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Old 10-31-2010, 11:22 AM   #1
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Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn over

1992 Firebird, Carb motor,700r4

Car seemed to be starting fine. I got it painted, the painter told me "the starter was so loose it looked like it was going fall off, so i tightened it up for you"

When I went to start the car, it sounded horrible, Lot of grinding like it needed to be shimmed bigtime. This makes sense if it started ok when the bolts were loose, but now that they were tight sounded awful.

So i go home, remove the starter. It does look tight, so i try a few shims. Now the car just clicks when i turn the key. I hear what i think is the bendix engaging, but the car doesnt turn over at all. I tried removing the shims, same thing. Tried another starter, same thing (also had both tested, they tested fine). The battery has tested good, and it powers my A/C, lights etc just fine.

The clearance is fairly tight on the starter/flywheel, but I don't think it's the issue. I measured when shimming, and it was close. I will say that when i tested by inserting a screwdriver to get the bendix out, sometimes it hit the flexplate and wouldnt go all the way out, but if i released and did it again a few times it would. Samething for disengaging, but i didnt think this was a problem, especially when the flywheel is moving. If the bendix does have to extend all the way out before it turns, this could be my issue...

I'm wondering if i could have a bad ground, or somehow missed a wire when reconnecting the starter? Is there a seperate lead to "engage" the starter than there is to actually turn it over?

Also removed the serpentine belt and turned the engine over by hand, it's not hydrolocked or anything.

Finally, the lights in the car do dim when i turn the key over like there is a load, even though the starter hardly makes a noise minus the clicking. Guessing ground, but will take any help i can get.

Thanks,
Shane
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1992 Firebird
350 bored .040 4 bolt main - TRW forged pistons
Comp Ratio: 9.76 to 1
Comp Cams 270H 224/224 @.060 .470/.470 lift, 110 centerline
Dart Iron Eagle 215cc heads, 64cc chamber
750 Quick Fuel DP Carb

Last edited by ShaneBuss2; 10-31-2010 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 10-31-2010, 11:47 AM   #2
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

You really need to determine if the gear on the armature (bendix) engages the flywheel. This will narrow it down to a mechanical interference issue or an electrical problem.

Did you replace the solenoid when you tried the other starter? The spring in the solenoid will lose tension and not provide the proper force to extend the gear on the armature.

The headlights not going out completely lend me to think you have a starter wiring or mechanical fit issue. If it were a battery or battery cable issue, the lights would go out completely.

I can't believe that the painter actually tightened up the starter! Talk about taking liberties. If he isn't bigger than you, go smack him. I would be livid.
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Old 10-31-2010, 11:54 AM   #3
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

I just climbed back under the car,stuck the screw driver in the starter test hole, and extended the bendix until it engaged the flywheel properly. There was just enough tension so it stayed engaged when i removed the screw driver. Retested, same issue. That should rule out a clearance issue completely. The starter isnt even "trying" to turn over, even though i can hear the bendix engage (or think i can). I really wonder if i broke an old ground or something when i initially unbolted the starter to see what was going on. The engine has not turned over since.

Finally, the starters have their own solenoids, so yes i've tried to starters with two solenoids that have both tested fine.

If the starter isnt trying to turn the motor over, why do the lights, etc dim when i turn the key? Really think i need to try jumper cable from the ground on the starter to the frame or something
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1992 Firebird
350 bored .040 4 bolt main - TRW forged pistons
Comp Ratio: 9.76 to 1
Comp Cams 270H 224/224 @.060 .470/.470 lift, 110 centerline
Dart Iron Eagle 215cc heads, 64cc chamber
750 Quick Fuel DP Carb
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Old 10-31-2010, 11:55 AM   #4
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

start it remotely, if that checks out and the car fires up, then look into the ignition switch that is located midlevel on the steering column... you will need to look for the troubleshooting chart on that one as I don't remember the steps, however, reading your profile you yanked the TPI system out, right... you don't have VATS anymore? if your battery was disconnected, I think you may have to enter a code or something on your factory stereo... these are all just ideas, look into them further to see if it applies to your case... ...
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Old 10-31-2010, 11:57 AM   #5
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

Car was originally a 305TBI, but it does still have vats. I dont think this is the issue though, the starter is trying to turn over when i turn the key. If it was vats i dont think i would even hear the bendix or it would do anything.

I have disconnected /reconnected the battery a million times, never had a problem or had to play with my stereo..

Thanks
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1992 Firebird
350 bored .040 4 bolt main - TRW forged pistons
Comp Ratio: 9.76 to 1
Comp Cams 270H 224/224 @.060 .470/.470 lift, 110 centerline
Dart Iron Eagle 215cc heads, 64cc chamber
750 Quick Fuel DP Carb
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Old 10-31-2010, 12:10 PM   #6
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

Grounding is absolutely key to what is going on here. Make sure that all of your battery cables are good and tight and that the ends where the lugs crimp on the cables are not coming loose.

