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#1 mem

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Posted 12 November 2020 - 07:55 PM

Hello,

I have a 88 Conquest that stays connected to a trickle charger because the car is only driven 3-4 times a month. I replaced the battery 9 months ago and everything has been working fine up until last week. I disconnected the trickle charger and when I went to start the car it was like a weak battery was trying to start it. I drove for about 70 miles turned the car off and it did the same thing. The volt gauge was showing a good charge the whole time it was driving. I started to take the battery back for an exchange because when I went to start the car it did the same thing.

I kept repeating the starting and this time I noticed that when the car started the volt gauge was dead flat for about a second then I could hear what sounded like a switch or relay "click" and then the volt gauge would go to full charge. I did this several times and it did the same thing each time I started the car. I turned on the air, lights, all accessories and the volt gauge was still good charge. The alternator was replaced last year.

I am curious as to what the clicking switch or relay sound is. Has anyone else experienced this or has an idea what could be going on.

Thanks





#2 obsolete

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Posted 12 November 2020 - 11:24 PM

I would guess that your starter motor is getting weak. I'd replace that first.
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#3 tux

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Posted 12 November 2020 - 11:47 PM

Id get your factory starter rebuilt, don't buy a reman

#4 mem

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Posted 13 November 2020 - 01:00 PM

Thanks guys. Is the started the problem with the clicking and then the sudden jump on the volt gage?

I'm not sure who I could get to rebuild the starter. What is wrong with a reman?

#5 tux

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Posted 13 November 2020 - 02:52 PM

View Postmem, on 13 November 2020 - 01:00 PM, said:

Thanks guys. Is the started the problem with the clicking and then the sudden jump on the volt gage?

I'm not sure who I could get to rebuild the starter. What is wrong with a reman?

Poor quality from most remans.  You can bring the started to most DC motor repair shops for repair.

#6 tux

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Posted 13 November 2020 - 02:53 PM

you can bench test the starter though to get an idea if it's that

#7 TexasQuest

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Posted 14 November 2020 - 04:52 PM

Also be aware the starter mounting bolts acts as a ground. If they are grimey or corroded they can cause issues.
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View PostJohnnyWadd, on 04 March 2010 - 10:01 PM, said:

my shaft was big i dont know what your talking about.

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#8 mem

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Posted 15 November 2020 - 11:28 PM

Thanks guys!

After further inspection the "clicking" noise sounds like it is coming from the starter. I wonder if it's the starter or the starter solenoid?

#9 tux

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Posted 16 November 2020 - 12:33 AM

Could be solenoid.  It's relatively cheap for a new solenoid.  If that doesn't solve it, get starter rebuilt.  But I would have starter rebuilt anyways if I'm bothering to pull it

#10 Fuze

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Posted 16 November 2020 - 03:11 PM

One way or another it sounds like you have a starter issue. You shouldn't be able to hear the starter solenoid click from inside, it releases as soon as you stop cranking the engine, it shouldn't be delayed like that. But you could also be hearing your big ECI relay under the dash if it's not that.

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#11 mem

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Posted 17 November 2020 - 06:54 PM

Thanks. I was under the hood when I had my wife start the car. The click came from the passenger side of the engine, and it sounded like the location of the starter.

#12 tux

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Posted 17 November 2020 - 07:34 PM

Starter should be on drivers side, unless you are in a rhd car

#13 techboy

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Posted 18 November 2020 - 03:34 PM

Yeah, that's what I was gonna say too, the starter is on the drivers side right under the intake mani.  If you still have AC, it'll be right behind it. There shouldn't even be anything on the passenger side that would make a noise like that.  All you have is exhaust mani and a downpipe.

If you have a broom handle or a long metal pipe would be better, like 1" in dia put it on the starter w/ your ear on the other end while someone is attempting the start the car.  If the clicking is coming from there you should be able to hear it loud and clear.  Kinda like the cups on a string phone thing.
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#14 mem

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Posted 21 November 2020 - 03:52 PM

Thanks guys. You are right. I located the starter on the drivers side (my other cars starter is on the passenger side) the clicking is coming from the starter area. This doesn't look like an easy remove and replace job.

#15 mikec

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Posted 21 November 2020 - 06:58 PM

Check the fat cables coming from the battery.  It is common for the ground cable to have a poor connection to the car body/chassis and then an even worse connection at the side of the engine block.  If the block connection is bad, the starter motor ground will be bad... and the starter circuit will try to ground some other way - i.e. through the small/skinny ground wires at the intake manifold, in the wiring bundle to the ECU, and via the throttle cable.  None of those can take the electrical current (amperage) of the starter motor and will fry as a result.  The throttle cable often burns internally:  there is a metal jacket inside the rubber cover part that you can see plus the actual cable part connected to the throttle pedal.  when the throttle cable assembly is asked to serve as the engine ground, the jacket and internal cable overheat and get damaged... welding themselves together (=jammed cable) or blobs/balls of molten metal form and then harden leading to excessive cable friction.  Either way, the cable is junk.  With the battery disconnected, undo the bolts holding the ground cable to the bodywork and to the engine block.  Are there "star washers" at those points?  Star washers have little ears sticking outwards (or inwards sometimes) that are bent or twisted a bit - the result is washers that are not dead-flat.  These twisted ears dig into the bolts, bodywork, and engine block - through any paint - to make a reliable electrical connection.  If they're missing, it is not uncommon for rust or corrosion to get between the wire connector and the engine/bodywork leading to lousy connections.  The connections at the battery must be clean as well, the crimps from the fat cables to the battery clamps need to be solid and clean too.  Old cables often have busted copper wire strands at the connectors; these busted strands basically reduce the thickness of the wire which in turn means the wire has more trouble carrying starter motor currents.

