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Friends 96 Legacy Grandwagon (EJ25, 4EAT) is just not turning over. Owner took the dog for a walk, and came back to the car and it just will not start. Has enough juice (jumped it just to make sure), headlights work, radio, all lights, etc, but it just clicks when you try to crank it.

 

Don't think its the inhibitor switch, tried jiggling it and putting it in both park and neutral. Fuses and the fusible link in the engine bay look okay, although I haven't check any fuses inside the car. Not sure if any have anything to do with the starter. Gave the starter a bit of a bash in case it was stuck, but to no avail.

 

Anyone have any ideas? This ones got me pretty stuck.

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Start with the basics. Are the terminals corroded? I'd take them off and clean them up just to be sure. Even if they look clean, they get goofy sometimes.

 

Can it be roll started? Can you used the jumper cables to jump the starter driectly from the battery? (Make sure the trans is in neutral)

 

usually crank issues turn out to be simple. but can be frustrating finding the cause. Keep eliminating possibilities till it cranks again.

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Start with the basics. Are the terminals corroded? I'd take them off and clean them up just to be sure. Even if they look clean, they get goofy sometimes.

 

Can it be roll started? Can you used the jumper cables to jump the starter driectly from the battery? (Make sure the trans is in neutral)

 

usually crank issues turn out to be simple. but can be frustrating finding the cause. Keep eliminating possibilities till it cranks again.

 

Terminals look fine, I haven't taken them off yet but I will tonight and give them a tidy up just in case. Haven't tried to jump the starter, but I'll try that as well. How does the procedure go for that?

 

I don't think I can roll start it as its an automatic.

 

I figured it'll be something basic like a relay or something simple like that.

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Pull the wire off the starter solenoid. It's very easy to access, and it's near the ATF dipstick at least on US spec soobs. Then jumper that (through a fused link) to the battery + terminal and see if it cranks. If it does then the starter is fine and it's something in the ignition/inhibitor. If not then the starter is having issues.

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Pull the wire off the starter solenoid. It's very easy to access, and it's near the ATF dipstick at least on US spec soobs. Then jumper that (through a fused link) to the battery + terminal and see if it cranks. If it does then the starter is fine and it's something in the ignition/inhibitor. If not then the starter is having issues.

 

Why not just check for 12VDC at the starter solenoid terminal when the key is turned to "start"? Also, I believe the contacts in the starter soleniod have been known to fail after years of use.

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Has enough juice . . . but it just clicks when you try to crank it.

 

Pull the starter and check the copper contacts inside the solenoid. Over the years they get pitted and burned. Replace the contacts and clean up the copper contact "washer" on the solenoid's plunger--easy and relatively cheap fix.

 

Good luck.

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My wife's 96 2.2 LS wagon was doing the same thing. I replaced the starter with a used one from the local pick n pull and it's fine now. If you can remove the starter and have it tested at a part's store that's equipped to test them at least then you'll be able to eliminate whether or not it's a bad starter. And do not use cinder block's for jackstand's whatever you do. Good luck.

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I put my test light on the starter solenoid last night (need to buy a multimeter) and I get power on the cable direct from the battery, and power in the small wire on the "on" position, which appears to go off when turned to the "start position" momentarily. Does this sound like a wiring problem, or does the starter crank when that wire is turned off?

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So your test light you had one lead on the starter solenoid (the smaller wire) with it still connected to the starter. Where was the other test light lead connected (I am assuming to ground?). In that case the light should be on only with the key in start (not run) and in neutral/park.

 

Why not just check for 12VDC at the starter solenoid terminal when the key is turned to "start"? Also, I believe the contacts in the starter soleniod have been known to fail after years of use.

 

You could do it that way too as long as you leave the terminal connected while you hook up the multimeter, which might make it a little trickier. For one person I think just jumpering it as a test is faster. You'd have to check the voltage with the wire still connected to the solenoid because some soobs seem to not pass full voltage to the solenoid eventually resulting in strange behavior. Usually in that case people say to put in relay right off the battery and use the starter solenoid wire to power its coil.

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The small wire at the starter should have 12v with key START.

Having voltage there with key ON makes no sense, unless maybe you tested wrong. There should not be voltage in that circuit unless the key is in start position.

 

Where did you connect the test light probes for the test?

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The small wire at the starter should have 12v with key START.

Having voltage there with key ON makes no sense, unless maybe you tested wrong. There should not be voltage in that circuit unless the key is in start position.

 

Where did you connect the test light probes for the test?

 

Attached the lead to an engine ground. It is possible I tested wrong, as it was dark when I tested it and I had the girlfriend turning the key. I guess its possible she got the on and the start positions back to front as I was testing too. I'll try again today after work and see how I get on.

 

I'll probably grab a starter from the junkyard just in case anyway, they're cheap enough.

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Have you tried tapping the starter? I used to carry around a 2 ft piece of rebar that would be used to reach in and gently tap the starter when it wouldn't start. My kids called it "the starter assistant" when they needed to use it.

Eventually I poked a hole in the starter with it and had to replace the starter.

The copper contacts inside the starter are replaceable, the only thing is you have to remove the starter, take it apart to get the contacts out and then go searching for a match for them.

Joe

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As was already stated, you should have power going to the starter solenoid lead when in the START position. The power turns on the solenoid which then makes the electrical connection from the battery to the starter motor windings. The car is at the age where the solenoid contacts wear down and cause this trouble. The contacts are replaceable if you want to service the starter. I'm almost certain that either replacing the starter or fixing it will solve your trouble.

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Got it sorted. As most of you said, it was just the starter. Got another one from the junkyard, put it in (only took about five minutes from start to finish) and turn key, away she goes. Cheers for your help guys.

 

I've still got the old one so I'm going to pull it apart and check out the contacts. I'll post pictures when i do.

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Congrats! Replacing the contacts is super easy--this youtube video might help:

 

Ooops, won't link! Just google: Youtube Auto Repair & Maintenance : How to Replace Auto Starter Contacts

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