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Old 01-01-2011, 10:45 PM
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Chevy starter solenoid problems

Hey petrolheads. Ive just started experiencing some problems with my starter motor on my 400ci sbc. The headers are quite tight and I have no doubt the heat has been the cause of my problems. From time to time when I try the ignition key I just get a click sound, classic sticking solenoid from my understanding. What I don't understand is how is does it when it's cold sometimes also. I was told they only do it when hot, is that not the case or is it possible something else is wrong? If I keep flicking the key it will eventually engage, bit embarrassing though when people are looking over your pride and joy and you got to turn the key a dozen times! It is a reduction starter I bought from a speed shop, but was a no-name brand and have since found out is a chinese copy of the better brands. In saying that it does have loads of cranking power on my high comp 400ci, when it decides to engage that is. Can the solenoids be fixed, or is it a case of throw away and get a new starter?

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Old 01-01-2011, 10:49 PM
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Run a ground from battery to block and another from block to frame.
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Old 01-01-2011, 10:59 PM
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The Solenoid also acts as a relay. If you take the solenoid apart you will find a copper disk that get burnt in a one or more spots sometimes.
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Old 01-01-2011, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleVision
Run a ground from battery to block and another from block to frame.
Battery is in the boot and has big earth cable to body, block also has big earth cable to body.
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:35 AM
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Depending on the exact design of the solenoid, the contacts can sometimes be turned 180° to expose a new surface for the disc to make contact with.

This is done by disassembling the solenoid and removing the terminals then rotating them before securing them and reassembling the solenoid.

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Old 01-02-2011, 08:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Holdon
Battery is in the boot and has big earth cable to body, block also has big earth cable to body.
as doublevision said,frame grounding is a big item in cars.had your problem in my car,did what dbv is suggesting,cleared it up. selenoid is another good suggestion.larry
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:12 PM
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Your description sounds just like a solenoid that has carbon and pits on the lugs; the picture shows the back side and the arrows are pointing to the lugs.

A disk pulls down onto those lugs making contact and providing a path or completing the circuit to the starter motor.

One of those lugs has the battery cable attached the other goes to the starter motor. If the lugs are pitted and burned, from use, it induces resistance and drops the voltage to a point that the starter will not turn over

When you keep hitting the switch that disk will clean up enough from banging around, energizing and de energizing and will eventually make contact and turn over.

The solenoid is a relay and the disk pulls down onto the two lugs. You could remove the solenoid and clean the disk and lugs. It is a repairable piece, if you want to go that route, me I'd just replace the solenoid.

But before you pull the starter, I am assuming that you know that your battery cables are in good shape .. correct?
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:31 AM
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Holdon, Try is setup and It works for me. I came up with this idea for my car.
I had trouble starting it up after it was running for a while. Could not get it to crank. The starter would not engage.
http://www.longislandchevelles.com/starter_mod.html
Take a look at Youtube.com/tunnel ram 406 crank start.

Last edited by lg1969; 01-03-2011 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 01-03-2011, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lg1969
Holdon, Try is setup and It works for me. I came up with this idea for my car.
I had trouble starting it up after it was running for a while. Could not get it to crank. The starter would not engage.
http://www.longislandchevelles.com/starter_mod.html
Take a look at Youtube.com/tunnel ram 406 crank start.
^ this. If the problem is indeed caused by heat, as you suspect, this is a good remedy.
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Old 01-07-2011, 03:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lg1969
Holdon, Try is setup and It works for me. I came up with this idea for my car.
I had trouble starting it up after it was running for a while. Could not get it to crank. The starter would not engage.
http://www.longislandchevelles.com/starter_mod.html
Take a look at Youtube.com/tunnel ram 406 crank start.
Hey mate thanks for the input. One thing to note is while my problem may have been caused by heat, it also does it sometimes when cold. Im just thinking that there may have been some damage caused to the solenoid by the heat from the exhaust. The other thing is mine cranks over piece of cake hot or cold once the starter engages, it just has this horrible click noise from time to time like the solenoid is sticking, i keep trying the key and eventually it will engage and spin over fine. Will have a chat to my auto sparky about your idea anyway and see what he thinks, thanks heaps for your ideas.
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Old 01-07-2011, 04:29 AM
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Hi

I'd like to bring in another angle. Are correct starter bolts (shaft thickness & knurled) being used and is the flexplate/starter gear tooth in correct tolerances?

If proper bolts are not being used or the tolerance between the teeth is not correct, the starter will not be held in a 100% correct orientation to the flexplate. Then, when you start, the starter gear will not engage all the way - the solenoid will move it in but not far enough to make contact with the disc mentioned above. When you try a dozen times, it will eventually mesh correctly and off you go.

