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Starter Won't Engage? Check this thread...


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I just learned something about a starter problem that I haven't seen remarked about in any forum - and I did a quick search here to check.

The problem I had was that turning the key to the start position in my 1983 280ZX didn't always engage the starter. Once in every 5 or 10 times, I heard a relay click but the starter would NOT engage - even turning the key in and out of the start position multiple times.

I changed the ignition switch - and no luck. I checked all contacts and no luck. I pulled the starter twice (only 3 years since rebuilt) and took it to the shop which rebuilt it for a check-out. It engaged every time they tested it.

THEN I got a chance to talk with the shop owner. He said that on some Datsuns, he had seen the wire to the starter solenoid go bad. This is the small wire that sends power to spade-bit connector on the solenoid on top of the starter.

He suggested that I check that wire - or hook up a jumper wire to it and if the car didn't start, touch the jumper wire to the batter positive terminal.

The jumper works every time! So now I know the problem is a faulty wire to the solenoid - the wire which slides onto the spade tab for the solenoid.

What I've done until we get into good weather is to install a spade bit with two connectors on the solenoid tab. One connector goes to the wire from the car - the other connector has a jumper wire which I've left up high on the inner fender, with the end insulated.

If the starter doesn't engage with the key, I PUT IT IN NEUTRAL with the parking brake engaged, pop the hood, hop out and touch the end of the jumper to the positive battery terminal. Starts EVERY time! :cool:

I don't know how much of a pain it's going to be to replace the original wire, but at least this way the car doesn't leave me stranded. I've push-started it entirely too many times over the last couple of years while diagnosing this.

Edited by Pilgrim
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Do a search on starter relay upgrade. It's just a relay that will take your weak signal and turn it into a full battery strength signal.

here's a quick wiring of a standard 20/30 automotive relay.

Plug your starter wire (yellow'ish wire) into tab #85

connect a ground wire to tab #86

Connect a 14 gauge fused wire from the battery to tab #30

Connect a 14 Gauge wire from the #87 to the starter Solenoid.

That's it. pretty simple. Your inline fuse should be a 15amp fuse.


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