View Full Version : Starter System Checks Out, But Starter Doesn't Spin

05-13-2008, 08:21 PM
I have an 87 Ford Indmar Mastercraft. I took it out of winter storage, replaced the drain plugs, impeller, reconnected the hoses, reinstalled the battery, turned the key and heard, “click”.

The voltage meter on the dash read low, so I thought my battery was low and decided it was time for a new one. After replacing that, I turned the key again and heard, “click”.

I had a spare starter in my basement that I thought worked (long story) so I put that in. Again, “click”.

I went and bought a new relay and installed that. Again, “click”.

The wire connecting the relay to the starter was getting hot, so I thought that might be the problem. I replaced that. Guess what? “click”.

I tightened everything down so I wouldn’t have a loose connection. “click”.

I asked the guys at my local boat shop to test the starter – they said it bench tested great.

I then used jumpers to bypass the battery cables to the relay. “click”.

Then bypassed the relay and went directly to the starter. “click”.

Everything from the battery leads, to the battery lead to the starter reads 12.45 volts. No loss in voltage.

The only thing I can’t figure out (other than why it will not turn) is why the dash voltage meter reads low – around 9.

I am out of tricks and knowledge. Any thoughts on what this could be?

Any help would be appreciated.

05-13-2008, 08:40 PM
The first thing i would do now is try to turn the motor by hand use ahaft drive socket set. the motor could be lock with fluid or sezed.

05-13-2008, 08:44 PM
Yea, second that.

Also, don't forget the ground side...

05-13-2008, 08:57 PM
I turned the flywheel and the motor didn't turn at all.... I didn't even consider that it could be seized.

05-13-2008, 08:58 PM
Yes, I checked the ground side.

05-13-2008, 09:00 PM
It will take quite a bit of effort to turn the flywheel by hand. As was suggested, try a socket on a breaker bar.

05-13-2008, 09:45 PM
before reading this please realize that I am clueless about engines...but what about the solenoid?

From Wikipedia...

Starter solenoids can also be built into the starter itself, often visible on the outside of the starter. If a starter solenoid receives insufficient power from the battery, it will fail to start the motor, and may produce a rapid 'clicking' or 'clacking' sound. This can be caused by a low or dead battery, by corroded or loose connections in the cable, or by a broken or damaged positive (red) cable from the battery. Any of these will result in some power to the solenoid, but not enough hold the heavy contacts closed, so the starter motor itself never spins, and the engine is not rotated (does not start).

05-13-2008, 09:59 PM
I appreciate the thought - and the disclaimer! I, too, am not an expert.

Because the solenoid is connected to the starter unit, and it bench tested out OK, I think that may not be it - and I've tried two starters (although heavily used) and had the same symptoms.

Based on gguppy's thoughts, I tought the starter system may be OK, but the cylinders may have rust in them causing the engine to seize.

After further review, it the engine was not able to turn over.

I took it into a shop and they are pulling it apart to see why it is locked.

This isn't going to be cheap!

05-14-2008, 06:44 PM
Update - just installed new battery cables. Nothing more than the click.

05-15-2008, 12:47 AM
If you are sure that the engine seems to turn fine then the problem has to be with the starting system.


You have a fully charged battery.
Everything seems to be tight.

Do a voltage drop from the center of the +post to the center of the + terminal on the starter. Note: you have to turn the key to get a reading. The reading you want is o volts.

Do the same with the - terminal.

If both of those check out good:

Take the small wire off the starter. Get a small jumper wire and clip one end onto the + wire terminal of the starter. (This will bypass the whole system except the starter system) Touch the other end on the starter where you took off the spade connector. The motor will not fire but should turn over.

If it still clicks then you need to see how many amps the starter is drawing. An amp clamp is needed. clip this on the big + wire. If it is drawing over 500 amps I would say that is excessive.

Good luck

05-15-2008, 11:46 PM
If you haven't already, remove every wire in the circuit (both positive and negative, both big battery cables, and small switch cables on the switch, selenoid and starter). After you remove them clean and put di-electric grease on them. Don't forget the grease. I can't tell you how many hours I have spent tracing non-starting problems only to have di-electric grease be the fix.