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Old 10-19-2004, 06:49 PM   #1
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Starter goes "click" but won't turn engine over- not a hot start problem

I think I have nailed this down as an electrical problem of some kind, but I figured I'd ask before I spend a lot of time trying to figure out something I KNOW others must have run into.

Car is a 92 that originally came with the 305 TBI motor. That engine with the stock starter had a problem- sometimes it would just go "click" when the key was turned (sounds like the bendix clicking in, but no motor turning). Intermittent. Hot cold, didn't matter. Once the starter decided to finally turn, the engine would fire right up. I chalked it up to a starter with a "dead spot." Since I was dropping the new motor in shortly I just figured I'd replace the starter at the same time.

Which I did. New LT-1 style factory mini-starter to go with the new 350 engine. Unfortunately, it didn't make a difference with this intermittent starting issue. Sometimes a click was all you got. Repeatedly turning the key would eventually cause it to "catch" and start, which is how it stands today.

Acts for all the world like a starter with a "dead spot" but I find it highly unlikely 2 completely different starters would have exactly the same problem. I'm thinking ignition switch, but I don't want to waste money throwing parts at it if someone has had the same problem and could steer me in the right direction.
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Old 10-19-2004, 07:51 PM   #2
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is your battery fully charged or completely "good"?

Last edited by spartyon; 10-19-2004 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 10-19-2004, 09:06 PM   #3
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sorry to hear about your problem but it seems we both have the same exact problem. Sometimes you turn the key over the first time and it starts right up, other times you get "click" "click" "click 10 to 20 times... I replaced the starter , got the same thing, i had a brand new interstate battery which i bought for $10 because it was a stale battery, thought that was it, threw in a new optima gel battery...still the same deal..replaced both battery cables, cured it for like 30 starts and back to the same ole thing. Where did you get the starter? Cause i bought mine at Advanced and i think it might be junk even though it's new... I don't know but whenever i get a part from advanced or the autozone it seems like the part has a 50/50 chance of working. Unless it's possible the starter isn't seated right if that's possible. Think i am either going to simitt to get one next.
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Old 10-19-2004, 09:28 PM   #4
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you have to make abosolutely sure that your power input wire, and your purple "S" terminal wire have the best connection possible. I noticed that any excess resistance will cause the symptoms you have. Being that you get a little click, that probably means the S terminal is ok... if it wasn't, then you wouldn't even get that click sound. the click is the solenoid being energized and closes the circuit from the power input terminal to the output side of the relay/solenoid. So you can rule out your ignition switch pretty much.
I would disconnect the batt. then confirm a solid connection between the power wire and the solenoid (+) input terminal. make sure that the batter cable is flat against the solenoid and the fusible links go on top of that, followed of course by the nut.
You might also want to remove the starter and make sure that the (+) input terminal itself isn't loose. I've had that problem before... you want it tight, but don't overtighten or you'll surely break the plastic cover.
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Old 10-19-2004, 09:34 PM   #5
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So this problem doesent happen when the engine is cold?

Usually if this happens with a cold or hot engine it is one of the senerios described above. My all time favorite is still a loose wire or a poorly chosen ground spot. Ive seen some cars that had this problem because there was a broken or disconnected body ground. Who would think a little ground strap would cause so many headachs.
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Old 10-20-2004, 07:33 AM   #6
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i've had it where the wire/wire connector are punched on at the ends of the cable were all corroded, losing it contact, i just replaced my main wire to the starter and solved it, maybe another thing to look at
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Old 10-20-2004, 09:31 AM   #7
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I'll go back and recheck the connections, probably throw some new battery cables on it for good measure, but they just didn't look that bad to me when the motor was out, so I didn't mess with them. Funny thing is, when it finally decides to turn the engine over it really cranks it- it's not just barely kicking it over, it's whipping it over real good.

Battery is brand new with the engine and has as many amps as I could fit in the stock battery box. The small frame-side ground wire from the battery is connected, as are all the various grounds that go to the back of the engine from the wiring harness.

I checked the connection posts on the starter (both the main and the S connection) to make sure they were not loose in the solenoid before I bolted it on. I've had that cause problems in the past, so it's something I always check. None of the connections are in any way rigged or questionable. I bought this LT-1 starter from a local auto parts place I trust for good stuff, it's not a Pep Boys junk rebuild.

I think I'm also going to try a remote starter switch as a diagnostic procedure just to rule out anything dealing with the ignition switch, VATS, or the park/neutral switch.
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Old 10-20-2004, 09:38 AM   #8
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and check the ground straps that go to the block and make sure they are making good contact and are tight
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Old 10-20-2004, 11:51 PM   #9
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I've been trying to fix the exact same problem on my car for two years now. It started after my tranny swap. It seems like it happens at random. It will do it twice in one day, and then not do anything for three months. Then it does it again when I least expect it. It just sits there and clicks when I turn the key. Anywhere from 3 or 4 times all the up to about 25 clicks without turning the engine. Then it will just turn the engine over easily and start right up. I've spent hours with a voltmeter, and haven't been able to find anything. If you do find something out, please post it.
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Old 10-21-2004, 02:56 PM   #10
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Take the ground wire of the battery and connect it right to a clean spot on the block. 9 times out of 10 its the ground.
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Old 10-21-2004, 06:07 PM   #11
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Leigh- you may be on to something, although I'm not sure that's exactly it in this case. Here's what I'm thinking......

