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405 starter problem, long term

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My Mi16 (summer car) has had a starter problem going back more than a year. I should mention that, long ago, I installed a relay and heavy wire to the solenoid. I believe it's wire number 47 that we interrupt to get more power to the starter. Now it no longer matters.

A year ago, I had a few experiences where I had to call AAA or use my portable battery pack to get going. Even if I knew I had a fully charged battery, I might get in, turn the key and get an errrr, pause, errrr, pause, errrr. After a few such experiences, I installed a new starter (with solenoid attached) and things were good for a while.

Fast forward thru the winter - I don't drive it in winter.

I now have a new battery, of course, having killed my three-year old battery from all the recharging. In case you're asking.....there is no clicking when I turn the key. Headlight on and they don't dim. I should have enough power to move the starter for a few seconds.

Now the starter sounds a bit different. Turn the key and get errRERRrr, pause,  errRERRrr, pause, errRERRrr, pause, etc. Not getting anywhere. So last week, I pulled the intake manifold and checked the starter. Wiring still tight, two starter mounting bolts a bit loose. Tighten the bolts, tighten the wiring even more, test wire continuity. Put everything back together. Buy a new set of spark plugs, get the plug wires from my old set. 1, 2, 3 threads are black but otherwise okay. Number 4? When I pull the wire, the top half of the plug comes with it!. Even better, pulling the coil wires off the distributor cap, one thru four are okay, but pulling the coil wire off the distributor cap gives me the nipple right off the cap! Wha'???

Replace all four spark plugs, get a used dist. cap, put everything back together. Start it up - it runs great! I am happy. I guess I found the problemS. Now, not having anywhere to go, turn it off and go into the house. Next day, turn the key.........nothing. No reaction at all. Do all the usual checks. Nothing.

When I turn the key, I get no sounds, just lights. The full bunch of lights on the instrument cluster. What the...??

Figuring I must've done something bad during last week's attempt, I pull everything off, down to the intake manifold. Can't find anything wrong, put it all back and try it again.

Now, when I turn the key to the OFF position, the battery indicator is on. With key ON: check engine, battery indicator, brake, all gauges, engine fan ON. STOP, oil level and warning lights are OFF. Turning key to START extinguished the battery indicator, the rest still on.  The starter "has left the room".

 

Sorry to take so long, but no use leaving out any details. I'm totally lost. I have purchased two sets of TDK plugs and new wires and fuel injectors are on the way. I figure I haven't thrown enough money at it yet. Oh yeah, I've already swapped out the coil with a known-good coil from my previous Mi16. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

Thanks,

fs

 

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Hi fs,

The fact that your lights don't dim tells me that the circuit isn't completing.  This could be a stuck starter solenoid - but you can test this with 12V directly to the starter bypassing the switch. Could also be the ignition switch itself isn't passing the signal to the relay anymore as well - again it's easy to isolate by testing with power directly to the starter.

If all that checks out - I had similar symptoms years ago when my Mom's 1988 Dodge Omni did the same thing.  We took it to a couple different shops but everything checked out.  I was in grade 10 maybe at the time and was troubleshooting it and that night I dreamed the solution - it was the engine ground.  

Next morning I immediate pulled and cleaned all the ground connections in the starting circuit.  Neg battery post, block ground connection, chassis ground connection - basically everything I could find.  Also did the Positive cable and connections at the starter as well.  (All connections pulled apart, wire brushed, and coated with dielectric grease.)

Car started perfectly from that moment on.  Of all the connections I did, the ground cable to block had a white hard corrosion on the cable that took some effort to clean off, but was only on the mating surfaces of the connection - looked completely fine and was tight otherwise.

So - That's my advice if the starter and switch checks out - connections or cables.  Replace any of the cables that show any corrosion on the copper inside the wire jackets at the connections as well.  Internally corroded battery cables would also do it.  Continuity only tells a partial story as it also needs to support cranking amps.

Rabin

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Good luck!

This is bringing back bad memories of my 405 DL.  I changed its starter twice.  Then the Mercedes that replaced it ate two starters in short order.  But since its warranty ended, the past 200,000 km or so, it's been fine.

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If not for the fact that the starter is basically a necessity for automotive use, I'd just give up on this starter problem and forget about it, much as one might do without a radio or A/C. But I've spent the past week pulling all the pieces that lead up to the intake manifold, checking everything, finding nothing.

 

Touching the hot lead to the battery + post, gets a pleasant spark but nothing's turning over. Refreshed the negative battery clamp, the G1 body post to which the starter body should have contact. Everything is consistent. Which is: any two pieces of steel show something less than one ohm resistance, all wires that should show continuity, do. Nothing looks out of place. Except maybe.....resistance between the spade post on the solenoid and body of same is one ohm. Does that sound right? I pulled out an old starter w. solenoid and it also shows one ohm trigger post to body. I presume that starter is in my collection because it's no good. Would this mean that the current (one yr. old) starter is no good for that reason? If so, it would be easy to get it fixed or get another one, again. It would also beg the question: why is my car blowing the starters on an annual basis?

 

Am I making progress, or just spinning my (and not the car's) wheels?  Thanks,

fs

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To test the starter you need to short the main + stud on the starter solenoid to the spade connection on the starter solenoid - they're usually close and can be jumped with an old screw driver or similar metal, but it's a good load and will spark / damage the metal you use slightly.  It's that smaller (usually spade) connection on the starter solenoid that needs +12V applied to it energize the solenoid which then makes the connection between the + cable to the starter motor itself through the solenoid.

Picture of you starter might be the biggest help and then I can tell you some tests to run to ensure it's working properly.  A test light could also be used to test your switch and the relay mod are also still working.

I personally just like to start with verifying the starter and solenoid are known good first before messing with the switch start circuit.

Rabin

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I hope i'm not too late, to give my explanation and experience.

From experience the Mi16 engines are very tight interference engines, i know my car if i haven't driven it for more than 3 days, first cranking sounds like my battery is dying, barely turns over, i never crank a vehicle more than 10-15 seconds, second crank it fires as normal like the battery is full, my theory is the oil pump lubricates everything and the engine can turn over faster on the second crank.

All 405 have very thin ground cables from the engine to the chassis, i've upgraded them on every vehicle i've owned. Changing starters on Mi16 engine is not fun the intake manifold needs to come off, if you unbolt the throttle body there is no need to drain any coolant and no need to adjust the throttle cable.

If you leave in the rust belt check the battery cable, the old fashioned way, put thick jumper cables from the battery to the starter and listen is it cracking faster.

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