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Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

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Old 07-11-2018, 11:05 PM   #1  
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Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

Hi all,


I've been chasing this problem down for quite some time and I'm hoping to get rid of it for good. In all my years of owning GM cars, I've never had one with the hot-start issue. I've only heard of it.



As per the post's title, the car won't crank at times. 1989 GTA 350. VATS programmed out of the PROM and enable relay bypassed. I do not have headers. Stock-style starter. New battery cables and newer battery. All connections at starter have been cleaned and tightened.



Usually this problem happens after driving for a while then parking and coming back to start it after a few minutes. It seems to happen more on warmer days, but it's happened in the winter, too. I don't think it's ever happened when first starting the car. I did have a fuel pump fail at home and after a number of attempts to start, I had the same no-crank issue. Is something getting hot?



Also, when this occurs, I don't hear any clicking. It's like no power gets to the solenoid.



As a backup, I have a momentary switch under the dash connected to the starter which has saved me from countless tows. When the key won't crank the starter, the momentary switch always will. That tells me the starter is ok.



I've gone through the circuit per the factory service manual and everything seems ok. Ignition switch is adjusted correctly as is the transmission range switch. My steering column has the typical GM loose issue. I've tightened it before, but it didn't help for long.



Could I still have an issue with the wiring to the starter? Could the loose steering column be moving connections around at the ignition switch?


If this is the problem, is a gear reduction starter a good solution? I know a lot of people go for the Ford relay. Not against it, but I'd love to score an LT4 starter and be done with it if that's a good fix.

Last edited by backtothe80s; 07-11-2018 at 11:21 PM.
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Old 07-12-2018, 06:05 AM   #2  
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Re: Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

Check for 12V at the solenoid terminal WHILE IT'S IN THE ACT OF SCREWING UP.

12V present = you need a new starter - NOT rebuild the one you have - this is what I'd expect
12V not present = you have a problem with wiring, VATS, ign sw, etc., which you then would have to track down

Approach the problem with logic, order, discipline, and reason. It's just auto electricity; doesn't get much simpler than that.

If it turns out you need a starter, I HIGHLY recommend getting rid of the old WW2 direct-drive Delco POS from the Stone age; and put in something … from the 60s or later. ANY of the "mini-starter" solutions will work better. Choose one whose quality you think you can trust. You'll find there are 3 basic choices: a LT1/Vortec, Hitachi, or Denso. AFAIK there's no magic in a romantic and impressive-sounding "LT4" one; sounds like a buzzword to me; although I don't know anything particular about it. Just sounds like a great way to spend more money and still get the same thing you could get some other way. A plain-Jane 98 truck one for example will probably work EXACTLY as well.
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Old 07-12-2018, 11:57 AM   #3  
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Re: Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

Had the same issue with my ‘88 L98 IROC. Got a starter for an ‘88-up L98 Corvette. It’s a gear reduction mini starter. RockAuto sells a NEW Remy for less than $100.00. That ended my problem 3 years, and 30,000 miles ago. Bolts right in, all you’ll need are new starter bolts the correct length.
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Old 07-12-2018, 09:09 PM   #4  
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Re: Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

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Originally Posted by backtothe80s View Post
..........As a backup, I have a momentary switch under the dash connected to the starter which has saved me from countless tows. When the key won't crank the starter, the momentary switch always will. That tells me the starter is ok.......
This statement right here tells me that yes indeed , your starter is NOT the source of your troubles . I know you said you adjusted the ignition switch and the neutral safety switch , but even if in perfect mechanical adjustment if one or the other has somewhat burnt contacts , or loose wiring interconnecting the two , you'll get exactly what you describe , an intermittent no start condition that is rectified by applying 12V to the starter's "S" terminal , which is of course what your doing with your "always will" pushbutton setup . If you have run your pushbutton's wire directly to the starter's "S" terminal , the sometimes open circuit in the factory wiring could be anywhere back from that "S" terminal to where the circuit gets it's power , both the ignition switch and the neutral safety switch , and any and all connectors involved (including the "C100" connector) are prime suspects here .
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:20 PM   #5  
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Re: Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

80s:
I had a similar issue to what you are describing on my '71 Malibu 350. Good battery, new cables, clean connections, grounds checked/cleaned. No clicking, nothing, after a drive, especially on a hot day and if restarting within 10 or so minutes. Let it cool for 30-60 min it would start every time. It would also start every time in this condition with a boost or if you took a screw driver and crossed the terminals on the starter after burning oneself on the exhaust. Sometimes tapping it with a tire iron while someone held the key in start position would work too tho this ended up busting the solenoid case once.

