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The Welsh Cruiser

Starter motor or electrical problem?

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I've had this issue for 18 months or so. At first, just occasionally, I'd get a 'click' when I turned the key to start, rather than the engine turning over. This progressed somewhat over the following months to the extent that it would click most times I tried to start the engine, sometimes 2 or 3 times before the engine turned over. A spray of wd40 over the battery terminals seemed to reduce the problem somewhat. Up until now the engine has turned over most times, 'clicking' just an odd time. This morning I must have tried a dozen times, just got the click. I sprayed some wd40 over the terminals, still the click. Eventually the engine turned over, must have taken around 40 attempts.

 

The click is definitely coming from the starter motor area. I suspect the starter motor is ok and it's an electrical connection problem. Wd40 over the terminals making a positive difference seems to suggest this but I can't work out why I'm getting a click somewhere around the starter motor, if the problem lies with the battery connections.

 

Any thoughts on this? 

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it sounds like the starter motor or a solenoid but we shall soon have the experts on the case

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6 minutes ago, The Welsh Cruiser said:

I've had this issue for 18 months or so. At first, just occasionally, I'd get a 'click' when I turned the key to start, rather than the engine turning over. This progressed somewhat over the following months to the extent that it would click most times I tried to start the engine, sometimes 2 or 3 times before the engine turned over. A spray of wd40 over the battery terminals seemed to reduce the problem somewhat. Up until now the engine has turned over most times, 'clicking' just an odd time. This morning I must have tried a dozen times, just got the click. I sprayed some wd40 over the terminals, still the click. Eventually the engine turned over, must have taken around 40 attempts.

 

The click is definitely coming from the starter motor area. I suspect the starter motor is ok and it's an electrical connection problem. Wd40 over the terminals making a positive difference seems to suggest this but I can't work out why I'm getting a click somewhere around the starter motor, if the problem lies with the battery connections.

 

Any thoughts on this? 

To begin with, take the battery lugs of the posts and clean them thoroghly inside and out with wire brush course paper, wire wool and see if that fixes it.

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Some things I tried when I had the dreaded click. I just bought a replacement in the end, so never got to the bottom of it. Hopefully @Sir Nibble will chip in.

 

 

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Clean and check all the connections on the starter battery, isolator switch, & starter motor.

Check that the small terminal on the starter motor solenoid ( the bit the wires go to ) is clean and tight. May be a push on Lucar type.

If you have the red detachable key type of isolator switch, rack it off and on a few times, they are rubbish and get lazy contacts.

There is a possibility that your ignition switch contacts are dirty or burnt if it seems that the key has to be twisted further to get the click than usual.

 

The click is the solenoid trying to pull in. It will fail to engage the starter if you have a bad connection or the battery is failing or flat.

It could be faulty but unlikely.

 

If none of the above work, tell us what the engine is.

Edited by Boater Sam

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It may be possible to dismantle the solenoid and clean the contacts. That sorted our old BMC when it was clicking.

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13 minutes ago, bizzard said:

To begin with, take the battery lugs of the posts and clean them thoroghly inside and out with wire brush course paper, wire wool and see if that fixes it.

Agreed. Plus the fat negative lead that goes to the engine. Then the big fat wire that connects to the solenoid - ensure that’s clean and tight too. 
 

I recall helping out a lady with a Mini that wouldn’t start, back in the early 70’s. She was looking all frustrated and upset in a car park. I looked in the boot and the ‘earth’ braid from the battery was just hanging on by a couple of strands. I bodged it for her with no tools and it started as sprightly as anything. 

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You get the click somewhere around the starter motor because either the solenoid or the starter motor itself is trying to engage and cannot. The click you hear is either of those components trying to move to do it's job and failing.

 

Down to possibilities. Bad connections. Follow all leads from the starter battery through and clean all connections. Then check the engine earth and battery earth undo and clean those connections. If all the electrical connections are clean and tight and it still clicks then either the solenoid is sticking or the starter motor bendix gear is sticking. That will require at least taking those components off the engine and giving them a thorough clean and lubrication. Lastly it could be a bad battery or a bad solenoid or a bad starter motor. Oh and when you are checking connections check the battery isolator. I have had those symptoms when the starter motor battery isolator is either gunked up or starting to break down. I hope your isolators are in a more accessable place than mine were.

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If WD-40 has helped then that's a first! It sounds like the usual Nippon denso solenoid contact problem. If you can show a picture of the starter it would help. If that's the case then the repair is well within the scope of DIY.

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I have had these symptoms due to volt drop on the low current cables, ie. switch to solenoid, the 12 volt high current connections were fine 

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Just now, ditchcrawler said:

I have had these symptoms due to volt drop on the low current cables, ie. switch to solenoid, the 12 volt high current connections were fine 

Seems particularly common on Bosch starters.

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3 minutes ago, Sir Nibble said:

Seems particularly common on Bosch starters.

A typical Nazi trick, as Cpt Mainwaring would say.