This could especially be the case as you have an aftermarket starter. They sometimes (often?) have metric bolt holes. Therefore, you would need bolts that have a UNC thread but metric shaft thickness!
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Old 01-07-2011, 08:28 AM
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Here is a quote from me that I posted on another thread on this site. It may answer your question about the 'clicking' of the ignition switch and the solenoid. It is an easy item to check and and even easier fix. This was on a stock '62 Chevy longroof.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frisco
Got in the car to go to my other buddy's house to work on his 'T' roadster pickup. (see Jerry's 'T' in my photo album). Turned the ignition key and it just clicked. Bummer. Called Jerry to take me to the parts store to get a starter solenoid. Jacked the car up. Removed the passenger side exhaust pipe to get the starter off. pulled the old solenoid off the starter motor. Went to the parts store. Bought a new solenoid. Drove home. Installed the solenoid, starter and re-connected the exhaust. Let the jack down. Got in the car, turned the ignition switch and...CLICK. Jacked the car back up. Removed the exhaust pipe. Removed the starter. Removed the new solenoid from the starter. Took the starter to the auto parts store and bought a replacement. Got there just at closing time. Drove back home. Installed the new solenoid to the new starter motor. This time I connected some jumper cables to the new un-installed starter to the battery in Jerry's car to test it. Worked great. Crawled back under the car. Re-installed the starter. Re-connected the exhaust. It was dark now so it was difficult to see what I was doing. Let the jack back down. Got in the car. Turned the ignition switch and.......CLICK. What the HEY? The hood was open. Jerry was at the front of the car. He said to me, "Wait a minute." Then he said, "OK try it now." I turned the ignition switch. VROOM!!!!

After dark when attempting to start the engine, Jerry noticed a small spark and some smoke at one of the battery terminals. He removed the battery cable and scraped the inside of the terminal and the outside of the battery post. he then re-connected the battery cable. All was well.

Another lesson learned. Note to myself. Keep it simple stupid.
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Old 01-07-2011, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frisco
Here is a quote from me that I posted on another thread on this site. It may answer your question about the 'clicking' of the ignition switch and the solenoid. It is an easy item to check and and even easier fix. This was on a stock '62 Chevy longroof.
Know exactly where you are coming from thanks mate, but one of the first things I did was check the battery terminals. Everything is tight there. One other point I should make is that the starter never used to have any problems, but one night after cruising town with lights on and stereo going I noticed my battery wasnt charging. My feed wire from the alternator wasnt of thick enough guage and had melted in half! My battery is in the boot and has a large cable up to the starter motor, this is also where it meets up with the feed wire from the alternator. I put the correct guage wire from the alternator and havent had a problem with that since, but it's only since that initial melt down that the starter has being playing up. So perhaps that contact disc mentioned by Cobolt327 did recieve some damage and needs some attention. Have just finished the wifes list of chores (phew!!) so am off to the garage to pull starter for a look right now
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Old 01-07-2011, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dryden
Hi

I'd like to bring in another angle. Are correct starter bolts (shaft thickness & knurled) being used and is the flexplate/starter gear tooth in correct tolerances?

If proper bolts are not being used or the tolerance between the teeth is not correct, the starter will not be held in a 100% correct orientation to the flexplate. Then, when you start, the starter gear will not engage all the way - the solenoid will move it in but not far enough to make contact with the disc mentioned above. When you try a dozen times, it will eventually mesh correctly and off you go.

This could especially be the case as you have an aftermarket starter. They sometimes (often?) have metric bolt holes. Therefore, you would need bolts that have a UNC thread but metric shaft thickness!
I have had this mentioned to me several times before and I have the the starter off and on several times checking clearances and trying shims. Im pretty sure it's not a clearance problem though as when once it does engauge it spins engine over nicely. Ive had tight starters before and they sound tight when cranking for a few revolutions. Also as I just noted in my last reply this starter never had any problems till I had a bit of an electrical melt down one night. Will let you know what I find, cheers.
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Holdon
one of the first things I did was check the battery terminals. Everything is tight there.
They need to be clean as well as tight. A carbon like build up will occur that will reduce and/or prevent current flow from the battery post to the battery cable clamp. This build up is easily removed with a scraping motion using a pocket knife or a good battery post/terminal wire brush. I think the scraping works better and is faster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Holdon
My battery is in the boot and has a large cable up to the starter motor, this is also where it meets up with the feed wire from the alternator. I put the correct gauge wire from the alternator and haven't had a problem with that since, but it's only since that initial melt down that the starter has being playing up. So perhaps that contact disc mentioned by Cobalt327 did receive some damage and needs some attention. Have just finished the wife's list of chores (phew!!) so am off to the garage to pull starter for a look right now
Having the battery in the boot (trunk) is OK with the correct gauge cable going from it to the starter motor. The ground (earth) cable should also be of a similar size and also be connected to the engine block. If you have the ground cable as a short connection to just the body or frame at the rear, that may not be providing a good ground.

Cobalt327 has given you excellent advise and should be checked after the obvious simple checks.
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