1992 Cadillac Deville Car starting problem

Tiny
SEAN03
  • MEMBER
  • 1992 CADILLAC DEVILLE
  • 4.9L
  • V8
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 136,000 MILES
Hi I have a 1992 Cadillac Deville. When I drive it for awhile and then shut it off and leave it off for a miute and come back to start it it acts like it is dead. I put the key in the ignition and turn it to start it nothing only the dash lights come up that's it. I had the battery and alternator checked they were good. After an hour and a half of letting it sit it starts right back up again. Like nothing happened. Advanced did a full check on it and said the battery and alternator were good but they could not check the starter. They said I had to take it out and then they could test it. What do you think they think it is the starter or the solenoid on it. Also how hard is it to take this starter out. Thanks.
Do you
have the same problem?
Yes
No
Friday, January 10th, 2014 AT 11:55 PM

10 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Removing a generator or a starter from the engine is the worst and least effective way to test them. You got that advice from a parts salesman, not a mechanic. Test benches have up to one horsepower motors to run generators. They can not possibly run them wide open to test them for maximum current output. That takes from five to eight horsepower, and that test is especially important on the very poorly-designed GM generators. They develop huge voltage spikes that can destroy its internal diodes and voltage regulator. With one defective diode of the six, you will only get exactly one third of the unit's rated current, and that is not enough to run the entire electrical system under all conditions. The battery will have to make up the difference until it slowly runs down over hours or days. You need a professional load tester with the generator being run by the car's engine to test for maximum output current and "ripple" voltage, both indicators of a bad diode. A generator with a bad diode will still produce some current, and output voltage will be close to correct, so the unit will falsely appear to be good on a test bench.

Off the engine a starter spinning freely will draw less than 50 amps. Any tired old starter can do that. You need to test it under load when it's trying to crank the engine. During that test Chrysler starters will draw around 150 amps. Most others will draw around 200 amps, ... Even more on older V-8 engines.

You are getting no response at all from the starter. A weak battery, or a battery that is run down due to a defective generator will not cause that. Those will cause slow cranking or a rapid clicking / buzzing noise. Starting normally after an hour and a half proves the battery is still okay. It didn't magically fix itself. And the generator is not the cause of this issue because it isn't even in the picture yet until after the engine is running.

Starters CAN be intermittent but that is not real common and it doesn't stay in the condition for long before it fails completely. Your mechanic can perform one starter test on the car to see how much current it draws, but the results will be of no use to you. We know it's not dragging and drawing excessive current because it does crank the engine normally when the system works. It is more likely there is an intermittent problem in the control circuit, meaning the ignition switch, starter relay, and neutral safety switch. That is a low-current circuit but it has more parts than the high-current starter circuit, and it is responsible for a lot more problems. Starter testers do not test anything in that low-current circuit.

There's two relatively common things you can try yourself. First try cranking the engine with the transmission shifted to "neutral" or after shifting out of and back into "park". If that works, suspect the neutral safety switch. Next, follow the smaller positive battery wire to the under-hood fuse box and be sure that connection is clean and tight. Those work lose on a lot of car models and cause intermittently dead electrical systems.

