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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Starter contacts

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10 replies to this topic

#1 intrigueing


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Posted 23 January 2004 - 09:40 AM

Yet again the blasted starter is acting up. Here's a lowdown on the history. Replaced battery - 6 months later starter doing the solenoid click then nothing, try it a few times then it starts. Replaced the contacts and cleaned up the plunger, everything back to normal. 6 months later starting to act up again, pulled starter and the contacts were minorly worn, cleaned up everything, and I mean everthing - all grounds, battery connections, bolts, battery terminals - all made shiny. The problem got much better. Two months later when the car is really cold, like 5F or lower the car takes minutes to start - unless in a slightly warmer garage - same symptoms - turn the key and nothing. I've tried jiggling the key while cranking, and there is no difference. So here is what I'm going to try.
1. Get the battery load tested just to make sure.
2. Swap the battery from my other car
3. Add an additional wire from the pos battery to the starter.

So a few questions arise:
1. What is the recommended CCA for subie batteries - this one seems small, I'll check to see what it is rated at.
2. What power is required to throw the starter solenoid? It is very temperature dependant, leading me to believe there is a lack of power by the battery- however when the starter kicks it spins fine, and starts fine - weird.
3. Could other parts of the solenoid be on the fritz, causing the problem?
4. What gage wire should I run as an additional wire to the starter? - This will not be the sole wire to the starter.
5. Any additional insight-experience?

Thanks for any comments

#2 Soup


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Posted 23 January 2004 - 10:07 AM

I had the exact same problem on my Celica, I found the Ground wire from the Chaisis To the Battery Bad. I replaced the lead, and all better!

#3 intrigueing


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Posted 23 January 2004 - 12:17 PM

Thanks, I think I will add a wire from the negative terminal to the body. Good idea!

#4 sixiron


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Posted 24 January 2004 - 08:25 AM

used to have 99 ob/sw...The only problem you have with your starter is the copper washers (inside housing)...had exact same problem with start/no start after keying up...evidently the copper washers on the contacts get deformed ...sometimes start, sometimes no start ,recycle key and vroom....your local sub dealer should be aware of the problem but do not let them fix it...100 bucks,.... if you can remove your starter and take it to a starter/alternator rebuilder...they should know exactly what the problem is.. mine took all of 10 minutes (while I waited) 15 bucks ...good luck bd

#5 intrigueing


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Posted 24 January 2004 - 05:04 PM

Sixiron - Are you tallking about the plunger washer? The contacts have been replaced and recently inspected and cleaned up again. The plunger has been cleaned up twice, and looks clean and flat. I just got done cleaning every ground that I could find on the car. The ground in front of the battery was quite grungy, and I added another negative 10 GA wire from the battery to the body. The battery is 570 CCA, should this be adequate? Also one other ground that I cleaned and that was dirty was on the firewall to the engine mount area - exactly in the center. This was a ground for the a black flat plug that was labled "Power Trans Unit" anyone know what that is for? Now I am crossing my fingers that the problem is solved.

One last question, and I think I know the answer - Is the smaller positive wire on the starter the one that activates the starter solenoid - and where does it go so I can check the connection?

#6 Supaglu


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Posted 24 January 2004 - 06:22 PM

Do you have the starter motor with the three screws in the end plate on the solenoid ?, when you take the end plate off you can pull the plunger out leaving you with two copper "L" shaped contacts.
They tend to wear unevenly so that when the plunger is pulled down it touches one of the contacts but not the other giving you the systems you describe, you can remove the L shaped contacts and enlarge the hole with a file to slightly raise the contact to the same height as the other one.
If your feeling really ambitious you could try and get a strip of copper and make your own contacts !

The small positive wire to the solenoid originates from the ignition switch but it may go through a relay first.

