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Thread: Trouble starting, but not running!

  1. #1

    Default Trouble starting, but not running!

    Hi all,

    My '91 runs like a top, for long distances and durations, but will only start a certain number of times (after being shut-off and re-started, at any interval) before it chugs, chugs, nothing. I cleaned-off the positive battery terminal and charged-up the battery, and it was working great after that for a few starts; however, I hear it starting to get a bit chuggy again, suggesting that charging the battery may have masked another problem.

    In light of these issues and the fact that the car runs fine when up-and-running, I'm assuming that the alternator is not charging the battery but is supplying all of the car's circuitry just fine when running. What would cause this?

    The battery is only a few years old and the car is stored inside, with a tender on it during the winter.

    Thanks to all for your help!
    1991 MGM GS - stock summer cruiser, with lovely A/C
    1977 Cougar XR7 - stock summer cruiser, with no A/C
    2009 G8 GT - un-stock summer cruiser
    A couple of Elantra Tourings - I have a strange obsession with them!

  2. #2
    GMN Regular
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    Default

    Time to break out the multimeter and measure voltages. You should be able to put your positive lead on the charge cable on the alt and then ground to the case to see what the alt is putting out while running. Also test at the battery terminals with the car off and also running. Could be the alt not keeping up. May also want to check ALL the grounds on the car as well to make sure they are clean and tight.
    These are highly engineered precision vehicles, the first step in diagnosing the problem is to strike the suspected offending part sharply and repeatedly with a blunt object, then re-test.

  3. #3
    Still Wrenchin'! friskyfrankie's Avatar
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    Yep - wiring (grounds) and alternator production would be the first few things to check.
    What I Own: 1993 Mercury Grand Marquis GS
    What I Help Maintain: 1996 CV / 1988 CV / 1988 Tempo

  4. #4
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    Could also be the starter heat soaking causing a slow crank. It’s a common issue. Is the starter original?

  5. #5

    Default

    Hi all! So I think the starter is indeed the issue (I came to that conclusion even before seeing 87GrandMarq's comment, but good to know it's a known issue). I don't know if the starter is original, but it's definitely older than my having bought the car. I've never felt an engine bay as hot as this car (including that of my brother's turbo T/A!), so it could be heat soak or just heat degradation. Honestly, I don't know what goes on under the hood of these things, but dat heat!!!

    The output from the alternator is good, the battery is good, but the starting is inconsistent: yesterday it was pretty sluggish until it wouldn't start at all. Key off, try again, and it sprang to life. So, maybe dirty brushes or slip rings or something. I'll see if I can clean it up.

    Does anyone have the P/N handy so I can be sure I get the right starter when I look for a replacement?
    1991 MGM GS - stock summer cruiser, with lovely A/C
    1977 Cougar XR7 - stock summer cruiser, with no A/C
    2009 G8 GT - un-stock summer cruiser
    A couple of Elantra Tourings - I have a strange obsession with them!

  6. #6
    Still Wrenchin'! friskyfrankie's Avatar
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    Dec 2021
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    Default

    Can always check with RockAuto, at least for a part number.
    What I Own: 1993 Mercury Grand Marquis GS
    What I Help Maintain: 1996 CV / 1988 CV / 1988 Tempo

  7. #7

    Default

    Yeah, they're not always correct (twice I've gotten the wrong brake calipers for my Elantras from RA), but I've correlated their results with Amazon and they seem to agree, so that's something .
    1991 MGM GS - stock summer cruiser, with lovely A/C
    1977 Cougar XR7 - stock summer cruiser, with no A/C
    2009 G8 GT - un-stock summer cruiser
    A couple of Elantra Tourings - I have a strange obsession with them!

  8. #8
    Still Wrenchin'! friskyfrankie's Avatar
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    Dec 2021
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    546

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    ALWAYS double check part numbers no matter where you find them.
    What I Own: 1993 Mercury Grand Marquis GS
    What I Help Maintain: 1996 CV / 1988 CV / 1988 Tempo

  9. #9
    GMN Regular
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    I would get a high torque mini starter from LMR. They’re less prone to heat soak.

  10. #10
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    91 should have that already.

    for what it may or may not be worth, I've never heat soaked either style of starter on a panther. They can get weak over time though. I had what I thought was a dying starter on my S10, turned out to be the starter-mounted solenoid dropping too much voltage. The practical fix there is a new starter because those are on the shelf and a solenoid is not but it had the same slow-crank issue either way. The later Ford starters are the same basic design as the Chevy ones with the solenoid mounted to the side of the starter.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  11. #11
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    I've heat soaked the solenoid on the OE starter on my 93. The one on the 88 MGM I used to have stopped throwing/pushing out the engagement gear. I have yet to have the actual starter motor have issues in any of my vehicles. I know plenty of people who have had starter motor issues though. I've helped replace a few of those.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
    rides: 93 Crown Vic LX (The Red Velvet Cake), 2000 Crown Vic base model (Sandy), 2003 Expedition (the vacation beast)
    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73
    ... and it should all work like magic and unicorns and stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by dmccaig
    Overhead, some poor bastards are flying in airplanes.

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