Question: I have a '92 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer four-door 4x4 with the 4.3L V-6. The engine was replaced at about 90,000 miles with a Jasper remanufactured unit. The engine has about 55,000 miles on it now. Ever since I got it back, I've had a starter problem. After it has warmed up from driving, and is left to set for about 5-10 minutes, the starter drags really bad. I've replaced the starter three times, each time from a different automotive supply place. The last time was from a very reputable place (NAPA). I've replaced the starter cable from the battery to the solenoid, as well as replaced the ground cable. I even installed the spacer that I received on the starter from NAPA, thinking that when it got warm, the starter would expand and be pushed further into the flywheel. That didn't help, either. I even replaced the battery.
I have taken the Blazer to two different repair locations and run tests on it, and no one can come up with a logical reason. One test said "battery bad" due to a high voltage drop, but when they test the battery by itself, the voltage is high enough that says the battery is OK. I had one guy say it was the starter, and tore it apart, put new bushings in it, checked the armature and fields, said it was fine, put it back together and it didn't help. I am fairly intelligent in most automotive problems, but this one has got me severely stumped. I would appreciate any help, suggestions, and/or ideas.
Answer: First, we have to determine if the starter is actually dragging or if it is not getting full voltage. Find a shop that has an amp probe and a mechanic who knows how to use it. This is a high-dollar voltmeter that clamps onto the battery-to-starter cable and measures the amp draw of the starter.
If it is drawing more amps than the starter is rated at, then for some reason you have a drag. This drag could be induced from the starter getting hot or a misalignment. Let's take the heat issue first. Did you by chance change out the original exhaust manifolds for a set of headers, or perhaps just a new header pipe that is in a different location than the original? Could this be radiating heat into the starter? Chevy starters are readily noted for having starting problems from heat. Several places such as Summit Racing (www.summitracing.com) offer many different styles of starter heatshields.
Another solution is with a Starter Solenoid Kit. What you're doing is mounting a second solenoid on the firewall and running the battery cable to it first, and then down to the starter. You then run the wire that originally ran from the ignition key to the OE starter solenoid to this new solenoid, and add a special bypass wire on to the old solenoid. Now, when you turn the key, full amperage goes to the starter and none of it has to go through the ignition switch for starter engagement.
Now the problem could also be a major misalignment of the starter's teeth with the flywheel. You have to remove the dust cover to check this out. With the proper tool (a screwdriver usually works), move the starter's pinion gear into contact with the flywheel's teeth. The proper clearance between the teeth is somewhere between the thickness of a paperclip's wire thickness. You can buy a shim kit that has various thicknesses of shims that can be placed between the starter and the engine block under the mounting bolts. Their placement will depend on whether the starter's pinion gear needs to be moved closer or further away from the flywheel's teeth.
Question: I just read "Willie's Workbench" (Nov. '06) and I have some additional info on thick Dana 44 covers, since I have a '74 IH 100 1/2-ton and a '75 IH 200 3/4-ton pickups, as well as a '78 Scout II.
I bought two very thick (0.160-plus-inch at the flange) covers available from Complete Off Road (www.completeoffroad.com). This is one heavy-duty cover for $25. IH didn't make that many pickups, especially the '74-'75 models, and I hate to see the IH rigs unnecessarily scrapped just for its diff covers. The fill hole is about 1/2 inch higher than the diff covers that came on my Scout II. I didn't have a use for the tab that is spot-welded near the top so I ground it off. Duck soup!
Answer: Thanks for the info-I really appreciate help from readers, and it also tells me that some people actually read what I write ... well, at least once in a while.
Question: In response to your recent "Cherokee 2.8L Swap Options" question, I also have an '86 XJ with the 2.8L factory engine. I checked the Internet and found several articles on swapping in the 3.4L V-6 from a '93-'95 Camaro. It is dimensionally the same block. All the factory components can be bolted on; the only hurdles were modifying the flexplate and getting the carburetor adjusted.
Since the 2.8L is externally balanced and the 3.4L internally balanced, the 2.8L flexplate has to be modified and balanced. Since the Jeep uses a Chrysler 904 transmission, a Chevy flexplate cannot be used. I was able to drill/knock off the extra weight and drill some holes that brought my balance to neutral. I checked it on a wheel balancer.
The carb is a little different, as there weren't any aftermarket parts for the Varijet, so I just used a TBI intake from an S-10 along with all the electronics. The throttle body itself will need larger injectors (ideally from a 305), or you could swap in a throttle body from a 4.3L or 5.0L GM truck. The throttle bore is larger, so it takes some enlarging of the intake, but it works pretty good.
It is also possible to get a 3.4L directly from a GM dealer, and there was at least one company that offers kits to stroke the 2.8 to a 3.4. I added a Crane Cam and I now have decent power, room in my engine compartment, and reliable Chevy power. I also ended up adding a better radiator-the factory one-row unit couldn't keep up on the highway with 33s, even with 4.10:1 gears. I don't mind the 4.0L, but it is a big heavy engine that leaves little room in the bay of an XJ.
Answer: Thanks for the good word on the 3.4 swap. We always appreciate it when readers help us out on problems. You've covered the subject much better than we did. We like the ingenious way that you balanced the flexplate.