#7 frag


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Posted 25 January 2004 - 11:23 AM

Would be useful to know what engine and kind of trans you have.
If it's anything like my 96 Brighton, then
1) 570 CCA seems quite enough. I have something like that in my car and I can start it at -32C and probably colder (rest of the winter will tell...)
2) From the battery, the electrical current path is (a) ignition switch (B) clutch pedal starter defeat switch or AT starter defeat switch © starter relay (d) starter solenoid.
If (B) is faulty - I'm more familiar with the manual trans setup than the AT - you hear nothing at all when you turn the ignition to start.
If © is faulty, you might also hear nothing (relay not working) or hear a click under the dash (relay moves but contact is not made).
If (d) is faulty, you hear a click inside the car (relay under the dash driver's side) and inside the engine compartment (solenoid moves but contact is not properly made)
I've been told by a starter rebuilder that the starter motor brushes almost never fail and fail only on very old cars.
That's the limit of my personal experience.
Good luck!

#8 Cougar


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Posted 25 January 2004 - 01:27 PM

This problem should be easy to track down. One thing you should have to work on this if you don't have one already, is a voltmeter. With this you won't have to guess at what is wrong and using it correctly will lead you to problem. You can use a testlight also but I prefer a meter since it is more versatile and precise.

The small lead to the solenoid is the lead from the ignition switch to turn on the solenoid. You should measure the voltage at the connection when this problem is happening. If things are ok to there you should have 12 volts with the key in the START position. You may have an intermitant solenoid causing this but if the click you are hearing is from the solenoid working then it is ok (the windings anyways), but you may have some other trouble inside the starter possibly.

To confirm the trouble is inside the starter you also need to verify that there is 12 volts getting to the main lead on the starter while the key is set to the START position. A bad connection to the battery or a internally corrodid battery cable can cause a problem like this. If you have good voltage at both spots then you know the problem is internal to the starter.

Along with the solenoid contacts as a possible problem you may have bad brushes or intermitant windings on the armature. Since you have already worked on the starter you may be better off just replacing it with a remanufactured one if you pin the trouble down to it.

#9 cookie


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Posted 25 January 2004 - 06:03 PM

take a piece of wire and run it from the positive battery terminal to the small wire on the solenoid.
Make sure you are in neutral or park first.
If it still does not turn over it is internal in the solenoid or starter, if it does it is switch or connection.

#10 intrigueing


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Posted 25 January 2004 - 09:30 PM

Ok problem still not solved. The car is a 95 Leg AT.

So far here's what I know

1) The starter contacts are fine, as is the plunger washer
2) All grounds and connections are fine, and the starter turns fine once it kicks, leading me to believe the battery is fine.
3) The problem only happens when the car is cold and it is cold outside
4) The car is my wifes, however the few times recently that I have tried to start the car I did not notice the solenoid click then nothing, it has been turn the key and no noise whatsoever.

All of this leads me to think that the problem is not in the starter. Tough to pinpoint, even with a voltmeter, as it does not happen all of the time. I think next time it is really cold I will pull the small plug on the starter and get the line voltage while turning the key. Does the AT have aother relay in addition to the ignition and AT interlock switch? Where are the relays so I can check the other connections? Is there a way to bypass the AT interlock relay to see if that is the culprit?

#11 Cougar


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Posted 26 January 2004 - 10:50 AM

I wouldn't be real concerned about the location of relays until you prove you have a problem to the solenoid connection. You don't have to remove the connection to check it either. Just place your voltage probes on the solenoid connection and a good ground point to check for voltage.

If you wanted to, you could build your own testlight out of a tailight bulb and socket. By adding an extension wire and alligator clips to the end you could just attach the setup under the hood so you could view it with the hood up or run it into the passenger compartment. This will make it easier for you catch. If the light works when the problem is occuring then you would just have to move the gator probe to the main lead to check it and your done.

I'm not sure how the newer models are wired but I seem to recall my '88 Loyale doing this same kind of thing. It turned out to be a loose fuseable link connection that was the problem. You may want to check yours just for good measure.

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