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Old 02-22-2018, 07:16 AM   #1
MikeHarrison
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2007 ION-2 Sedan
Default Sometimes: *sounds like* starter spinning but solenoid doesn't engage

I was counter man in an auto parts store and worked in several gas stations during the early 70s, so I don't know if what I learned then is still true today. But it sometimes sounds as though, when turning the key, that the starter motor on my '07 Ion 2 (2.2 engine w/manual trans) spins but the solenoid doesn't engage immediately. Again, sometimes.

Is that possible, is it fairly common and is it a sign I need to have this looked at ASAP before I'm stranded somewhere?

Many thanks!

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Old 02-22-2018, 10:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: Sometimes: *sounds like* starter spinning but solenoid doesn't engage

I, too, was a mechanic - learning it on the job - and a counterman at my father's service station from the mid '70's and into the 80's. Your memory of a partially failing starter is correct even in this decade. Of course, any time a bad starter suspected the battery must first be tested to verify its condition.

Now, is this a common issue for starters on ECOTEC 2.2L engines? Judging from my experience here at SaturnFans, my answer is that it's not. Your issue is the first I've seen like this since I joined SaturnFans. FWIW, the starter on my car is the factory original (as is the alternator). I believe you'll need to pull your starter and have it tested...just my "two cents worth." Please keep us updated!

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Old 02-22-2018, 01:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: Sometimes: *sounds like* starter spinning but solenoid doesn't engage

Sometimes, just sometimes, starters fail in an unusual way. If this description fits, replace the starter ASAP.

Every car starter uses the equivalent of an electrically operated mechanical clutch to turn over engines. The starter solenoid does a two step operation, (1)power up a large electromagnet to pull on a rod connected to linkages to engage a starter gear with a one way clutch and (2) close a large set of contacts to send battery power to the starter motor. The one way clutch on the starter gear assembly allows starter motor to turn the gear to crank the engine and allows the clutch to release the gear and over run if the starter is still engaged when the engine fires up. The one way clutch is also described as an over running clutch as it allows the engine to run while the gear freely spins at higher speed than the starter motor. Sometimes this over running clutch fails with a distinctive characteristic - the starter doesn't crank the engine with the usual whirr whirr whirr sound but spins up immediately, sounding like a jet engine whine. The damaged one way clutch won't turn over the engine with the starter motor running away (jet engine whine). Starter failures like this are rare and erratic - they work then randomly don't with the jet engine sounds. The one way gear is damaged.

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Old 02-22-2018, 02:06 PM   #4
MikeHarrison
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Default Re: Sometimes: *sounds like* starter spinning but solenoid doesn't engage

Thank you, both, for that great info and detail. I will have the starter replaced. On another note, I'm also smelling gasoline immediately after getting out of the car, but it doesn't seem to be coming from under the hood: I opened the hood and sniffed around but could smell no gas there. So I'll have that investigated, too.

Also, I didn't mean to give the wrong impression: while I worked at several gas stations, I was not a mechanic, but more of a "service technician" (I did oil changes & other basic stuff). I grasp mechanical theory very well, but didn't want to mislead anyone.

Thanks again.

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