The starter has 2 main parts: The bendix (that throws out the spur gear and engages the flywheel) and the motor itself that turns it after it's engaged.

The thing that gets forgotten is that the bendix is what actually supplies current to the motor. Until the bendix is all the way out and the spur gear is engaged on the flexplate, no current flows to the starter motor. The bendix actually has an internal contact that completes the circuit to the starter when it is fully extended.

SO...... if it clicks, that would indicate the bendix is extended and the starter gear engaged. The ignition switch and the bendix have done their job. After that it's all up to the battery, cables and the starter motor. IN THEORY.

I'm gonna dive under the car and watch what happens to the starter when the key gets turned. Does the spur gear engage? Does it stay engaged? With it engaged is there still sufficient voltage showing at the starter's main terminal or is it so choked off (by bad connections) that it's basically showing zero voltage there? To be determined this weekend.....
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Old 10-21-2004, 08:43 PM   #12
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It is possible for the bendix to make the right noises, but still not complete its task. If there is insufficient voltage at the "S" terminal, it will pull the solenoid, but, not far enough for the internal contacts to supply power to the starter. You need at least 9 volts to make things work right. Running a new, larger wire from the switch to the starter will more than likely solve the problems. (though it may be overkill.....)
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Old 10-21-2004, 09:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by 92blue
I've been trying to fix the exact same problem on my car for two years now. It started after my tranny swap. It seems like it happens at random. It will do it twice in one day, and then not do anything for three months. Then it does it again when I least expect it. It just sits there and clicks when I turn the key. Anywhere from 3 or 4 times all the up to about 25 clicks without turning the engine. Then it will just turn the engine over easily and start right up. I've spent hours with a voltmeter, and haven't been able to find anything. If you do find something out, please post it.
I have a similar problem with my 1991 RS too. However, when I try and start it, I get no sound, but a delay for sometimes 2-3 seconds before the engine goes. Sometimes it doesnt start at all and I have to wait for maybe an hour before I try again. What is this, and why? I turn the engine but no clicking, then it goes 2-3 seconds later while I have the ignition fully turned. Why?
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Old 10-23-2004, 08:17 PM   #14
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My son's 89 camaro had the vats system going out. He got a chip with vats delete. Problem solved. Olso could be chip on the key. Finally I learned if back hatch is open the car will not start. I know I'm not telling you anything new so I'll end now. Dead stop.
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Old 10-24-2004, 11:11 AM   #15
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If it was VATS, I wouldn't even get a click. It completely disables the starter circuit. I happen to be propped up on cold medicine right now, not in any shape to work on cars, but you have my word, I'll post back when I get some info.
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Old 10-24-2004, 11:34 PM   #16
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I had the same exact problem with an 89 TBI car. My hsort term solution was a remote starter switch and my long term solution was to continue using the remote starter switch. It never lets me down!!!
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Old 10-25-2004, 12:20 AM   #17
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Do you mean remote solenoid?
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Old 10-25-2004, 12:45 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by The Chad
My son's 89 camaro had the vats system going out. He got a chip with vats delete. Problem solved. Olso could be chip on the key. Finally I learned if back hatch is open the car will not start. I know I'm not telling you anything new so I'll end now. Dead stop.
Is that an actual chip on the key? Maybe my random starting/not-starting problem has something to do with it? Its a traditional GM Square key with that little black square with metal strip on each side, real tiny. Is that the 'chip'? And if so, does that enable something for starting?
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Old 10-25-2004, 01:03 AM   #19
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call me carzy but could the flex plate have any correlation to all these simular problmes? if the bendix engages the teeth it is far enough for the starter to turn and start the car what if the bendix hits a tooth instead holding it out so it won't make the switch for the starter motor to turn. just a odd thought.



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Old 10-25-2004, 02:08 PM   #20
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No. I mean a remote starter switch. A switch I push that engages the starter instead of turning the key to the crank position.
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Old 10-25-2004, 02:43 PM   #21
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That solved your problem? If that is the case it wasn't your ignition switch, but your wiring was bad or corroded.
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Old 10-25-2004, 10:51 PM   #22
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It didn't solve the problem my car was having but it was one solution to it.
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Old 10-26-2004, 08:26 PM   #23
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Starter click

This is sounding really strange; my '92 does the same thing... new battery, cables, cleaned the ground cable connection location, etc. I don't know if this is true or just my imagination, but it seems to help to jiggle the steering wheel??
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Old 10-26-2004, 08:36 PM   #24
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starter click

