1987 Chevrolet Nova SHE WONT START

Tiny
JOSHUA1978
  • MEMBER
  • 1987 CHEVROLET NOVA
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
MY 87 NOVA WONT START I HAD A COMPUTER PROGRAM THAT WORKED TO TELL ME WHAT WAS WRONG IT SAID THE STARTER AND THE SOLENOID CHANGED THAT OUT WITH A BRAND NEW ONE STILL WILL NOT START NOT SO MUCH A CLICK I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO NOW
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Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 AT 4:13 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Need a lot more to go on than that. Do the head lights, dash lights, interior lights, or radio work? Have you checked the battery voltage? What about cables and connections? Neutral safety switch?

Does your car use a starter relay under the hood? If so, that can be used to break the system into four parts for troubleshooting. You'll need a test light.
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Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 AT 4:28 PM
Tiny
JOSHUA1978
  • MEMBER
The battery and lights were good at that time I even tried wiring a starter button in case it was the ignition switch still will not start
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Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 AT 4:33 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
That's good information, but if I told that to a mechanic, there's no way I'd expect him to believe me. HOW do you know the battery is okay? Did you measure its voltage or perform a load test on it? If so, what were the results?

How did you wire in a different switch? Where did you connect the two wires to?

Do you have a voltmeter or a test light? Does your car use a starter relay?
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Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 AT 4:51 PM
Tiny
JOSHUA1978
  • MEMBER
The battery was good because my head lights were bright with out the car running I do not have very many tools at all the lights working when the car is not running is just common sense that tells me my battery is just fine I don't need a volt meter to tell me that
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Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 AT 9:25 PM
Tiny
JOSHUA1978
  • MEMBER
The battery is the first thing I tested if the lights dont come on that would be the first thing but my lights do come on as does every other light in the car I dont have nor do I need a volt meter to tell me that much as for a relay if I could find that or fix that I wouldnt be on here asking how do I fix it
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Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 AT 9:28 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Sounds like you have an attitude, but if I don't ask, there's no way you can expect me to know what you know.

First of all, the battery in my minivan is nine years old and it cranks the engine with tons of power, ... For about ten seconds, then it's dead. The voltage is fine but there's no capacity left because most of the lead has flaked off the plates. The battery will run a little inverter to keep my laptop going for about an hour and that's it, then the battery is too run down to start the engine. The new battery in one of my cars that I rarely drive will run that inverter for over eight hours, then it still cranks the engine.

Your observation of the brightness of the lights is a good one, but it sure doesn't tell the whole story. As a professional, I've been tricked too many times, especially on cars that don't use a starter relay, into thinking the battery wasn't the cause of a no-crank, and I don't want to make you run in circles for the same thing. Don't assume anything. If you're too confident to measure the voltage, at least try starting the engine with a battery charger or jumper cables from another car. If it still doesn't crank, we will both rest assured we didn't overlook something simple and stupid, ... Like I've done before.

You need to use some punctuation in your replies, otherwise those huge sentences can be read a number of different ways, and I want to get the information right the first time.

Your comment about, "as for a relay if I could find that or fix that I wouldnt be on here asking how do I fix it" suggests you think I want you to suspect the relay is defective. What I said was the relay socket provides four test points, each corresponding to one fourth of the starter's electrical system. That can be used to identify which part has the problem so you don't waste time testing things that don't need testing. If you knew what to do, you wouldn't be here. Since you ARE here, take advantage of my experience and knowledge. I'm dishing it out for free to help anyone who asks for it.

When your car doesn't use a starter relay, as is the case with a lot of imports, testing becomes simpler in one respect as there's less tests to make, but there's more potential causes for the problem within those tests.

The place to start is by measuring the voltage on the smaller wire on the starter solenoid. You must find full battery voltage there when the ignition switch is turned to "crank". If you do not, or the voltage is very low, there is a defect in the ignition switch, the neutral safety switch, or the wiring between them. To verify everything else is working properly, touch a temporary wire between that terminal and the battery's positive terminal. That will engage the starter drive and turn on the starter.

If you DO find voltage on that smaller terminal, you have one of two things. Either your battery is not as strong as you think, or there's an open coil in the solenoid. To get the necessary clues, run that wire again from that terminal to the battery, and 1) watch for a small spark, and 2) measure the exact battery voltage, or I suppose in your case, watch the headlights, to see what happens to the battery's voltage.

