Has trouble starting sometimes

Tiny
JAMESON280ZX
  • MEMBER
  • 1982 NISSAN 280Z
  • 250 MILES
Started a while back, tried to start, made a horrific grinding noise, died instantly. 2nd try, fired right up. Got less then a mile when I noticed my voltometer dropping rapidly, made it home exactly when the battery died completely (5 miles) diagnosed as a bad alternator. I replaced the alternator. Voltage problem fixed, car started and ran fine. After a while, the started started to make an odd noise I'd assume is a grind It is a loud noise but does not sound to me like metal on metal grinding. It happened on every start. I replaced the starter. Started and ran great, most of the time. On the old starter I did notice wear on the teeth that looked as if it was not fully engaged on the flywheel and seemed to be barely touching, I thought due to lack of power from the bad regulator inside it. One dirt road later and the problem came back, tightened the connector on the new starter, fixed, sort-of. Just every now and then she has trouble starting. Seems unrelated to engine temp, outside temp, number of turns before the engine starts (sometimes she does not want to fire on cold cold mornings and refuses to start untill I turn the key back to accesory and retry starting), and does not seem to happen at any frequency. Sometimes it happense once a week, once it happened twice in 5 mins. The only correlation I see is a lower then usual reading on my voltometer, Usually around 13v or so when it normally reads 14. I'm wondering if this sounds electrical, like a bad connection or decayed wire somewhere, or just a cold weather problem. I have yet to test the theory fully, but as I recall all occurances recently have happened while i've had less then 1/2 a tank of gas, so I was also wondering if it could be related to fuel pressure in cold temperatures and the noise being the engine turning with no fuel.
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Monday, January 23rd, 2012 AT 3:57 PM

10 Replies

Tiny
FIXITMR
  • MEMBER
Check your flywheel teeth. And the new starter teeth for mesh pattern.
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Monday, January 23rd, 2012 AT 5:19 PM
Tiny
JAMESON280ZX
  • MEMBER
Mesh pattern?
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Monday, January 23rd, 2012 AT 11:54 PM
Tiny
FIXITMR
  • MEMBER
Fully engaged marks.
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Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 AT 12:05 AM
Tiny
JAMESON280ZX
  • MEMBER
I'll check the starter as soon as I have the time, hopefully in the next few days. It is only 2 bolts but they made the top one fairly difficult to get to. As for the flywheel, checking it won't be very useful because it will have wear marks from the last starter not fully engaging either way. I've had no starting issues whatsoever for the last few days, but it has been significantly warmer.
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Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 AT 6:50 PM
Tiny
RIVERMIKERAT
  • MEMBER
Jameson, what fixitmr was wanting to know is if the flywheel has new, shiny marks on the teeth, showing an improper meshing of the flywheel with the starter gear.

Take it to an Autozone or something and have the perform a start draw test. This will tell you if the wiring is going bad.
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Friday, January 27th, 2012 AT 12:48 AM
Tiny
JAMESON280ZX
  • MEMBER
Greatly simplified the question. I had autozone test the start draw before and after replacing the alternator. The result of the before test was a bad regulator inside the alternator, the result after was 'no problems'. But the problem seems to either be there or not be there at all. I've also recently had my battery tested. It showed 82% charge when brought in (seperate from the vehicle) but tested good. They attributed the lack of voltage to short distance driving. Still waiting on the ability to inspect the starter and flywheel, however it is still starting fine every time with no issue. I've pinpointed the noise it makes aswell. The grinding noise is very similar to trying to start the car while the flywheel is in motion, say those rare occasions where you forget your car is running and you try to start it.
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Friday, January 27th, 2012 AT 12:50 PM
Tiny
RIVERMIKERAT
  • MEMBER
That could mean the bendix is weakening or the starter needs to be shimmed.
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Friday, January 27th, 2012 AT 6:42 PM
Tiny
FIXITMR
  • MEMBER
I got a rebuilt starter and it did the same thing, grinding once and a while. Took solenoid apart and it was full of rust! Cleaned and lightly oiled and never failed again.
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Saturday, January 28th, 2012 AT 4:21 AM
Tiny
JAMESON280ZX
  • MEMBER
Well it is fixed. Not sure what did it. Starts up perfect, other then the expected 'hard' start in the cold, marvel mystery oil has fixed that, aswell. Out of the blue my voltometer is reading lower (around 12v instead of the usual 16ish) before crank, and down to 10v during crank (instead of 12 during) and I have no grinding whatsoever. The weather has been nice enough to change from warm and rainy, cold and rainy, snowy, sleet, and warm- she has started up no problem in it all. Maybe the starter or alternator just needed to be broken in.
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Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 AT 2:56 PM
Tiny
RIVERMIKERAT
  • MEMBER
You should have around 13.8V with everything off and about 14.2V with the engine running. Voltage dropping to about 10V when starting is normal.
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Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 AT 8:17 PM

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