View Full Version : Starter Problems

08-14-2007, 01:32 PM
A few weeks ago, my starter would click once or twice before it cranked. So I thought I would be smart and fix it before it left me on the water somewhere. I started with the quick and cheap fix and replaced the slave solenoid (~$10). As luck would have it, that wasn't it. So I pulled the solenoid off that is mounted to the starter. There was a small amount of rust on the spring. I cleaned it up and put it right back in. When I started the boat, it clicked a couple of times like before and then sparked. It actually sparked twice in the several times that I tried to crank it. It would still crank, but the sparks scare me. None of the wires are touching and all connections are good and uncorroded. Anything like this ever happen to anyone? Any thoughts???

08-14-2007, 03:34 PM
Your starter is going bad...rebuilds are about $100 where I live. Check voltage at the starter when you engage it, I bet it drops below 12V as soon as you hit the key. I always replace the selenoid when I do the starter just for giggles, they are about $20.

08-14-2007, 03:35 PM
<<It actually sparked twice in the several times that I tried to crank it. It would still crank, but the sparks scare me.>>

Spark = boom!! Get that thing out of there!

08-14-2007, 04:25 PM
Actually, dropping below 12Vdc is pretty normal. That's the whole idea behind the bypass on an ignition switch- the voltage drop during cranking is added to by the ballast resistor and if that was still in-circuit, the motor wouldn't see spark of sufficient intensity, so it wouldn't start.

If it drops below 10Vdc, it's bad.

08-14-2007, 08:30 PM
Poor or corroded connection may cause unwanted resistance.
this can affect accuracy of sensor inputs and outputs.

Excessive unwanted circuit resistance may also cause circuit components to operate poorly or not at all if circuit voltage drops below normal.

Measuring voltage drop is a better way of checking circuit resistance than just performing a ohm check across a dead circuit.

The circuit must be energized for a voltage drop to be performed.

Suggested maximum voltage drops:
High current positive 200-500mv
high current negative 100mv

electronic pcm circuits 50mv,
light gauge low current circuits 90-100mv

Solenoid switch contacts 300mv

DVOM meters are cheap and should be carried on board in your tool kit.
get familiar with its function, make some checks when your boat is working fine so you're not caught off guard.

hope this helps

08-14-2007, 09:22 PM
Thanks. I'm not real familiar with checking across the starter and solenoids. Where do I place the prongs when checking these voltage drops. Also, I'm a little nervous about holding the meter down there if it sparks. I'm actually just thinking of replacing the starter anyway. I can get one for about $50. That's not much money considering the risks.

I also noticed a voltage drop on the dash gauge and a noise in my speakers when I turn on the "Access" switch. It turns on one of the lights in the cabin, but I'm not sure what (if anything) else. I worked tonight to try and track it all down, but that's not a fun or easy task.

Thanks again for everyone's help!!!

08-15-2007, 02:29 PM
Positive lead on red wire post on starter and neg lead grounded on engine block. I agree...just replace it...but $50 sounds like an automotive starter, not a marine which is sealed more than automotive. Most shops can rebuild yours for less than $100. Regarding the voltage drop discussion above, I meant drop way below 12V, like 8-10V, sorry I wasn't more specific.

08-15-2007, 03:35 PM
Another thing about fried starters and alternators- flogging a dead starter will kill a battery about as fast as anything. Repeatedly killing the battery because the alternator doesn't charge or the bridge is bad is just about as fast. If the battery dies completely while trying to start a motor will kill the battery and the starter.

08-15-2007, 09:29 PM
Thanks...I started tracking down the wires tonight and found a light that wasn't working in the livewell...but a burnt bulb or bad light wouldn't cause a short would it. I'm just struggling trying to decide which is the cause and which is the effect. I need to know which rabbit hole to run down. I also had a light in the engine cover and now can't find the wire since I had my prop/shaft work down at the MC dealer. I keep hoping to find a wire shorting out, but haven't yet....I can't seem to find the smoking gun!!! Sorry for all the cliches!!!

08-15-2007, 11:05 PM
There aren't very many connections between the starter and the battery positive terminal, but they all need to be clean and tight. It's also not hard to overtighten a nut on a solenoid and ruin it. The trigger form the ignition switch is usually not the cause but I would suspect that less than the solenoid, starter, battery and its connections/terminals. It's easy enough to activate the solenoid without using the key- look for the yellow/red wire and connect it to the battery cable. If the starter cranks every time but it won't when turning the key, you know the switch or the wiring to the solenoid is faulty. When you use the trigger wire on the solenoid, you don't need to worry as much about sparks but since your face is going to be close to it, wear safety glasses anyway.

08-27-2007, 01:44 AM
Not sure of the outcome here. When I had the solenoid on my starter replaced, the guy at the shop tested it for me before I left. Not sure if any of the automotive places have the same capability.

08-31-2007, 11:50 AM
Thanks everybody. It actually ended up being the grounding prong between the starter and the solenoid mounted to it. The prong should completely encircle the ground coming from that solenoid and it didn't. $21 later it does and everything's good. Thanks!!!