2) There's always two separate electromagnetic coils in the starter solenoid. The strength of both of them is needed to pull the starter drive into engagement, then one is switched off to make its current available for cranking. Only the one remaining coil is needed to HOLD the solenoid in engagement. If either one of those coils is open, the solenoid still might engage with a jump start thanks to the much higher voltage that supplies, but that varies with every starter so it can't be used for a valid clue.

1) If the headlights get dim or the battery voltage drops more than about half a volt when you connect that jumper wire, either the battery has suffered the same fate as the one in my van, or there's a loose or corroded cable connection. I doubt this is what you're going to find based on your previous observation.

You still didn't tell me where you connected that switch to that you added. Knowing that might tell me what's still not working. Also keep in mind that where you connect the jumper wire there's going to be a spark. Batteries give off explosive hydrogen gas so we want to keep sparks away from them. Make the last connection with the jumper wire the one at the starter, and make that the first one you disconnect. The spark will occur down there and not near the battery.

The third possibility is there's no spark when you connect that jumper wire. That would imply both coils are open in the solenoid, and that would be very uncommon. It's more likely you'd find that terminal is heavily-rusted and you're not getting a good connection.

If you get a real strong spark with your jumper wire but the solenoid still doesn't engage, the housing may be warped and the metal plunger is sticking. That was a fairly common problem with the starters GM redesigned and started using for the 1987 model year, but the good news is your car doesn't use that starter. You have the little silver Nippendenso starter similar to what was used on Toyotas, Hondas, and Chryslers. I put one on my van many years ago to replace the less common model it came with. These starters have a REAL common problem with solenoid contacts burning away. The symptom is a single, rather loud clunk, each time you turn the ignition switch to "crank", but the starter doesn't spin the engine. At first it will be very intermittent and cause a no-crank perhaps once a week. Then it will be twice per day, and pretty soon you'll have to cycle the ignition switch many times before the starter works. In the case of my Ma's van that I ignored as long as I could, she lost count after 700 attempts and a blister on her thumb, but it did still eventually start. If you hear that single clunk, suspect the solenoid contacts.

The last thing is the shaft the starter drive slides on is gummed up. The drive has to fully engage the teeth on the ring gear before the contacts are switched on for the starter. If that shaft is coated with grease that has turned gooey, the electromagnets may not be strong enough to overcome that. I've never run into that yet on these starters, but it was somewhat common on older starters. The clue is you'll get a strong spark on that jumper wire, and you'll hear a light, dull thumping noise from the solenoid, but that's all.
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Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 AT 10:39 PM
Tiny
JOSHUA1978
  • MEMBER
I have indeed tried jumping the car first as you said with maybe it not getting enough from the battery also later when the battery died because the car has been sitting. I would hope the starter and solenoid would be in good shape as I said before I had a program on my pc that up until now was spot on it told me my starter and solenoid was bad and to replace it which I did with brand new from the parts store the car still wont start I don't mean to be snippy I'm really frustrated by this I am not mr fix it by any means but I was hoping this was going to be easy by finding out the starter was what is wrong and just putting a new one on the starter button I had watched my step farther do it a bunch of times and just to be sure I looked it up on e-how maybe I missed something in short it told me to take the wire split it < its a double wire one end on the positive post of the battery the other wired to the post on the solenoid and the other two ends to the starter button again because my battery was dead at this point I was hooked up via jumpers to a friends car still no start it did have bright head lights dash etc I even thought because electrical things are a little over my head that for some reason my friends car being so much newer and a import that maybe his computer in his car was not wanting to jump other cars so I had some one else try with and older truck still no luck at this point I'm pulling out my hair as for my tools I have no testers all I have is a few screw drivers a small socket set and enough knowledge to get me to where I'm at stuck Thank you for your help
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Thursday, September 18th, 2014 AT 5:06 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Dandy. The first thing you need to do is get a test light or digital voltmeter. The light is actually better for some tests, but they can cost more than a cheap meter. Harbor Freight Tools has a perfectly fine voltmeter for around seven bucks.