Any further testing has to be done while the problem is occurring. As long as the entire starter system is dead, (not just cranking too slowly), and everything else is working, the system can be broken down into four parts, and each one has a test point at the starter relay socket. If you find anything else is also dead, like any lights, the radio, power windows, etc, you don't have a starter system problem. You have some other electrical problem that includes the starter system. Spending time in the starter circuit in that case is a waste of time.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
+1
Saturday, January 11th, 2014 AT 12:52 AM
Tiny
SEAN03
  • MEMBER
It did say on the paperwork that he ran while checking the alternator and battery that their was a low current circuit problem. To me it seamed like it was the starter just the way it acted and I wish I had my multimeter so I could have either tested it or ruled it out. The guy tried selling me that he thought it was because my leveling kit for the shocks kept adjusting and that was causing all the problems and that I should just disconnect it and it would be fine. But so far in the last 2 or 3 days since I did that it has not died like it was doing so I am not sure what is going on. I still think it is the starter. But I now have a multimeter in the car so if it does try to act up I can test it and rule some things out. Is their a way to test the starter truly by it still being in the car. Thanks.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
-2
Saturday, January 11th, 2014 AT 10:41 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You need a professional load tester to test starters. They use an inductive pickup probe to measure current flow, and they measure what the battery voltage gets drawn down to during cranking.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
+1
Sunday, January 12th, 2014 AT 12:12 AM
Tiny
KINGDOMBUILDER
  • MEMBER
Hi I have basically the same problem. I have a 1994 Cadillac Deville. When I drive it for awhile and then shut it off and leave it off for a minute and come back to start it it acts like it is dead. I put the key in the ignition and turn it to start and it doesn't hardly want to turn over making a grrrr sound but then it does start up. It seems to be heat related as it starts up just fine when the engine is cold but not when it is hot. The battery is a new AC-Delco and the terminals are clean and tight. What do you think would cause this when the engine is hot?
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
+1
Thursday, February 20th, 2014 AT 9:56 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Your symptoms are a little different and suggest the field coils in the starter may be warping causing the armature to drag. That can be identified by measuring starter current with a load tester with an inductive pickup. Instead of the normal 150 amps, you'll find around 200 or more. One of the brushes could be worn too but that's harder to identify. The starter motor is actually two motors in one package. When one of the four brushes fails to make contact, only half of the motor will work, and that's not enough to crank the engine at the normal speed. Current flow will be half of normal, but because of the low cranking speed, "back EMF" will be reduced which opposes current flow, so the actual flow will go up and appear to be normal.

If that doesn't pan out, start a new question. When you piggyback on a different one it will only be seen by the three of us. One of the other experts may know exactly what is wrong but they will never see your post. That does a disservice to you.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Thursday, February 20th, 2014 AT 6:07 PM
Tiny
KINGDOMBUILDER
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the response and I hope you see this but I was wondering why would this problem be happening only when the engine is hot? I mean if I have bad brushes or a warped coil wouldn't I have this problem starting it sometimes when the engine is cold?

My battery cables look okay at the battery but I do see some white looking "corrosion" if that's what it is on the positive connection at the starter. I don't have the equip to test voltage and such nor do I want to have a mechanic put in a new starter if I don't need it as I am retired and do not have a lot of income. Would it be a good idea or a waste of time and trouble to disconnect the battery and the connection at the starter and clean this white looking residue/corrosion off of it?
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 AT 5:31 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You can start with cleaning and tightening the connections on the larger positive and negative battery cables, but without voltage measurements it's like asking your doctor why you're in pain but you won't let him do any tests. I need voltage readings to analyze. Beyond that, the most likely suspect is worn brushes inside the starter motor. When one doesn't make good contact, you only have half a starter. Current flow, if you had access to a load tester, would be near normal, but the voltage at the starter terminal would be higher than normal.

The way I would start is by measuring the voltage on the larger starter terminal when the engine is cold and the starter is working properly. It must be higher than 9.6 volts. Typically you'll find around 10.5 to 11.0 volts. Now you have a reference to compare to the reading when it's cranking too slowly. If the voltage then is higher, the starter isn't drawing enough current and loading down the battery. If the voltage is lower, the starter is drawing more current. That is usually due to the field coils warping when they're warm. That shouldn't be an issue with your starter. GM went away from field coils in favor of permanent magnets. If one of those breaks loose, the starter will never work properly at any time.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 AT 6:51 PM
Tiny
TARRANT
  • MEMBER
I have a 1992 Cadillac Eldorado with the exact problem. Sometimes it takes two and a half hours before it will start. Did Sean03 find out what was wrong wit his. I have spent $300.00 at a electrical shop and it is still doing it.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Saturday, January 23rd, 2016 AT 11:39 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
"Spent $300.00" doesn't help. You have to list what was tested, the results, and what has been done so far. You're better off starting a new question so all the experts can see it and have a chance to respond. Be sure to include the engine size and the exact symptoms. I've already listed the most likely causes of this problem based on the information I had.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, January 25th, 2016 AT 11:13 AM
Tiny
SEAN0308
  • MEMBER
Hi Tarrant I original posted this. Turns out It was 2 things I replaced the starter and it worked great. I know what caused it. I tilted the steering wheel and it started right up. You have o do it in different positions. It turns out my ignition switch is faulty. My friend is a mechanic and the orange wire running down the steering shaft was pinched. Causing the problem also. I would try moving the steering wheel up and down first when it happens if that is not the case take it to advance or autozone they should be able to tell if the starter is bad.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, January 25th, 2016 AT 4:00 PM

Please login or register to post a reply.

Recommended Guides