Two tests that you want to perform:
1. Hook up a voltmeter to the battery and if it doesn't have a memory function then you need to see the display while you are cranking. Look and see what the number drops to. If your voltage is 12.6 and then only drops to around 12, you are not grounded and your starter is not trying to start the engine. If it drops into the 10s, then its trying.
2. You need to TEMPORARILY remove one of your starter bolts and hook your negative cable directly to the starter bolt and re-install it. Most industrial starters are hooked up this way and it eliminates most grounding problems with cranking the engine.

I personally have excessive grounds on all my cars when I get a problem like this. An old car really needs a ground from the battery to the starter, the engine block to the frame, the engine block or cylinder head to the firewall, and the battery to the body. If you have all that, the car starts easily and the lights stay bright.

Good luck!
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Old 10-31-2010, 12:27 PM   #7
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

By the way, if the starter bolt ground works, I suggest sticking with that. The way that I do it is to take one factory starter bolt, one 3/8 hardware bolt (maybe 3/4" long) and flip it upside down and weld it to the top of the starter bolt, head to head. Then, I install and torque the starter bolt back in first, attach the negative cable to the new threads of your "stud" and put a lock nut to it.
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Old 10-31-2010, 02:19 PM   #8
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

wires hooked right on starter
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Old 10-31-2010, 03:20 PM   #9
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

Where are you getting the other starter? Obviously one of them is from your car. Where did the other one come from? When you are turning over the car, where does it get hot electrically? Positive terminal at the battery? Put a jumper cable on it? Have you tested the battery?
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:29 PM   #10
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

Sounds like a bad ground somewhere. Are your battery cables stiff and brittle? You'd be surprised what just one bad cable will do. I tested my old starter when it started to go bad, the gear would come down but it would not spin, after removing it i grounded it and hooked it to the battery...same thing...came down but wouldn't spin. new starter works great. Also another thing...after driving your car to operating temps...lets say 25 min worth of driving...and trying to restart within 10 min before the car cools down did the starter ever crank slow?
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:17 AM   #11
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

Measured battery with voltmeter, 13.1. I can hear the holley blue fuel pump running strong, the a/c etc also runs fine. I dont think it's a power/ground issue, unless it's a melted fuseable link going to the starter. Havent been able to measure voltage drop when trying to start (seems like it is significant by the lights dimming, etc), i will do this when i have a friend over.

I did find the purple starter wire was connected to the back of one of the long starter bolts, instead of the proper place on the solenoid. I fixed this, and i still get nothing when i try to start the car. I don't even hear the solenoid engage anymore, clicking, etc

Is it possible this starter/something got friend by trying to start it with the purple wire connected to the starter? I imagine this effectively grounded it... not the starter bolts that go into the block, the back of one of the two long starter bolts that hold the starter together.

Still totally confused, about to start checking voltage everywhere. Starter looks to be shimmed properly now, although it does sometime stay engaged when testing with a screwdriver...

thanks
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:27 AM   #12
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwande View Post
Where are you getting the other starter? Obviously one of them is from your car. Where did the other one come from? When you are turning over the car, where does it get hot electrically? Positive terminal at the battery? Put a jumper cable on it? Have you tested the battery?
The reason I am asking is that it is very possible to have 2 defective starters, especially if one was laying around. There might be a reason it was taken off. Best bet is to have them both tested.

If you positive battery cable is corroded inside the sheathing, you won't be getting the proper voltage to the starter. This normally manifests itself as a "hot spot" that you can feel with your hand.

Just as a quick check, have you tried to start it in neutral? Normally the neutral safety switch doesn't spin the starter if bad, but electronics can have a mind of their own sometimes. Quick easy check.
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:42 AM   #13
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

I have had both starters tested, they both tested fine. One is brand new, one is the one that was on the car, and working fine, before i removed the starter to shim it. Since reinstalling, i have had this issue.

I measured resistance from the negative battery cable to the intake manifold, and it was 0.... I need to measure the voltage from the positive on the starter to the battery, and see if it's dropping there. If that check out ok I will try the other starter again... hell im temped to jump the starter directly to the battery and rule out any issues. However, i guess it would need to also touch the purple wire to engage the solenoid?

We will see, hoping i damaged a fuseable link :-/
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Old 11-07-2010, 12:38 PM   #14
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

I think you're on the right track. You can start to narrow the window by detemining what will work and what won't. You should be able to hone in on the problem area(s).
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Old 11-07-2010, 02:16 PM   #15
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Re: Tried everything, cannot figure out starter problem. Clicks but does not turn ove

Had a friend watch the battery voltage. 13, dropped to 12.5 when i turned the key forward, didnt drop at ALL when i tried to start the car. Kind of weird, because the a/c,fan,lights do dim when i try to start it...

I think my grounds are good, i'm guessing either a fusible link to the starter or somehow the purple wire is damaged to the solenoid?
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Old 11-07-2010, 02:16 PM
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