There are no relays in the alternator circuit itself; it is controlled by contacts in the ignition switch assembly.  There is a fairly beefy relay above the ECU - i.e. in the body structure at the passenger end of the dashboard, alongside the glove box area.  This is the "ECI" relay and powers the fuel injection system, the ignition system, and the fuel pump.  The relay has two separate trigger coils: one is activated by the ignition switch START position to get the car started; the other side is powered by the ECU once the ECU confirms the engine is actually running by detecting pulses from the ignition coil (same signal that drives the tachometer).  The ECU holds the ECI relay ON as long as the engine appears to be running; this is a safety thing in case the car is involved in a major accident: you don't want the fuel pump running, spewing gas through any busted fuel lines.  The ECI relay might be the click you are hearing.  Unless some previous owner has changed the car's wiring for whatever reason.

The starter motor includes the solenoid assembly.  The solenoid does two things:
1: it is a pair of big electromagnets (triggered by the ignition key START position) that slam the starter gear into the flywheel ring gear (5-speed cars) or torque converter ring gear (automatics).  This "slamming" needs to be pretty strong to make the starter gear teeth mesh with the ring gears - it may have to nudge the engine/crankshaft a few degrees to get the teeth meshed properly.

2: the solenoid also has a large electrical switch contact that feeds battery power to the starter motor once the "slamming" job is complete.  This way, the starter motor is not spinning until AFTER the starter gear has engaged the ring gear.  Otherwise you'd have a spinning starter motor gear trying to engage a motionless ring gear... a good way to munch gear teeth.  Some other brands of cars in fact do this - that's why they develop dead spots where the teeth are completely ground away or broken off.

That solenoid is actually two electromagnets; one by itself isn't strong enough to nudge the engine.  A common starter failure is one of the electromagnets to fail.  When this happens, sometimes the starter works because the engine happened to shut off with the gear teeth lined up nicely - no nudging was necessary.  But if the ring gear doesn't line up with the starter gear then one electromagnet isn't enough to nudge the crankshaft rotation a few degrees so the gears can mesh.  If the gears do not mesh, that large electrical switch never closes so the starter never tries to spin.  It feels like a dead battery to you.  If the car is a stick-shift, release the ignition key, open the door, put the car into 4th gear or reverse, and with one foot push the car.  If you used 4th gear, move the car forwards; if you used reverse gear try rolling the car backwards.  In either case, do not have your foot on the clutch pedal.  This will nudge the engine a little.  Now put the parking brake back on, take the transmission out of gear, and try starting again.  If you can get the engine started this way, you can pretty much be assured the starter solenoid is bad.

Another test for "dead battery" during startup: turn the headlights ON and see how bright they are.  They should be almost as bright as they are when everything is working normally.  Now, while trying to start, watch the headlight brightness.  They'll dim a little on a healthy car + battery; if they go really dim (beyond 50% dark) the battery is weak or the battery cables have horrible resistance.  Also, after turning the headlights ON, the brightness should stay fairly constant until you try to start... if the headlights fade at all within 10 minutes, the battery is very weak and should be replaced.

mike c.

#16 mem

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 11:48 AM

Wow! Thanks. I will check the wires and grounding connections. I start the car in neutral, it starts like it has a week battery, once the car starts, momentarily the volt gauge reads  between 8 and the first tick mark, once the click happens the volt gauge jumps up to the tick mark just under 16. I have turned the lights, air cond, and cycle the windows up and down. Everything seems to be operating normally. Other than the slow starting (like a week battery) the only problem seems to be the momentary hesitation until the click happens and everything has full power. I haven't noticed and signs of the headlines dimming. The car stays on a trickle charger and is about one year old.

#17 mikec

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Posted 22 November 2020 - 03:00 PM

One things StarQuests are known for is apparently low voltages...  the dash voltmeter often reads barely above 12volts when the car is running and the voltmeter bounces in sync with the turn signals.  In reality, this is NOT what is happening at the battery, it is an artifact of the way the voltmeter and fuse box are wired.

Basically, anything that is powered only when the ignition key is in the ON position gets power via the IGN fusible link (one of those wire loops near the battery) and the ignition switch ON position which in turn feeds much of the fuse box.  The wires between the battery, IGN link, ignition switch, and fuse box are not huge in diameter and with age develops some resistance.  Poor connections along the way don't help either.  So one idea was to connect the ignition switch ON position to a relay coil and have the relay contacts feed the fuse box.  You'd run new wires from the IGN fusible link (or battery if you want to bypass the IGN link safety) to the relay and then to the fuse box.  This "restores" better voltage/wiring to the fuse box so electrical items function better.

However... you don't really need a relay to do that.  Clean up the larger white wires from the battery to the fusible link box, the connectors inside the box, replace the IGN link, and then run new (and fat) wires from the IGN link output post to the ignition switch input post (white+black wire), and then another fat wire from the IGN ON position to the fuse box (basically doubling-up the factory wiring) accomplishes the same thing.  See the factory service manual electrical chapter (PDFs of it are available from several sources - do a SEARCH on this site for "FSM" or "Factory Service Manual") for the factory wire colors and pinout of the ignition switch.  You'll discover there are two output posts on the IGN switch; "IG1" is the one that feeds the fuse box.  This is a black+white wire on the harness side of the connector going to the switch... the wire from the connector to the switch will be different.  Pop the bottom of the dash off, and the bottom cover of the steering column, and look for the wire bundle coming from the ignition switch... follow it from the switch to the connector and wiring harness.  If you see a cut wire and some stuff spliced in there, look for an added-on relay!

mike c.




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