Was just looking @ wiring diagrams, n had a thought...there are relays inline w/the solenoid, clutch, neutral safety, etc. If these relays are getting old, worn contacts, they could possibly not be giving the solenoid enough voltage to completely switch on, ya think??
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Old 10-26-2004, 08:37 PM   #25
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I have the exact same problem and cannot find a solution. I have tried replacing the battery cables, the ground is good and tight. Even replaced the ignition switch. This happened on my 3.1 and now my LT1. It really pisses me off because it makes me feel ghetto when people see me starting the car and I have to flick the switch 5-7 times before the starter engages. I hate that damn clicking. My connections are good and tight on the solenoid.
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Old 10-26-2004, 11:27 PM   #26
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Come on folks, lets solve this mystery once and for all.
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Old 10-27-2004, 03:09 AM   #27
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using a ford remote solenoid seems to be a popular fix for chevy engines in general, not just 3rd gens. Don't really see how this is still a mysterious problem, seeing as using a remote solenoid is a known solution.
If you know that the connections at the starter are not the problem, I'd check the huge connector in the firewall on the driverside. the two sides of the harness are held together by a screw/bolt, and it's covered in that mucky, sticky black goo. My old car had a bad connection there because of some rust deformed the firewall in that area.
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Old 10-27-2004, 05:00 PM   #28
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I will solve the mystery this weekend. Then we'll all know. Here's my diagnostic plan:

With the wife turning the key I am going to measure voltage at both the main terminal and at the ignition start terminal on the starter (with the car jacked up and me laying underneath with a voltage gague). I can just about predict that I will have the "click but no start" problem when I first turn the key after having the car sit for a few days.

First, I'll visually confirm that the bendix is physically engaging the spur gear onto the flexplate ring gear. From the sound if it, I believe it is, but I'm going to visually verify.

Then.... IF I still have a solid 12V at the starter's main terminal then I'll know that the starter motor itself isn't even trying to be feed any juice by the solenoid. If voltage is low I'll know that the cables aren't supplying adequate power to the starter due to a bad connection or a corroded cable.

Then.... I'll check the voltage at the ignition start terminal. If I have 12V then I'll know that the ignition switch is supplying adequate voltage and fully engaging the bendix and the problem must be either physical in nature or the starter has an internal problem. If the voltage is low, however, that will indicate the igniton switch and related components are not be supplying adequate voltage, which I will verify absolutely by jumping the main and the ignition start terminals together with a shunt (screwdriver shaft).

If all this proves unrevealing I will commit ritual suicide.
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Old 10-27-2004, 05:14 PM   #29
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Old 10-27-2004, 08:13 PM   #30
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my starter would "click" sometimes after new tranny install. pulled tq converter cover off and had someone turn key and found that starter was hitting flexplate 1 out of ten times. bought some starter shims and after a lot of trying finally got the right combo. no problems since.
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Old 10-31-2004, 09:57 AM   #31
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Hoogabooga- you get the gold star for the week. Exactly the problem I just found out I have, too. I'm posting an update in a fresh thread...
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Old 11-21-2004, 11:28 PM   #32
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Is that an actual chip on the key? Maybe my random starting/not-starting problem has something to do with it? Its a traditional GM Square key with that little black square with metal strip on each side, real tiny. Is that the 'chip'? And if so, does that enable something for starting?
well its actually a resistors in the chip. that could easily be the reason for it not to start some times. either the vats system going out or the key not making contact.
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Old 12-15-2004, 12:00 AM   #33
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I finally got it......figured out what my problem was with this:lala: :lala: :lala: .......After giving it extensive thought i figured maybe my starter needed shimmed, so instead of dicking with it i'de take it to the dealership and spend a riduculous amount of money just to be done with it...But , i had a prom chip burnt to delete my VATS and i have no resister chip in my key anymore...and i use a toggle switch to engauge the starter...gave it a little more thought and it made sense to me.....starter always clicks=working...but car won't fire .......could it perhaps be that the injectors aren't firing ...bought a new VATS key and the car has fired up every time.........NOW MY QUESTION IS.....it obviously has something to to with the prom chip in my case....could the prom chip also be the reason why my car always wants to backfire a little bit when i leave off the gas at high RPM'S and idles high until i crack the throttle??? Doesn't matter where i set the timing it still does backfires a little....SECOND QUESTION IS......I am tired of getting jacked spending $150 to $250 clams from people who don't know what the hell they are doing when it comes to prom chips. Any suggestion on where to get a good prom chip that's not junk?? And please don't tell me to get into prom burning...yes that is the best way but that stuff is way over my head nor do i have the time nor energy to set there and try to figure out how to do it.....i'de probably just get pissed off trying to figure it out and sell the car...i don't want to do that....Any help will be greatly appreciated...thanks!!
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92' Camaro RS/Black,T-tops/350 Targetmaster Comp.engine,TPI/5 spd/march underdrive pulleys/hedman hedders/3" MAC exhaust/K&N air filters/MSD blaster GM coil/MSD 6A ignition/Sub frame connectors,eibach pro kit springs,KYB/AGX Shocks and struts,Hawks 5" rear spoiler,Macewen white faced gauges,SS hood,Torque thrust 2's,Hurst short shifter.
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Old 12-15-2004, 12:00 AM
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1992 Camaro




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