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  • Starter will not crank, but solenoid clicks

    I have a '92 240sc with the 454. When I turn the key to start, I get a click from the solenoid but the starter does not engage. After several turns of the key (maybe a dozen sometimes more) the starter will engage. Once it starts cranking, the starter usually stays engaged until the engine starts. Warm or cold, I normally have the same experience to start the engine. This week I removed the leads from the battery and ignition switch from the solenoid to look for corrosion. Found none but scrubbed them up anyway. I have checked the ground connection on the engine block and it is clean and tight (I didn't remove it). Starter/solenoid was replaced about 5 seasons ago, so I figured this to be a problem with the connection at the solenoid. Since that doesn't seem to be the issue I am not sure what to try next. Any suggestions??

  • #2
    Not an uncommon problem.
    Not a serious problem (except if you're in the middle of the lake and it won't start)
    Not always easy to track down.

    Sounds like you've addressed some of the usual suspects. Poor ground is a typical culprit but it appears as though you've checked that out. If you have a multimeter check the voltage at the hot terminal on the solenoid. Should be a strong 13V. Then check it again when cranking. I don't recall offhand what the spec should be --

    A 5-year old solenoid might also be somewhat corroded and sticky given the moist environment. You could try swapping in a known good solenoid, or at least remove the solenoid and lubricate it. IIFC there is also a relationship between the amperage draw in the starter and the correct function of the solenoid.

    Perhaps have a bench test done on the starter, especially if it's original. What else -- hmm -- maybe a load test on your battery to see if it's putting out the rated cranking amperage?

    One other thing, because it's easy to access the solenoid/starter, you can jump the battery and ignition terminals with a screwdriver to "hotwire" the starter. (I used to have to do this on a 64' Impala I once had.) If this kicks the starter each time, perhaps the issue is with the ignition wiring. The only problem with doing this is that it can actually weld the screwdriver to the terminals if you're not careful and can screw up the threads so you can't get the nuts off. But it can be a lifesaver when all you get is that unwelcomed "click."
    Last edited by wheelerd; 06-03-2012, 10:35 AM.
    "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." (Henry Louis Mencken)
    2005 X2, Viper Red, MCX, Acme 1285, PPass, rear 750 sacs, KGB, IBS, Bennett Wake Plate
    (previous) 2001 X5, 1991 TriStar 190

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    • #3
      Originally posted by MC240sc View Post
      I have a '92 240sc with the 454. When I turn the key to start, I get a click from the solenoid but the starter does not engage. After several turns of the key (maybe a dozen sometimes more) the starter will engage. Once it starts cranking, the starter usually stays engaged until the engine starts. Warm or cold, I normally have the same experience to start the engine. This week I removed the leads from the battery and ignition switch from the solenoid to look for corrosion. Found none but scrubbed them up anyway. I have checked the ground connection on the engine block and it is clean and tight (I didn't remove it). Starter/solenoid was replaced about 5 seasons ago, so I figured this to be a problem with the connection at the solenoid. Since that doesn't seem to be the issue I am not sure what to try next. Any suggestions??
      There is no way to tell if there is any corrosion without removal unless you do a voltage drop. You may as well take it apart and clean it. Only takes a few minutes.
      - Peter
      TANDEM AXLE PACKAGE - $950 DELIVERED WHEEL IMAGE
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      PM or email me for tire, wheel or package pricing.
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      • #4
        I had a similar problem with my boat, sometimes the solenoid would click and no engagement from starter motor and then when I jumped it the starter would sometimes stay engaged so I replaced the solenoid and appeared to be fixed for a while then it would start acting up again. I replaced it with a heavy duty type and again it worked for awhile, although my battery checked good several times my battery was just a little weak. I replaced it and its been good for about 25 hrs now, also installed a battery tender to ensure battery is always at 100%.
        James

        1989 MasterCraft TriStar 190 SE
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        • #5
          Originally posted by j.mccreight@hotmail.com View Post
          ..........installed a battery tender to ensure battery is always at 100%.
          Most excellent. The only way to treat a battery.... I have a bunch of them in my garage for year-around use.

          .
          93 190
          .
          Don't be a boot licker
          .

          Hose picture (internal) http://www.mastercraft.com/teamtalk/...68&postcount=8

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          ..Some of you give a whole new meaning to the phrase "another @sshole with a Mastercraft."

