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Starting Question


Micah.Berry
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I got back to my home airport last night, having been gone for 4 days. I walked out to the car and inserted the key, then twisted to the "start" position. The starter cranked then engine for about 1 second, then quit. "Odd..." I thought. So I turned the key to the "off" position for a moment and then back to "start". The engine cranked as normal and started as normal-no delays or long cranking process this second time.

Facts that could possibly influence this include:

1. The car, a 1999 LS, has approximately 130k miles

2. The car had a Wal-Mart battery that began failing to start the car the first crank. It was replaced under warranty in late February / early March. The warranty was for 3 years from the date of purchase. I didn't have the receipt as I purchased the car last year (364 days ago!), but Wal-Mart honored the manufactured-on sticker on the side of the battery. This sticker lists the month/year the battery was made. It had 2 months of warranty remaining.

3. The reason I replaced the battery in the first place is I was getting a click and then slow starting. I was concerned that the issue might be the dreaded starter issue, but I decided to go the easiest-to-replace route first. The car has performed flawlessly since the battery replacement. In fact, I was dumbfounded at how quickly the starter spun when I first started the car after the battery replacement.

So, last night - the starter engaged and cranked the engine. No odd sounds or smells. It just stopped cranking after a second. This leads me to believe that it stopped getting electricity from the battery. While the battery is the correct type according to Wal-Mart, it's obvious that it doesn't take up the entire spot designed for it in the battery compartment - i.e., it's smaller than the metal plate upon which it sits. Cold cranking amps are 700 or 730, I forget which as I type this, but it is well above 650. It makes me wonder if the battery might have a damaged cell.

Thoughts?

Thanks!

Micah

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If the battery is good, and the terminals are clean, then I would suspect the solenoid contacts in the starter motor. It's a common fault, and cheap enough once the starter has been accessed, which is a bit tougher. Don't replace the starter, replace the copper contacts - $30.00 Can. when I did it.

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If the battery is good, and the terminals are clean, then I would suspect the solenoid contacts in the starter motor. It's a common fault, and cheap enough once the starter has been accessed, which is a bit tougher. Don't replace the starter, replace the copper contacts - $30.00 Can. when I did it.

Yes this is common as the solenoid is switching a few hundred amps of current each cycle. That wll create some arcing of the metal plate and eventually wear it. This problem is usualy a failure to start though which is different than explained. A worn plate or contact point in the solenoid tends to create dead spots where the starter will be intermittent. This post seems different.

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Yes this is common as the solenoid is switching a few hundred amps of current each cycle. That wll create some arcing of the metal plate and eventually wear it. This problem is usualy a failure to start though which is different than explained. A worn plate or contact point in the solenoid tends to create dead spots where the starter will be intermittent. This post seems different.

Why are you giving me advice? I don't need any advice.

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Why are you giving me advice? I don't need any advice.

Well you've advised to check the starter solenoid. I think that is the wrong thing to check given the evidence. The starter engaged then quit. Its a lot of work to validate your theory. Who wants to pull the intake manifold just to find out the theory is wrong.

Starter current peaks at start when rotor is at zero RPM. There is no back EMF from rotor so motor current is at max. Since the starter worked initially then the contactor was able to supply max cuurent, its most demanding interval. As starter motor RPMs build, current drops, putting less strain on the contactor. This is why contactors are unlikely to initiate a start then quit. They're prone to not start as a poor connection lines up between plate and contact points so the starter never engages. So assuming the OP has properly described his problem as a start that quits then I would not invest the several hours to tear into the intake manifold to change the contactor or replace the starter motor. But that is just me.

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Good evening! Sorry for the delayed response. Landar, the starter just stopped-no click. Just odd. All my readings on the famous starter issue have the starter making a single click, but no cranking of the engine. I got crank, but the cranking just stopped after about one second (if that). At this point, I'm beginning to doubt myself - I'm wondering if I relaxed enough (as I got home late with delayed flights) to let the key drift from the "start" position to the "on" position. That's possible. The car has started flawlessly since Thursday night.

Thanks fir all the insight. Hopefully, I've got a year or two before I need to tear into the engine to replace the contacts!

Micah

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Ok Micah. Yes, if it is not causing problems now, do not worry about it any further. If it is something more serious, it will be letting you know in the near future. ;)

I have never experienced solenoid contacts that start to work then break connection. With the high inrush current, the copper puddles a little and keeps the contacts going. I have had the contacts weld up on me and the starter just keeps cranking even with the key removed. Now thats unnerving!

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:lol: I suppose you're right... If it's more serious, then it'll let me know eventually. I'm traveling on business again, so hopefully when I arrive at my home airport, the car starts normally! :) If it does, then my highest priority is finding time to get those strut bars replaced.
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  • 4 months later...

Thought I would follow up here. My starter motor finally gave up the ghost (mostly). I definitely got the "click" sound with no turning of the starter motor to turn the engine. Rats! However, I am sooooo thankful that the issue occurred while the car was in my garage versus on a road trip I was about to take my family on over labor day weekend. Had to fly out for work last week, but ordered a rebuilt starter from Sewell, which arrived by the time I flew in, and then got the car to the shop this morning with the starter and intake gaskets. It took a bunch of tries to get the starter to turn over, but it finally did, and I was so relieved that I wasn't going to have to call a tow truck.

So the money I had saved to respray the front is going for my starter and install, which in my book is a bit more important! :rolleyes:

Hopefully the starter fixes my problem for the next 140 thousand miles! I'm also having the rotors turned and wheels balanced too while it's in there. I'll update after I get the car back and run it a little while.

Thanks again for all the advice!

Micah

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Well - It starts!!! YEA!

Hard to describe, but the starter sounds like it turns "faster" than the old one. Starts quickly too. Upon listening to the mechanic, I'm glad that I didn't try this one myself.

Wheel balancing made a huge improvement too. Very smooth now up to 80 mph. Still a little front end vibration at 80, but I rarely ever go that fast (Honest, officer!).

Turning the rotors solved the braking vibration as well (just the front were turned).

It's now very smooth!

Next two items - my radio display has now gone all funky. It's not all the time, sometimes it displays correctly, but it is very annoying when it shows weird. I figure that it'll continue to get worse. 2nd - low idle. It only idles low (in my opinion) when in gear, for instance, sitting at a stop light when at operating temperature, no AC. It will sometimes idle at 400 rpms, but it idles smoothly, not lumpy and no weird vibration. Weird huh? I thought I'd Seafoam it and see if that made any difference. When the AC is on, idle increases to about 700 ish.

Any way, if I ask another question about this, I'll start a new thread, especially after I search a bit for other's experiences.

Thanks for everyone's help and input!

Micah

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