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Old 10-24-2004, 10:31 PM
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Starter not engaging

I have an '81 vette that sometimes starts and sometimes doesn't start. When I first started having problems I could hear the solenoid engage, but not the starter (it made a single "clank" noise). I eventually replaced both the starter and solenoid by ruling out the battery and any connection problems. I did check the starter before installation and everything was fine. However, I'm having the same problem again, but now after a couple of times of hearing the "clank" noise, I hear and get nothing at all. All connections are good and the battery is good as well. Could the anti-theft system of the '81 be creaping into play here with the starter interrupt relay? I was able to get it started this last time by disconnecting the negative cable from the battery and removing the fuses to the anti-theft system. After a little time and replacement of these it started right up. Could this be a coincidence? I'd like to check out the interrupt relay; however, I do not know where it is located on the car, any help with the location of this or any other diagnosis?

Thanks in advance,
Frustrated William!
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Old 10-25-2004, 01:03 AM
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Ignition switch

[size=3]Doc here

The ignition switch is notorious For failing on these models of Corvette on the "Start" side...Corrosion is a BIG Factor on Vette Wiring So be sure it is all clean...mine was doing the EXACT SAME thing...lights..camera...no action...Starter would not cut in..everything else came to life...The tip off was they didn't die (go out) when I turned it to start...as it should have.

To rule out the starter, solenoid, battery connections, next time it happens, jumper the S terminal of the solenoid to the main Battery Post on the solenoid..If it cranks it's good...If not, it's shim time!

The Anti theft system I think (therefore I have headaches) , If I remember correctly, Is in the left or right rear Fender well..there should be an access door for it...look to see if one is there.

The relay should be located in the center console mid point on the left side (about where low would be on an automatic) Should be a Square Green relay just "hanging" off a harness going aft ... Two blue wires going to one terminal , a green I think, and a black...(at least that's the lo~cal on my 80)

Let me know what you find!

Doc
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Old 10-25-2004, 08:20 AM
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Doc,

Just a couple of questions on your reply.

First, with the same problem you had on your '80, was it the ignition switch? If so, what procedure did you use to diagnos this being the problem rather than the relay?

Second, what did you mean by 'If not, it's shim time!'. Are you referring to shims being installed along with the starter?

Thanks for your quick response!

William
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Old 10-25-2004, 01:28 PM
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the fix : Long route/Short route..

[size=3]Doc here

William,

My problem on the 80 was corrosion...plain and simple!

The Switch and related harness was Dirty/Corroded and would lose contact on the "High Drain" Start mode....

The starter would only Electrically engage 1 out of 3 times, The Center cluster Gauges would swing like a metronome playing the "theme to jeopardy" at a stoplight, The radio would sometimes actually work....The "Check Engine" light would Flash with each lope of the engine at idle...The only things on the system that worked with any degree of reliability were the head and tail lights!

THE LONG STORY...

What I did, was remove the center cluster, the instrument cluster on the left, The computer in the battery box,and the center console, AND removed the harness...

With electrical cleaner, and a mini Brass brush, Cleaned and burnished all the plugs, and ALL the related items they went to...

Inspected and repaired The harness for worn or frayed wires, Cleaned and repaired the Laminate Card on the Center cluster (This is a real problem area) ,

cleaned The Column Switches (Including The Ignition Switch),

and connectors, Pulled and disassembled the computer,(Don't attempt unless your familiar With CMOS/HMOS technology!)

(corrosion had ate up the Motherboard from the proximity to the battery, about 6 inches...good going Corvette engineers!! in the battery box behind the drivers seat)

installed new PROM, and buffers repaired the Board, Had to BUILD a mount system for the computer
(Corvette left it swinging in the breeze in 80) ,

ran a GROUND wire from the battery to the computer Case, Reinstalled the harness and CHECKED each and every ground for good bonding...

THE NET RESULT:

I am going on year 2 (on a daily driver) with no Electrical problems... No swinging gauges, Starts every time, No intermittent, no thrown computer codes, In fact the ONLY problems I have suffered in 2 years has been a fuse blew on the Dome light system due to a ground loop through the headlight/dome/dim system..I haven't fixed that one yet...and the regulator went south on the alternator...