          RE: Thrall, Welcome to the club....
          NEW SKINS in TN... Leading Edge Marine Interior

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          • #6
            Thanks for the feedback. I removed the ground wire completely to inspect it and clean the terminals. The plastic tubing the cable runs through had some water in it - not sure if thats significant or not- the cable has no abrasions but it was sitting in water inside the tube. After re-installing the ground cable I tried the key about 20 times and the motor missed cranking twice (i.e. click of the solenoid was all I got) and each time it cranked on the next try. I can live with that...but not sure that I 'fixed' something with the ground wire...or the frequent cranking that last two days freed something up in the Sel/starter. I thought I would lubricate the solenoid as was suggested, should I just remove the component and then ???? Thanks again for the help.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by MC240sc View Post
              I thought I would lubricate the solenoid as was suggested, should I just remove the component and then ???? Thanks again for the help.
              First I would make sure that the plunger and plunger well are not gummed up or corroded. Then I would lubricate the pivot points on the engagement arm. Check the spring too to make sure it isn't broken (very unlikely) or binding on something.
              "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." (Henry Louis Mencken)
              2005 X2, Viper Red, MCX, Acme 1285, PPass, rear 750 sacs, KGB, IBS, Bennett Wake Plate
              (previous) 2001 X5, 1991 TriStar 190

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              • #8
                The Starter simply needs to be rebuilt complete with relay/solenoid.
                The plunger has to strike the main contacts of positive battery cable stud and starter stud with a large copper washer & missing enough copper from the washer, it can't get a good hit.

                It's probably at it's useful end, it basically needs to weld to make contact - if voltage is low - this will only make cooking it a little easier -

                GM starters are easy to rebuild before they get tortured into fry mode, then it's too late.
                A rebuilt outright are not that much - keep the old one - rebuild it at leisure for a spare.
                Pickup a brush & bushing kit.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Philscbx View Post
                  The Starter simply needs to be rebuilt complete with relay/solenoid.
                  The starter/solenoid is only 5 years old according to the OP. Unless it has been submersed in water or otherwise abused I wouldn't be replacing BOTH the starter and solenoid until I had followed up first on some of the suggestions above. Or, as I suggested earlier, at least have the unit bench tested. Simply replacing parts at $200 a pop shouldn't be the first option IMHO.
                  "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." (Henry Louis Mencken)
                  2005 X2, Viper Red, MCX, Acme 1285, PPass, rear 750 sacs, KGB, IBS, Bennett Wake Plate
                  (previous) 2001 X5, 1991 TriStar 190

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wheelerd View Post
                    Simply replacing parts at $200 a pop shouldn't be the first option IMHO.
                    Simple Inspection will cost roughly 3 beers, parts/maybe $35, that's what rebuild means, but necessary pulling it apart/reassemble is basic service and required annually to remove it and lube bushings and clean out the grindings that naturally occur.

                    Fifty starters go through 50 different conditions.
                    A 454 is a severe heavy load for any starter.
                    I've rebuilt hundreds from the smallest to some too heavy to budge off the bench.
                    Low voltage is the primary problem- is a relay/solenoids worst conditions for internal damage to its contacts.

                    Older batteries may show 12-13volts, but only be 50% capacity.
                    Better battery chargers show the capacity. It's all I use.
                    Severe voltage drop is the outcome the second relay engages if it falls below 10v.

                    Battery & Starter need to be in prime shape to function properly.
                    Re-hitting key several times to get a decent relay hit to the brushes is not normal/accepted is the problem.

                    One other issue - battery cables - any weakness - corrosion feeding up the copper from crimp zone - Problems from using too small a gauge & distance contribute voltage drop.
                    But I'm sure it will get sorted out- Embarrassment on the water vs the driveway is usually dramatic - possibly danger.
                    Last edited by Philscbx; 06-04-2012, 11:59 AM. Reason: clarify

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                    • #11
                      Take a set of jumper cables and go from your battery to your solenoid in place of your positive cable. Then do the same with your negative cable. That may tell you if one or both of your cables are bad.

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                      • #12
                        I think the problem is mostly solved. Attention to the solenoid and both battery cables seems to have done the trick, I tried it with about a dozen starts two separate times today and it hit every time. I did put a meter on the solenoid and am getting about 12.6 volts at rest and 11.15 volts when engaged. Does anyone know if that is in the normal range? Unfortunately I didn't do that check before I began so I don't know where I was initially.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MC240sc View Post
                          I think the problem is mostly solved. Attention to the solenoid and both battery cables seems to have done the trick, I tried it with about a dozen starts two separate times today and it hit every time. I did put a meter on the solenoid and am getting about 12.6 volts at rest and 11.15 volts when engaged. Does anyone know if that is in the normal range? Unfortunately I didn't do that check before I began so I don't know where I was initially.
                          .5 voltage drop is okay in the starting circuit.
                          James

                          1989 MasterCraft TriStar 190 SE
                          sigpic

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MC240sc View Post
                            I think the problem is mostly solved.
                            Good to hear.
                            Electrical issues on a boat are the most common . . . and most frustrating . . . problem because they're often hard to track down. Starting troubles and gauge malfunctions are the two most common problems. And of course, when the boat won't start in the middle of the lake you can't just walk home!
                            "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." (Henry Louis Mencken)
                            2005 X2, Viper Red, MCX, Acme 1285, PPass, rear 750 sacs, KGB, IBS, Bennett Wake Plate
                            (previous) 2001 X5, 1991 TriStar 190

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MC240sc View Post
                              problem is mostly solved.
                              meter on solenoid
                              12.6 volts at rest and 11.15 volts when engaged.
                              Good Job - Battery in good shape as well.

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