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rrs814

Starter...Ignition...Relay?? '90 non-starting issue

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ABOUT every 6th attempt, I'll turn key, get "click" but no start. Then-key off then back on and it starts. I'm 80% certain dashlights come on when I get the click but no starty. -- Engine was recently rebuilt, and I DO have wet wire issue under seats, so ?? - I DID check other threads, but didn't see this. THANKS!

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Is the click a clunk from under the hood like the solenoid in the starter motor cutting in, or is it a light click like the security system relay making under the dash?

Some more info on the whereabouts of the click would be most helpful. Lots of clicks will take place when the key is turned from off to run. Not so many when turned from run to start. But the important is the solenoid in the starter.

Dash lights should come on when key is turned to run but go out when turned to start and come back on when released back to run.

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I just tried to re-enact the trouble, and...of course...when you WANT it to malfunction....FORGET IT!

----FROM MEMORY - I'm thinking the "click" is electronic, from the column (?) or dash (?).... the dashlights (at least the lower "idiot lights") go on when this happens (99% certain it's not a voltage problem), but nothing but the click, and it won't begin to turn over. Turn key off....try again...and it starts right up.

Keep in mind, I'm having wiring problems (under seats) from flooding, and TOTAL engine rebuild 300 miles ago. T H A N K S!!!

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Doubt the wires under the seats have anything to do with this problem. You may be hearing the theft deterrent relay making under the dash that allows the solenoid in the starter motor to operate.

Intermittent problems are tough to troubleshoot.

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Sounds like a failing ignition switch. Does the dash go blank when you turn to start ?

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if the dash goes blank when trying to start it could be a poor battery connection. Trying to start will pull enough amps to draw and drain the system causing all lights and everything to go out. Id check the battery connections first then the starter connection and try to have someone attempt to start it and tap the starter as they hold the IGN to START (of corse while it's NOT starting lol) just to rule out the starter. A bad starter solenoid or burnt contact on the starter brush contacts could be to blame, maybe the solenoid bumps it just right that it'll start after awhile or the solenoid finally kicks in and starts it, tapping the solenoid may jump start it. never overlook the basics

Edited by Recian (see edit history)

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Also --- if the screen goes blank It's good too. It comes back on when you return from the crank the switch is doing its job and the starter is failing (headdlights will tell the same story off on crank) Can't ccnk no more-gotto go! A good 2 to 3 whaps with a good MAC brand Kerwanger on the starter would loosen a stuck strater brush for the last round to the shop.

I don't believe there is a starter relay-I'm not certain, some GM's do however. You need to install a test light to the solinoid wire (an old parking light bulb fished under the wiper space to see) to see if the starter is getting juice when it fails. If juice, it's the starter

Edited by rjfranken (see edit history)

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Did it once last night out of 5 or 6 starts---- key ON, electronic (pretty sure) click , all gages go off - lower left Inf rest RED and sec YELLOW ON, and serv engine YELLOW on - but NO start.

Turn OFF, try again - all OK and it starts.

Since it's intermittent, what would you do? I will check/snug-up battery connections, but (obviously) it doesn't happen frequently enough to pin down.

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There's only 5 things in this circuit. Since you're not hearing the clunk of the starter solenoid under the hood and not having to jiggle the gearshift lever to get it to kick in, I'd eliminate the starter and transaxle position switch for the time being.

That leaves the ignition switch, the starter enable relay and the passkey module. The kick you hear under the dash could be the relay or the passkey module or it could be another relay that drops out when the ignition switch goes into start and comes back when it goes back to run. So there is no guarantee that you are hearing that starter relay click.

If you want to track this intermittent issue down before you end up stranded, I'd get down under the dash and hook up a trouble light to the yellow wire that goes from the ignition switch to the starter enable relay (there is a splice down there where you can clip one end) and ground the other end. Tape the light somewhere where you can see it easily when you're starting the car and when you turn the key and get a no start, see if that light is on or not. That will tell you if it is the ignition switch or not. If that turns out to be OK then move it to the other side of the starter enable relay and check the passkey module is working, and then that the starter enable relay is passing the current thru it. If the current passes thru the starter enable relay it's either the wire to the starter solenoid or the starter.

Another option would just be to replace the starter enable relay once you know the ignition switch is OK (not that expensive) and if problem still remains then it is either the starter solenoid or the passkey system.

Passkey system problem can be with the chip in the key, the contacts and fine wires in the ignition switch and column, or the module itself.

Since the ignition switch and the passkey pickup both have mechanical components to them, I'm leaning towards them as being the culprit. I think it would occur more often it it was purely electrical, but you never know.

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My instinct says ignition switch. Could run a DVM to the solenoid "S" terminal and see if it is getting 12v when you try to start.

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THANKS very much. I'm not going to attempt repair, but I'll print ALL advice for my tech. You guys rule! If I were in my 30's it'd be "rock".....dunno about the 20 somethings...........

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Guest Telco

I don't know when it started but GM has had a problem with those plastic coated battery terminals for years. There is a lead washer inside that distorts, and can cause intermittent problems. Try tightening the positive terminal a bit and see if it clears the problem. If it does, cut the plastic cover off and replace the lead washer with a brass or stainless steel washer a hair thicker than the lead washer. I don't even mess with this problem anymore, one of my initial maintenace procedures when I work on something new is to fix this battery terminal problem.

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It was bad starter (total new rebuild on engine!)

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I'm currently having this exact same problem. I've ruled out the key issue I think, and currently working to see if it's the starter. Battery I know is fine. I'm so glad someone else is having this problem (it's mean, I know, but glad to have company!)

Jennifer

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OK Me and some scotch tape just tried.

Tape over pellet: Key on, everything lights up normally. Turn to start, everything goes black.

Tape removed: Key on same-same. Turn to start and goes black except SIR light is on steady. Starter engages.

So differnce I see is that if the passekey is working and the switch goes to start, the red SIR light will be lit while starter is grinding.

Anyone care to doublecheck ?

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