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To clarify things. I would normally describe the noise the actual starter solenoid as more of a clunk than a click unless there is low voltage as referenced by others. I associate click with the remote car type starter solenoids that are sometimes used to energise the  starter solenoid to reduce the loading on the ignition switch and voltdrop on longer cable runs. So have a good look around close to the starter to see if the heavy cable running to the starter motor connects to a another small solenoid close by.

 

If there is no remote solenoid then if its an old starter it might be one worn bush making intermittent contact. That would reduce the current flow and maybe  cause a lighter click.

 

If it is a heavy sounding clunk then without any age info the I agree with suspect solenoid contacts.

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40 minutes ago, Boater Sam said:

Clean and check all the connections on the starter battery, isolator switch, & starter motor.

 

Sound advice.  Seen many cars do this and 95% of the time it just a dirty/bad connection at the battery. Cleaning that usually takes care of it.  Its rare but when that doesn't work the issue is at the connection to the starter itself.  So removing those and cleaning them usually fixes it.  

 

REMEMBER to disconnect the cable at the batter before messing with the starter connections.

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33 minutes ago, Sir Nibble said:

Seems particularly common on Bosch starters.

I have never looked to see what make my starter is

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56 minutes ago, WotEver said:

Agreed. Plus the fat negative lead that goes to the engine. Then the big fat wire that connects to the solenoid - ensure that’s clean and tight too. 
 

I recall helping out a lady with a Mini that wouldn’t start, back in the early 70’s. She was looking all frustrated and upset in a car park. I looked in the boot and the ‘earth’ braid from the battery was just hanging on by a couple of strands. I bodged it for her with no tools and it started as sprightly as anything. 

It was particularly important to keep that earth strap in good condition on the mini as it had to hold the battery in place when the bottom rusted out of the battery box. ?

  • Haha 2

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1 hour ago, The Welsh Cruiser said:

I've had this issue for 18 months or so. At first, just occasionally, I'd get a 'click' when I turned the key to start, rather than the engine turning over. This progressed somewhat over the following months to the extent that it would click most times I tried to start the engine, sometimes 2 or 3 times before the engine turned over. A spray of wd40 over the battery terminals seemed to reduce the problem somewhat. Up until now the engine has turned over most times, 'clicking' just an odd time. This morning I must have tried a dozen times, just got the click. I sprayed some wd40 over the terminals, still the click. Eventually the engine turned over, must have taken around 40 attempts.

 

The click is definitely coming from the starter motor area. I suspect the starter motor is ok and it's an electrical connection problem. Wd40 over the terminals making a positive difference seems to suggest this but I can't work out why I'm getting a click somewhere around the starter motor, if the problem lies with the battery connections.

 

Any thoughts on this? 

What make and age of engine are you trying to start?

 

Bod

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3 minutes ago, dmr said:

It was particularly important to keep that earth strap in good condition on the mini as it had to hold the battery in place when the bottom rusted out of the battery box. ?

MGB's too, two 6v batteries under the rear seat squab. Rotten boxes and dragging a battery along the road by its cable. Many new battery boxes I've had to weld into those.

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1 hour ago, Tony Brooks said:

To clarify things. I would normally describe the noise the actual starter solenoid as more of a clunk than a click unless there is low voltage as referenced by others. I associate click with the remote car type starter solenoids that are sometimes used to energise the  starter solenoid to reduce the loading on the ignition switch and voltdrop on longer cable runs. So have a good look around close to the starter to see if the heavy cable running to the starter motor connects to a another small solenoid close by.

 

If there is no remote solenoid then if its an old starter it might be one worn bush making intermittent contact. That would reduce the current flow and maybe  cause a lighter click.

 

If it is a heavy sounding clunk then without any age info the I agree with suspect solenoid contacts.

 

So very crap info there. Re a remote solenoid.

 

Although most boats control the stater solenoid direct from the ignition switch/push button some may use a car type remote solenoid or a relay close to the starter. Look for the thinner cable on a SINGLE connection and follow this back. If it comes to a box thing before disappearing into the harness the "box" thing is likely to be a relay or emote solenoid. The "box" if you have one will also have two thick cables on it.

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1 hour ago, dmr said:

It was particularly important to keep that earth strap in good condition on the mini as it had to hold the battery in place when the bottom rusted out of the battery box. ?

My Vauxhall Viva gave a very loud clunk and whirr once when starting it. A delve under the bonnet revealed that the starter motor had fallen off and hit the ground.

  • Haha 1

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Is it a Vetus by any chance.  If it is then it is likely the fault lies with the little black box on the back of the engine. This contains two relays, one for the heaters the other for the starter solenoid.   Jiggling the relay will clear the problem, following by a good clean-up of the terminals at a more convenient time.

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2 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

So very crap info there. Re a remote solenoid.

 

Although most boats control the stater solenoid direct from the ignition switch/push button some may use a car type remote solenoid or a relay close to the starter. Look for the thinner cable on a SINGLE connection and follow this back. If it comes to a box thing before disappearing into the harness the "box" thing is likely to be a relay or emote solenoid. The "box" if you have one will also have two thick cables on it.

That's how I got over mu problem, a relay right by the starter

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On 08/01/2020 at 12:32, The Welsh Cruiser said:

Any thoughts on this? 

Did you fix it then?

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