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Kopycinski's Brain: Starter Woes & Fixes

Posted in How To on July 1, 2012 Comment (0)
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You hop into your rig and turn the key, expecting your engine to turn over and come to life. However, all you hear is a click-click sound from under the hood. Was that a slow sounding turn of the motor or maybe an intermittent starting you had experienced a week ago? Well, now the starter just doesn’t want to turn and you’re going nowhere.

There are several points of failure in your starting system that could be causing you trouble. Don’t immediately assume the starter is bad. A poorly charged or failing battery could be the cause, as could corrosion on terminals or degraded battery/starter cables.

A starter motor with a piggyback solenoid such as this Nippondenso one will have two electrical connections. A large stud connects to a heavy cable running to the positive side of the battery. A smaller stud is connected to the ignition switch. When 12 volts is applied to this terminal, the solenoid closes and connects battery power to the starter motor terminal.

A second path of failure can be the 12V signal not making its way from the ignition switch (or associated relay) to the starter solenoid. To check if this path is functioning, simply use a scrap piece of wire to jump from the positive battery terminal to the small stud on the starter solenoid. If there is still no response from the starter, then it is probably at fault.

Once you decide the starter is the culprit, you may decide to rebuild it yourself rather than getting a replacement. The most common wear parts on a starter are the two large copper contacts in the solenoid used to connect battery voltage to the starter motor. Sometimes these contacts can be replaced for a fraction of the cost of a rebuilt or new starter, and many of the other internal parts will continue to function fine for many miles.

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