Intermittent starting problem

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jimrat
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Intermittent starting problem

Post by jimrat »

Hi

I need help with an intermittent starter issue: sometimes when I turn the ignition key, the starter doesn't turn. All the dash lights come on, and there is a distinct click coming from the engine bay (starter solenoid?), but the starter does not turn. Usually, if I turn the ignition off and try again, it will fire up straight away. It seems to be getting more frequent - yesterday it took 5 cycles of the ignition key before it went, and I'm worried it is going to let me down.

I've checked the starter motor wiring and all seems fine. I remade the spade connection as a precaution, but it made no difference. All the earths are good. I replaced the oilite bush last year when I had the engine out for a rebuild.

The battery is showing 12.5V at the terminals first thing in the morning, and 14.62V with the engine running, which drops to 14.0V with all the electrical stuff on. When the starter works, it turns the engine over quickly and it catches almost immediately (it a 2.1 DJ)

Any thoughts? Could there be something sticking inside the starter?

Cheers
Jim
1990 T25 camper, 2.1 DJ

California Dreamin
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by California Dreamin »

Sounds like you have tried most things....my thoughts.
Short braided wire between the solenoid and starter has rotted (turning to dust) I've seen them where there are only half the strands left so not able to initially carry the high amperage (starters take massive amps initially, less when actually turning)
Bad pair of segments on the commutator.
Bushes worn low so poor intermittent connection between brushes and commutator.
High resistance in main positive lead to starter (have you tried measuring the battery voltage at the main post on the starter 'whilst' cranking...as you are probably aware the copper multi-strand core can get 'black rot' tarnishing of the strands.
Battery cell levels low or partially uncovering plates (nothing you can do about it if the starter battery is sealed)
Battery umph!! low CCA (battery spec?)
Ignition switch failure, although the symptoms described wouldn't point to this.
Earth cables...MAIN gearbox earth..you could fit a second earth strap directly from the chassis to starter mount bolt.

Martin
1989 California 2.1MV

jimrat
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by jimrat »

Thanks for the reply Martin

There was certainly evidence of 'black rot' in the spade connection - I will check everything and report back :ok
1990 T25 camper, 2.1 DJ

jpennington
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by jpennington »

I had exactly similar symptoms this time last year. It got steadily more frequent over a few weeks.
As I was about to depart for a trip to the south of France, I bought a new starter from GSF and popped it in the wardrobe just in case.
Eventually I changed the starter motor in a supermarket car park outside Nice at 10 pm (too hot during the day).
When I got home I dismantled the old starter - it turned out to be a faulty solenoid. Details in my post: http://forum.club8090.co.uk/viewtopic.p ... 6#p8088037" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

There doesn't seem to be an easy way to test the solenoid. I suggest buying a new solenoid anyway; they are not too expensive (at least compared to a new or exchange starter motor).
1986, Westfalia Joker, DJ 2.1 engine, 5 speed.
Mine from new, now sold.
Replaced by a T6 California

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danmetallic
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Intermittent starting problem

Post by danmetallic »

Have you replaced the ignition switch? Sounds like a dodgy connection. What happens if you wiggle the key?


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1988 VW T25 Westfalia Club Joker, 2.1 iDJ
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jimrat
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by jimrat »

Thanks everyone for the replies.

According to the history file it had a reconditioned starter motor fitted in April 2013.
Last year I re-made all the earth connections and added an extra earth lead directly from the starter to the chassis.
The battery is only a couple of years old and is decent quality - bosch s5 (cca 750 Amps).

Think I'll start with the ignition switch.

Cheers
Jim
1990 T25 camper, 2.1 DJ

Bubble Meister
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by Bubble Meister »

Some starters have an additional terminal for the start signal. Run a wire, via a switch, from the battery to the spare terminal. This cuts out the ignition switch and it's wiring. If the starter works you've isolated the problem to the ignition signal side. If it still doesnt start its the starter or its main feed (or earth).
Introducing Bubble, the B reg '85, 1.9 DF WBX (currently with a DG fitted!)

jimrat
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by jimrat »

Ok, with the ignition key in the 'start position', the resistance across the ignition switch (red and red/black terminals) is almost zero ohms, and the starter solenoid gets +12.3V, measured at the solenoid.