Yours may not be this bad...I "Rescued " my 80 from the crusher on the way to the bone yard when I bought it...It sat outside for years...

I bought it as junk for $1500 (and it looked like it..ran like it too) and brought it to the condition you see in the avatar over 1 summer..(in all fairness I have 3 78's too ... 2 of which serve as parts cars..)

You may just need to pull the center cluster and clean there and the column area (Ignition, Turn signals)If you have corrosion (Very common in Corvette Due to the high heat from no insulation, and lack of metal inside the car) You may be surprised if you pull the cluster to see ALL the rust and corrosion on all the metal parts behind the dash...I was!

THE SHORT ROUTE:

Your problem may be just as simple as a bad switch, or The Neutral safety Switch is bad or going out of adjustment (VERY COMMON!)...or if it's a manual, the clutch Defeat switch may need replacement/adjustment...That is the short route...I would check those first, and as you do so.make note of any Corrosion..

To test the switch, just follow (what should be) The brown wire from the column To the Neutral Safety / Clutch defeat Switch...

If you have 12 volts at the column plug (you need to have someone hold it in start while it is acting up) Then go to the neutral safety /Clutch switch, if you have 12 volts in but not out...it's either shot or out of adjustment..fix or replace..

If you have 12 volts all the way to the solenoid then It's mechanical..

As far as the Shims...Yes, I meant If you replaced it and the solenoid actually Engages (Clicks) But won't drive, you may need to shim or recess it..also check for alignment of the starter..(left and right) SOME after-market starters have slightly larger mount holes and the starter can get "Canted " slightly... But I took you problem to be Electrical in nature (No click on the solenoid) ...

Sorry For the long post...
Did a lot to mine to bring it back!

PS...The anti theft System would not allow your starter to "Clank" when you first hit Start...So I'd rule that out.

After re~reading your FIRST post, It could be both mechanical or electrical...missed the part about the "Clank" which is usually mechanical..not engaging the ring gear...

Had that problem too after replacing the starter...couldn't get it to shim to save my soul...What I finally did, was got the combination of shims that were "Close" and left the starter only slightly tight...(couldn't move it by hand , but not tight)..then hit "Start a few times" and it "centered right up! Then tightened it down the rest of the way. It still operates fine too..

Hope Something here gives you some direction!!

Doc
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Last edited by docvette; 10-25-2004 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 10-25-2004, 01:54 PM
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Don't worry about the long post. I appreciate you taking the time to fully explain your points, it does help, for me at least.

I'll let you know what I find out.

Thanks again,
William
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Old 01-26-2005, 11:12 AM
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Doc, I know it's been a while, but I have only a little time to work on things with work, the holidays, and the wife's honey-doo list!

I think I may have found the problem. It's one of two possiblities: 1) I have a kill-switch that was put in before I got the car. This switch seems to be a little loose; 2) I found one of the red wires going to the starter loose at the connector inside the engine compartment. These connections were also corroded so I brushed them up and re-seated the wire coming loose from the connector. Since then I have had no problems.

I appreciate your patience and time.

William
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Old 02-03-2005, 06:12 AM
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Doc, you seem to know quite a bit, so I have a question for you. I have a 62 cadillac that wont start. It used to start then just died a month or two ago. I get power everywhere, but the start doesnt crank, not even a click. I changed out the starter and solenoid w/ professionally rebuilt ones. Installed it and turned the key, nothing. I went and connected the S terminal with the positive terminal with a screw driver and got some cranking, but not enough to turn over. Also, new battery and getting power at the coil. Any ideas?
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:42 AM
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62 caddy no start

Hello I'm new to this site but not to this business (30 yrs ,ASE Tech,Instructor) Now on the Caddy Make sure engne is in good condition.
Because other than high resistance on wires, a weak battery, a seized engine would cause engine to slowly crank or click but not crank. Especially if the starter and solenoid are new.
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