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The starter gear on a Chevy is engaged using a solenoid that is mounted atop the starter. This solenoid is actually doing a couple functions when you hit the start switch. It moves the pinion gear into the ring gear and engages the contractor that switches the heavy current that supplies the motor.

When the key or switch is released the magnetic field that engaged the solenoid collapses at which point a spring the solenoid collapsed is released and moves the solenoid piston back to its rest position taking the pinion gear out of ring gear engagement and opens the high current contactor stopping the motor.

If the pinion is not retracting and if the motor continues to run then some possibilities are:

  • The ignition start switch is not cutting power to the solenoid.
  • There is a sneak circuit either in the switching or the wiring or the solenoid keeping the solenoid charged.
  • The contactor points are welding hanging up the solenoid piston.
  • The motor nose is not properly dimensioned either not fitting the install mounts properly or the pinion engagement is off because of problems with the solenoid and or the pinion engagement fork or linkage.
  • The mounting bots are an improper type not providing sufficient rigidity. Here you need to deal with GM’s partial pregnancy between USS bolt threads and Metric as well as shank fit in the starter’s mounting holes, this should be a slight interference fit, not a drops right through nor a press fit.

One early determination is to see if the motor shuts electrically off. If it’s not electrically engaged then it’s a mechanical problem. A bench test may help at least it isolate the wiring issue to not the solenoid and and gives a glimmer of hope that mechanically it can retract the pinion gear. This doesn’t eliminate installation issues be they electrical or mechanical.

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