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Starter not always engaging issue on 87


Jim S
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My 87 has intermittent problems engaging the starter when I turn the key.  I have replaced: the battery, new Delco Gold starter, new Delco ignition switch, new ignition lock, new battery cables new neutral safety switch and I replaced the terminals on all the starter switch to solenoid wires.  But every now and then, when I turn  the ignition key, I hear the solenoid click but the starter does not turn.  After a few more tries, the starter will engage and the engine fires up.  I don't know what I could be missing that makes this starting system unreliable.

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Did the new starter include a new drive?  Have you checked all of the grounds. like where the starter mounts?  Especially on a fiberglass bodied car, you need to verify grounds everywhere.  

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Yes, the starter was a completely new assembly (not a rebuilt) with solenoid and drive.  All the ground straps around the engine and bell housing I cleaned and tightened too.

Edited by Jim S
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I have no idea whether this will help but my '66 (Corvette 327 powered) had the same problem, as apparently, did a lot of GM's of that era.  (Does this apply to yours?  I have no idea.)

Apparently, the spring inside the solenoid was a bit strong and would get a bit stronger when hot and lead to the clicking/starter not engaging, yadda, yadda, yadda.  (I went through the same things you've done and feel your pain.)  According to Jon Meyer, GM actually came out with a factory tech sheet regarding a weaker replacement spring as a fix.  In searching old AOAI tech articles, Glenn Bell had addressed this problem in issue 94 on page 23.  Summit Racing has a kit, p/n SUM-G1750 which is an external relay and wiring kit which basically ensures that the solenoid gets engaged.  I put it on about 5 years ago (very simple procedure) and have not had a single hiccup since.  Hope this helps.

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You don't say if this is a cold or hot issue or both.

If its a hot issue, install the relay kit.

If its a cold issue look at the flywheel teeth. You may have a place on the flywheel where the teeth are bad and not letting the stater gear drive fully extend to spin. That would sound like just the solenoid engaging and would only happen when the flywheel was stopped at that point.

Good luck all,

Jim Wood

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Thank-you to everyone with all the good tips.  I solved the issue.  I did a voltage check where the starter switch wire attaches to the solenoid.  Whilst my wife turned the key, I measured voltage and found when it did not engage, I only had 6volts!  So after tracing the three red battery wires from the big square connector on the top of the cowl, I found the issue.  Down behind the distributer, the previous owner had 4 wire breaks butt connected poorly and corroded. One of them even had a short piece of 16 gauge wire in between the butt splices!  All of course hidden under electrical tape.  I re-spliced, soldered and sealed with heat shrink.  And wallah! Strong perfect starts every time.  Finding hidden masterpieces of these hot messes is never ending!

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