Friday, January 29, 2010

"sticky" starter solenoid

Ok. 1988 Camry 4 cylinder, 230,000 kms. I'm having a problem with what I've concluded to be the starter or something related. This is an intermittent problem, it happens time to time, like 1 out of 5 starts. When I go to turn the car over nothing happens, the dash lights come on but I dont hear the solenoid tick. Ive been through 3 starters, the first (original) the bendix assembly jammed and the second and third have this problem.

The only way I can get it to start is if I have someone hold the ignition while I "tap" the motor with a hammer. Its almost as if the solenoid "sticks" and needs more voltage to turn it over. I first though it was the starter motor itself, but Ive ruled that out, I connected the two terminals together and the motor spins free, If I dont tap the starter beforehand I cant get the car to start, but the starter motor spins freely. Its only once I have tapped the starter with a hammer that the solenoid will engage.

To date I have: tried 2 different starters, the latest one I bought is "refurbished"- cleaned ALL the grounds, motor, fender, and the battery tray ground. All of them were cleaned with steel wool and degreased. It helped, the car didnt do it for 2 days then it started again. I dont know if its a voltage problem, but it wouldnt make sense seeing as I can only get it to start by tapping the starter so I didnt bother to check the voltages.Is there something I'm missing? its a stupid problem, does anyone know what it could be? Or any suggestions on how to fix it?

If you got one click, I'd say the contacts in the solenoid were bad. No clicks makes me think that the starter relay should be looked at.

Listen carefully for that 1 click when the starter does not turn. If you do hear the 1 click, then it is most likely the starter solenoid contacts problem that is fairly common. The 1 click would be the starter relay activating and sending voltage to the starter's solenoid, however, the solenoid is not passing the voltage along to the starter. Do a search on this site for "starter contacts" and read up on the problem. It has been covered numerous times.

If you do not hear the 1 click, then I would agree that it might be the starter relay. For a test, see if there is an identical relay for a non-essential item that you can switch out with the starter relay. Then drive the car for a couple of days like this and see if the problem goes away. If it does, you know you need another relay. If no other relay is available, you just may have to buy another relay to test it out.Mike

So if banging the starter gets it to work EVERY time, you suspect battery cables or an ignition switch huh? It seems to me that it's a starter problem. Installing cheap parts means nothing from a diagnostic standpoint.Banging the starter has nothing to do with electrical connections, cables, batteries, ignition switches, etc. as they will not be influenced by the starter being struck.Replace the starter with a high quality NEW OR REMANUFACTURED (not rebuilt or refurbished) starter.

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