It sounds like you connected the switch correctly, if that was on the smaller terminal on the solenoid. At that point I would suspect a bad connection on one of the jumper cables. That happens most of the time until you play with them a little. It happened to me only a week ago. I ran my battery down while sitting in a public library parking lot out of state, and tried to jump it with a used battery I had just bought. Three times it didn't crank, but after scratching and wiggling on the clamps the fourth time, it finally took off just fine.

The other possibility is your battery was fine, as you thought, so jump-starting wouldn't solve anything.

Do you know how to read a digital voltmeter? Thanks to a recent house fire, I'm sitting 10 miles away in the parking lot of my library and I'll be here for about four hours. If you don't know how to read one or you don't reply by then, I'll type the instructions for these tests before I leave.

For right now there's only two readings you need to take. Place the meter's black negative probe right on a paint-free spot on the engine block, and the red positive probe on the larger terminal on the starter that the battery cable is bolted to. You must find full battery voltage there which will be 12.6 volts if it's fully-charged. 12.4 volts means it's not fully-charged. 12.2 volts means it's a good battery but it's completely dead. If you come up with around 11 volts, it has a shorted cell and must be replaced. A battery used for jump-starting may not be able to overcome that.

This next test is probably irrelevant, but when the solenoid does engage, that voltage must stay above 9.6 volts during cranking. If you find it drops to, ... Say, 4 volts, or even 0 volts, there's a bad connection in one of the large battery cables.

Next, leave the negative meter probe on the engine block, and move the red lead to the smaller "solenoid" terminal on the solenoid. You'll find 0 volts there until the ignition switch is turned to "crank". Then you should see around 11 or 12 volts there. If you see 0 volts yet, there's a break in the circuit between there and the ignition switch. That break could be in the ignition switch itself, the neutral safety switch, the terminals in their connectors, or one of the wires between those points. If it comes to that, I'm going to have to try to find a service manual with a wiring diagram.
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Thursday, September 18th, 2014 AT 8:36 PM
Tiny
JOSHUA1978
  • MEMBER
Getting a volt meter will take a while as my ride and my cash flow are both on the very limited side my only issue is if my jumpers were not on properly then I don't think at least I would have had lights ether way my friend and I did know that much and made sure each time the jumpers were not the issue
the other thing is if the starter button was hooked up right then wouldn't that correct the starter ignition switch if it was the problem I do remember something the car would do when it was still running when I would start it for the first time in the day mostly during fall and winter the car would just click and not want to start I thought this was some sort of safety thing because sometimes it would start for me when I would turn everything off put my seat belt on put the gear shift from park into low and then all the way into park then it would start or sometimes not our winters out here are wet and sloppy if that helps it would only throw that fit in cold wet weather and only the first start up of the day other wise she would start right up
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Friday, September 19th, 2014 AT 1:53 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
That goes back to suspecting a warped solenoid housing, which I never ran into on a Nippendenso starter, but the clicking is REAL common. That's due to the solenoid contacts I mentioned. A lot of hardware stores and farm and home stores have kits for around 12 bucks to fix that. If that's what you have now, you still would have that single, loud clunk each time you hit your switch.

You're right about that switch bypassing the ignition switch. It would bypass the neutral safety switch too, so hopefully we can rule that entire circuit out.

We really need to see exactly what you have for voltage between the engine block and the smaller solenoid terminal on the starter. That will tell us where to go next.
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Friday, September 19th, 2014 AT 2:29 AM
Tiny
JOSHUA1978
  • MEMBER
Then we are at an in-pass until I can get that done but you did give me good news the saftey switch is like any where from 200-300 bucks ouch I really dont care about a noise as long as my cars starts and this is my frustration
i have replaced the whole starter you know more then I do so you know that on a lot of gm the starter and solenoid is one unit I replaced the whole thing with a brand new one I know its not imposable but I really can't see my starter being the issue its brand new
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Friday, September 19th, 2014 AT 3:36 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Use a screwdriver or some other metal object to touch the two terminals on the solenoid together. You want the big one with the battery cable, and the smaller one. That should make the starter crank the engine. If it does not, we have to look at those large cables and their connections.

Oops. I just remembered, you don't have a GM starter. You have a Nippendenso unit. You'll probably need a piece of wire to jump the two terminals together, and it will have to be heavy enough to handle around 15 amps.
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Friday, September 19th, 2014 AT 8:02 PM

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