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Engine quit. solonoid won't engage. WTH?


Guest 1FASTC4

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Guest 1FASTC4

Tooling along, minding my own business when the engine quits. Turn ignition to "start", all things that are supposed to shut off( AFR gauge, Stereo as an example) do shut off, but the solonoid won't engage the starter. Plenty of volts on the battery, no loose connections that I can find. Can VATS going bad cause an already running car to shut down? What are the symptoms of a VATS failure? Scratching my head.... thanks Steve

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the engine coolant may be at 195 but the starter/solonid can get heat soaked. let it sit for 12 to 24 hours and try it again.

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Could a cell in the battery dying cause that maybe? I've a battery loose a cell, volts looked fine, but similar situation; the starter wouldn't engage. Maybe? Longshot?

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F22trainer

Had same problem - in fact, tried to fix it with Doug's help and a mini-gear starter. Didn't quite work out that way, but here's what I know:

heat from headers will kill GM starters - solenoids get fried and won't engage until after they cool down - usually if you open the hood and let it cool off in the shade for about 15 minutes it will fire up again unless the solenoid is already toast.

The 2 remedies I was faced with were to install the mini starter or bypass the GM solenoid and put in a Ford (ACK!) part - I have drawings for the latter I think, from Phils'Vette.

I wound up replacing GM starter with a rebuilt (lifetime warranty)from Checker after the mini starter thing fell through (different story)...but I fab'd a heat shield from perf aluminum which went around the solenoid and starter. The shields for sale aftermarket just are solid metal with a foil blanket - the perf aluminum seems to have worked though, as it dissapates the heat rather than trapping it in. Others with this problem have installed the shields and still had trouble and wind up replacing starters anyway.

Also, I took the old starter to a place in Glendale that rebuilds them - they know about the GM heat soaking problem and they rebuild them with more durable parts than the GM guts...I have that one sitting on the shelf in case the one I put in fails, but I have not had any trouble with the replacement from Checker and my heat shield invention. My headers killed a starter every year before that.

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Had same problem - in fact, tried to fix it with Doug's help and a mini-gear starter. Didn't quite work out that way, but here's what I know:

heat from headers will kill GM starters - solenoids get fried and won't engage until after they cool down - usually if you open the hood and let it cool off in the shade for about 15 minutes it will fire up again unless the solenoid is already toast.

The 2 remedies I was faced with were to install the mini starter or bypass the GM solenoid and put in a Ford (ACK!) part - I have drawings for the latter I think, from Phils'Vette.

I wound up replacing GM starter with a rebuilt (lifetime warranty)from Checker after the mini starter thing fell through (different story)...but I fab'd a heat shield from perf aluminum which went around the solenoid and starter. The shields for sale aftermarket just are solid metal with a foil blanket - the perf aluminum seems to have worked though, as it dissapates the heat rather than trapping it in. Others with this problem have installed the shields and still had trouble and wind up replacing starters anyway.

Also, I took the old starter to a place in Glendale that rebuilds them - they know about the GM heat soaking problem and they rebuild them with more durable parts than the GM guts...I have that one sitting on the shelf in case the one I put in fails, but I have not had any trouble with the replacement from Checker and my heat shield invention. My headers killed a starter every year before that.

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F22trainer

Agreed that heat will kill a starter but I don't get how it will cause the car to quit running while running. I had a 65 GTO with hooker headers and in the summer everytime I stopped, I had to stay for at least a half an hour. Finally did a header wrap to end that. But I don't see how it will cause a running car to stop running unless the ignition wire were to melt at the solenoid?

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Guest 1FASTC4

Lots of good ideas here. Thanks everyone for your unput! I looked things over again. A spade connector at the solonoid was unplugged. I plugged it back in and everything performed as designed. Maybe ignition switch? Cool to think that I can go WOT and cause stuff to come unplugged. lol

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You've got some serious torque there, better make sure you have enough slack on the wires to compensate for motor movement

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F22trainer

You've got some serious torque there, better make sure you have enough slack on the wires to compensate for motor movement

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Like some here I've gone through starters with headers on my C3, two brand new ones as a matter of fact. I finally just went to a mini hi-torque and haven't had any issues for a few years now. I tried shields, wraps and both with no luck until the hi-torque. If you start having these issues, you may want to consider doing one of these or the *cough* Ford remote on your vette... :P Nice find on the loose wire.

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