For me, it was not the starter but rather the starter mounted solenoid. As I understand it, this part, which is closest to the exhaust, heat soaks over time and when aged and hot it won't work (too high resistance I guess). On my Malibu the solenoid was removable and a new one fixed the issue. Did this a couple of times over the years.

Common enough issue that people found work around fixes such as this: http://chevellestuff.net/tech/ford_solenoid.htm

Good luck with your fix.
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:44 PM   #6  
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Re: Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sofakingdom View Post
Check for 12V at the solenoid terminal WHILE IT'S IN THE ACT OF SCREWING UP.

12V present = you need a new starter - NOT rebuild the one you have - this is what I'd expect
12V not present = you have a problem with wiring, VATS, ign sw, etc., which you then would have to track down

That's a great suggestion. Since this issue seldom happens at home, I could rig something up to at least tell me what's happening at the S terminal. Maybe a light or buzzer. Something that will give me an indication. I appreciate it!
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:47 PM   #7  
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Re: Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeBird View Post
This statement right here tells me that yes indeed , your starter is NOT the source of your troubles . I know you said you adjusted the ignition switch and the neutral safety switch , but even if in perfect mechanical adjustment if one or the other has somewhat burnt contacts , or loose wiring interconnecting the two , you'll get exactly what you describe , an intermittent no start condition that is rectified by applying 12V to the starter's "S" terminal , which is of course what your doing with your "always will" pushbutton setup . If you have run your pushbutton's wire directly to the starter's "S" terminal , the sometimes open circuit in the factory wiring could be anywhere back from that "S" terminal to where the circuit gets it's power , both the ignition switch and the neutral safety switch , and any and all connectors involved (including the "C100" connector) are prime suspects here .



I've never opened the C100 up. I'm scared to look in there.


Seriously, thanks for the insight. I'm thinking it's an intermittent open somewhere, too.
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:49 PM   #8  
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Re: Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bow_Tied View Post
80s:
I had a similar issue to what you are describing on my '71 Malibu 350. Good battery, new cables, clean connections, grounds checked/cleaned. No clicking, nothing, after a drive, especially on a hot day and if restarting within 10 or so minutes. Let it cool for 30-60 min it would start every time. It would also start every time in this condition with a boost or if you took a screw driver and crossed the terminals on the starter after burning oneself on the exhaust. Sometimes tapping it with a tire iron while someone held the key in start position would work too tho this ended up busting the solenoid case once.

For me, it was not the starter but rather the starter mounted solenoid. As I understand it, this part, which is closest to the exhaust, heat soaks over time and when aged and hot it won't work (too high resistance I guess). On my Malibu the solenoid was removable and a new one fixed the issue. Did this a couple of times over the years.

Common enough issue that people found work around fixes such as this: http://chevellestuff.net/tech/ford_solenoid.htm

Good luck with your fix.

Thank you!
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:50 PM   #9  
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Re: Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galaxie500XL View Post
Had the same issue with my Ď88 L98 IROC. Got a starter for an Ď88-up L98 Corvette. Itís a gear reduction mini starter. RockAuto sells a NEW Remy for less than $100.00. That ended my problem 3 years, and 30,000 miles ago. Bolts right in, all youíll need are new starter bolts the correct length.

When it's time for a new starter, that's what I'll replace it with.
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Old 07-13-2018, 06:52 AM   #10  
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Re: Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

This has happened to my '88 Firebird since the day I bought it. Changed out starters, ignition switch, etc. Finally rigged a momentary like yours and use that instead when it doesn't start. My research has led me to believe it is resistance in the ignition wire from the ignition switch to the starter and I don't have the time or patience, right now, to replace the wiring. Never happened to any of my '91s.
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Old 07-13-2018, 10:01 PM   #11  
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Re: Intermittent no-crank. Infamous GM hot-start issue?

Quote:
Originally Posted by antares57 View Post
This has happened to my '88 Firebird since the day I bought it. Changed out starters, ignition switch, etc. Finally rigged a momentary like yours and use that instead when it doesn't start. My research has led me to believe it is resistance in the ignition wire from the ignition switch to the starter and I don't have the time or patience, right now, to replace the wiring. Never happened to any of my '91s.

At some point I'll have to rig up something at each connection that lights up or makes a sound until I find it. Until then, thanks for being there, momentary.
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