Bad Starter ??

Discussion in 'Other Auto Tech' started by danny04GT, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. Ok, so my wifes Mitsubishi Galant has been out of commission for about a month. I checked the timing belt, spark etc. The engine would crank but the car wouldnt start. Saturday I sprayed starter fluid in the throttle while it was cranking and it started right up.

    I have been fooling with it for the past few weekends and finally decided to take it into a shop the other day. Yesterday the mechanic called me and said there were alot of spiders under the hood and he refused to work on it :fuss:

    When I went to tow the car home this morning the mechanic told me it started fine for him and I could drive it home. :shrug: Sure nuff it did. He told me it was the starter causing my issues.

    Does this make sense to anyone? I though if the starter was going bad it wouldnt crank. I'm not sure if he just said that because he was too chicken to diagnose it properly. I can do the starter myself, but I dont want to spend $200 on a starter I dont need.
  2. NEVER go back to that mechanic again. For one, he's a mechanic - it's just job to get dirty. If he can't handle a few cobwebs, then he's clearly in the wrong business. And if he thinks that a car that cranks but won't start has a bad starter, he apparently didn't pay attention during his ASE classes. :notnice:

    It IS possible that you have an intermittent problem with something such as a relay, a bad ground and/or bad connection somewhere, but chasing it down is going to be the fun part.

    If it's cranking over, then forget the starter as being an issue at all - it's job is only to make the motor turn, nothing more. You then have to verify that you're getting all three of the essentials: AIR, FUEL, and SPARK. Usually it's fuel or spark, very rarely an issue with air supply.

    Check your fuel pressure with a fuel pressure gauge, both at initial ignition-on prime and when cranking. See what kind of numbers it comes up with. If it's getting less than 20 psi at prime, you've probably got a weak fuel pump. Also, when you first turn the key to the running position (not START), listen to hear if the fuel pump clicks and whirrs for a second or two as it primes the system. If it's not kicking on, you need to then verify that the relay is working; if that's kosher, then you likely have a bad fuel pump.

    Unless your car has a distributorless ignition system (DIS), pop the distributor cap off and check for corrosion or burn marks inside the cap or on its contacts, or on the rotor.

    Verify that you're getting 12 volts to the ignition coil from the ignition switch. If not, you likely have a faulty ignition switch (not the lock and tumbler, but the electrical portion). If that's good, see if you're getting spark from the coil to the distributor (unless your vehicle has DIS, which just uses one or more coil packs) by pulling the dizzy end of the coil wire and sticking a plug on there, then laying it on the engine block where you can see it while you (or someone else) crank(s) the engine. There's also a tool available at most parts places that plugs between two connection points (between a plug and wire, or between the coil wire and dizzy cap) so you can see if you're getting spark. If not, you've either got a bad coil wire and/or bad coil. If that's all good, pull a plug, and verify that you're getting spark from the distributor to the plugs with the same plug-laid-on-the-block method or specialty tool; if not, you could have a bad distributor cap/rotor, plug wire(s), ignition module, and/or a bad distributor.

    Rule out all of those basic details as possible causes, first. If none applies, then things start to get more interesting...
  3. It does have coil packs and I was getting good voltage at each of the plugs. I was thinking it was fuel related cause the car would run when I sprayed starter fluid in the throttle. I could hear the fuel pump whine when cranking the car but it could have been clogged or running low pressure.

    Is a fuel pressure gauge something they would loan out at an autozone?
  4. No, but they do sell them there. It's a very nice tool to have handy for future use, so you'd be wise to grab one. Mine's saved me from dropping the fuel tank and throwing on a pump unnecessarily a time or two, already, because I was able to verify that I was getting sufficient pressure at the rails.

    If it's a fuel issue, it could either be a bad fuel pressure regulator, weak fuel pump, and/or a clogged fuel filter ... or, for whatever reason, the computer telling the fuel injectors to not fire at all, or even to DUMP fuel which could result in an over-rich condition. If you haven't already replaced the fuel filter recently, I'd go ahead and swap that out for peace of mind - cheap and simple, and even if it doesn't remedy the problem, it's one less thing to worry about later on. From there, you can see if you're getting good pressure to the rails and, if so, narrow it down to something on the front-end of the car (pressure regulator, or other issues).