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Engine cranks very slowly when starting, battery not dead


Guest Ansis42
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Guest Ansis42

Hello all,

I have a 1980 Buick LeSabre with a 4.9L 301 V8. I am working out the kinks after replacing both head gaskets. I am experiencing a very strange issue lately.

I attempted to start it up one day. The engine cranked VERY slowly. But then out of nowhere, through some miracle, it started right up. I let it run for a while, and drove it around my neighborhood. I turned off the engine, then immediately tried starting it up again. Again, the engine cranked VERY slowly. This time, however, it never actually started.

I figured the battery was dead or dying. I thought this was odd because this was a brand-new battery. So, I bought myself a multi-meter, and tested out the battery. It had almost a full charge at about 12.5. So, I thought that was weird. I figured I'd test for a short. The multi-meter indicated there was no draw at all at -0.00.

So then, after proving that the battery was fine, I figured I'd try to start it up again. It cranked nearly perfectly (only a tiny-bit slow), and started right up. Let it run for a while, then turned off the engine. Again, I immediately tried starting it up again. Again, it cranked VERY slowly, and never actually started.

So......starter?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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It is usually one of two things

(1) Bad connection.....which could be at the battery, starter, or ground..... possibly a defective cable.

(2) Bad starter...often bad brushes or broken brush spring.

Start by checking all the connections between the battery and starter.

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I owned a 1979 LeSabre with the 4.9 or 301 V-8 for 14 years. Every three years, almost like clockwork, the starter would begin to drag and within a few days it would completely quit and not crank the car. I think the car had 4 different starters in the 14 years that I owned it. It's a small starter motor, maybe too small for the engine--that's just my guess, or maybe it is too close to the heat of the exhaust pipe. Anyway, I am convinced that there is some sort of design flaw in the 301 V-8s with regarding the starter motors. Replace it with a new or rebuilt one.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

Leonard, Texas

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I owned a 1979 LeSabre with the 4.9 or 301 V-8 for 14 years. Every three years, almost like clockwork, the starter would begin to drag and within a few days it would completely quit and not crank the car. I think the car had 4 different starters in the 14 years that I owned it. It's a small starter motor, maybe too small for the engine--that's just my guess, or maybe it is too close to the heat of the exhaust pipe. Anyway, I am convinced that there is some sort of design flaw in the 301 V-8s with regarding the starter motors. Replace it with a new or rebuilt one.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

Leonard, Texas

I would vote that the heat from the exhaust was the problem. There was probably a shield that should have been there that might have been removed.

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Guest buickkuhn

You replaced the head gaskets : maybe the starter was stressed out from hydraulic lock or not starting issue before fixing . That could be a factor also . If you can get a helping hand put positive test lead on starter then negative on battery - then crank engine (this will show zip then low amps cranking {bad starter} or it will be 11 volts or above will be the perfect world {good starter} ) .I test a lot of the newer vortec's GMs with a snap on computer and voltage while cranking is low with new battery is a bad starter - sometimes even causing needing to be jump started with a good battery is another effect. Good luck

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