I removed the starter and separated the motor from the solenoid. I noticed that two of the three solenoid mounting screws were loose (not even finger tight) - could this cause a problem, as the whole thing is earthed through the body of the motor?

I also tried to get the end cap off the motor body to inspect the commutator/brushes. Does the end cap tap off or is it threaded? Do I have to remove the back circlip from the main shaft?

Cheers
Jim
1990 T25 camper, 2.1 DJ

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CovKid
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by CovKid »

Remove circlip. Heres what I found in mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNKSeAAd3rk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Roller paint your camper at home: http://roller.epizy.com/55554/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; for MP4 download.

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chris7ian
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by chris7ian »

jimrat wrote:Hi

I need help with an intermittent starter issue: sometimes when I turn the ignition key, the starter doesn't turn. All the dash lights come on, and there is a distinct click coming from the engine bay (starter solenoid?), but the starter does not turn. Usually, if I turn the ignition off and try again, it will fire up straight away. It seems to be getting more frequent - yesterday it took 5 cycles of the ignition key before it went, and I'm worried it is going to let me down.

I've checked the starter motor wiring and all seems fine. I remade the spade connection as a precaution, but it made no difference. All the earths are good. I replaced the oilite bush last year when I had the engine out for a rebuild.

The battery is showing 12.5V at the terminals first thing in the morning, and 14.62V with the engine running, which drops to 14.0V with all the electrical stuff on. When the starter works, it turns the engine over quickly and it catches almost immediately (it a 2.1 DJ)

Any thoughts? Could there be something sticking inside the starter?

Cheers
Jim

I had the same symptoms on my Bug over the course of 18months - eventually, on the day of it's MOT, it wouldn't start at all and had to be pushed. After doing all the usual checks I eventually shelled out for a new starter and hew presto, better than ever!

My T3, however, had an intermittent starting problem which a new starter (I had the original one rebuilt) didn't cure. That one turened out to be a voltage drop throught the ignition so I made up and fitted a 'hot start relay which basically takes the load off the ignition and instead only uses it as a trigger
Last edited by chris7ian on 28 May 2016, 14:43, edited 1 time in total.

jimrat
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by jimrat »

Cured by a new (remanufactured) starter from Eurocarparts

Think it was probably the solenoid, but as I needed the van this weekend for a trip I didn't have time to mess around with it.

:ok
1990 T25 camper, 2.1 DJ

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Phillydra
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by Phillydra »

I'm now having exactly the same issue on mine, going to get under it after work and check connections, it just took 7 turns to start first 6 were just single click then fired up nicely like usual.  

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Phillydra
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by Phillydra »

I know I'm jumping on an old post here but it sounds exactly the same as my fault so I've reserved a new starter motor for europarts, I'm off on my first trip for 4 days on Thursday so I need it here, 

 

JeffRoo
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by JeffRoo »

If you are going to change the starter motor make sure you change the oilite bush as well. They are usually phosphorus bronze and need charging with oil. Easy enough to do. Put the bush on you thumb, fill with clean engine oil. Put your finger on top and squeeze the bush between finger and thumb until oil comes out of the sides (it’s porous). Easiest way to get the old one out is with a tap ( from memory it’s 10mm). Don’t drop it in the case though! Or you will have to split the engine and gearbox to get it out...... 😬 

Stesaw
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Re: Intermittent starting problem

Post by Stesaw »

I had an issue late last year where my van would turn over really slowly, I thought maybe the battery was getting flat as I hadn't really drove it far. Went to start it one day and it just clicked then nothing.. battery is flat? checked it and it was fine, thought it's the starter that was shot so better order a new one. However after messing with other electrics in the van and finding dodgy 30 year old cabling I thought It could be a simple fix so I checked the cables that attach to the starter. One was loose and pretty beat up so gave both connections a clean and made sure it sat on the starter without any movement, van fired right up after that.
So always check your connections (which you said you did) before throwing money at things you might not need, although having a spare starter might not be so bad to have.
1985 LeisureDrive 1.9DG 5 Speed

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