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Starter Gremlins
Posted by Old Guy [Email] (more from Old Guy) on Sun, 26 Nov 2017 19:19:25
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My apologies in advance for the lengthy post – the question requires significant background . . . I have had trouble keeping a charge on my Sonett III – eventually traced what I believed to be the primary culprit to a shorted headlight relay. In the interim I bought and used a battery charger to keep things “topped off”. I read the fine print too late, however, that charging was only to take place with both battery leads disconnected or damage could occur to the alternator. This was discovered after successfully push starting the car and driving to the parts store to have both the battery and alternator tested. On the same trip home (prior to alternator replacement, but with new battery) the wiring overheated (presumably due to the extremely low remaining voltage) and I am unable to start the vehicle again.

I’ve had the starter/solenoid out of the car multiple times and both will engage when bench tested separated from the chassis. Makes me think there’s a ground/back-feed somewhere. I’ve tested every wire, fuse and relay in the vehicle at least twice, and the only potential oddities I can find are:
1. voltmeter shows voltage across engine block/solenoid post when alternator warning light circuit is connected.
2. voltmeter shows voltage across engine block/solenoid post when temperature warning light circuit is connected.
3. voltmeter shows voltage across engine block/solenoid post when key is in “run” (position II) and ignition coil circuit is connected. (I have replaced the points with an electronic ignition circuit).
In all three cases, however, the starter will not engage even if one or all circuits above are disconnected. I can’t verify amps (tester maxes out at 10 amps) but with battery at 14 volts I still only sometimes get the solenoid to engage, and never the starter.

What is the minimum voltage/amperage needed to crank the starter? (Dud battery from the store?)
Is it possible for the main cable from battery to starter to introduce resistance?


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