failed or the starting circuit is faulty. Even a simple 12v test light will work in place of a multimeter.

Whenever the ignition switch is turned to the START position, 12v is sent to the starter solenoid purple wire to power the solenoid coil. The coil pulls the starter gear into position to engage the engine flywheel as the solenoid closes a set of heavy duty electrical contacts to allow battery power to run the starter motor.
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Old 09-13-2017, 01:10 AM   #5
dbiando
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1999 SL1
Default Re: 99 L won't crank, can't hear a click

Thank you for the picture and information. I'm setting up the test rig tomorrow on my 99, including the big stick. In a technical career that lasted over 40 years I've whacked things great and small in an effort to let them know it is a much better policy to work than to not work. Most, I'm happy to report, agreed.

DBiando

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