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'63 suddenly doesn't want to crank


JDRiv

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Had the Riv out for a drive today. No problems. Parked it in the driveway for a few hours. Went out to put it in the garage and..."click." Warning lights come on with the key in the "on" position, but when I turn the key to start, I hear a single click under the hood but the starter doesn't crank the engine. Any ideas on how to diagnose or troubleshoot would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,

JD

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Start with the easy stuff that could go wrong. Battery cables to the horn relay may be loose, the starter wires may be corroded or grounding out somehow. If all the wired connections check out fine then you may have to rebuild or replace the starter.

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Mine did the same thing. Turned out to be the battery itself. Had enough power to crank when it was cold, but it was like you unhooked the cable when the car was warm. How old and what size is your battery? The battery box and the car itself are designed to carry a 27 series battery, not the smaller and more popular 24 series. 27 series batteries are used in Cadillacs and big cars with a lot of electrical draw, like our Rivieras. I put a new 27 series in mine and it cured the problem.

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When looking for a battery, take a look at the 27F. When installed it will put the positive post closer to the radiator. On the 27, the positive post is closer to the fender and the inner frame of the hood. Ask me how I know what kind of short will occur if the positive post comes in contact with the hood. :eek:

If you look at pictures of an OE '63 engine compartment, it's pretty easy to identify the positive post next to the radiator with the cable running between the filler caps. It seem that now days is seems more logical to install the + cable next to the fender and the - cable next to the radiator so they don't cross over each other.

I'll take my chances with the crossover anytime compared to the big short (everything from the firewall forward) that the neg post touching the hood caused. Probably would have gone farther, but an after market amp meter blew and saved everything beyond it.

Rivieras have a hot start problem as well. If the armature in the starter motor gets too hot, it will expand inside the housing and you won't be able to crank the motor. You'll get the same symptoms as you've described. Next time that happens, pour a pail of cool water over the starter motor and see if it won't crank. If so, have the starter rewound. I had my starter rewound to specs the guys who rebuilt it called "Hi-torque" specs. No problems since.

Ed

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Good call by riomar000. Had time today to tighten the connections on the horn relay and the starter itself. Solved the problem. Thanks to all for the information and advice. It will surely come in handy. I'm bringing this baby back from the edge so it's only a matter of time before I'll need to replace the battery and/or the starter. It's a great feeling to know that when you have one of those days, there are lots of willing, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic people that will help you work through it. Thank you!

JD

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