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Does not crank...Everything else lights up. Any ideas before I replace the starter?

983 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  ylwagon
2000 B5 GLS Wagon ATQ - 2.8 V6...Just replaced the water pump (!) two weeks ago. Car ran fine for 5 or 6 days and then - No Crank! Checked the fuses, electrical getting to the solenoid when the key is turned. Anything else to try before I commit to a new starter/solenoid?

TIA for keeping this geriatric (197,800 miles) VW on the road!

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Don't change the starter unless you first check that the solenoid is being powered when attempting to start. You'll need to get a wire with alligator clips attached to the solenoid terminal, alongside the car's solenoid wire, and run that to a grounded 12V test lamp. If the bulb lights when the key is turned to "Start", then time to pull the starter to exchange or repair. If no light, the problem is elsewhere, perhaps the ignition switch. Also, while that wire is attached to the solenoid, if the other end is touched to the battery + terminal, the starter motor should run.

Edit: I missed where you said "electrical getting to the solenoid", but that should be explained. For example, if you hooked a DVM between the solenoid terminal and ground, you might easily read battery voltage when the key is turned, appearing to mean the circuit is OK. But there could be a dirty or burned contact in the circuit causing thousands of Ohms resistance, and while there would not be enough current for the solenoid to work, the meter (because of its extremely high resistance) would show battery voltage or very close to that. This is why the recommendation to use a light bulb (and not a Voltmeter) to check the circuit.
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I'm not convinced that a heat wave can kill a starter motor, but who knows? However, checking the starter on the car is way easier than removing it, then toting the thing to Autozone.
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If he is probing the solenoid's + terminal and ground, the starter and the voltmeter are in parallel, so if there is high series resistance through the wiring or the maze of relays, then a high voltage does indicate that electric power is being delivered to the starter.
You are right; I completely overlooked the fact that the solenoid terminal grounds through the hold-coil and the pull-in coil- that one through the starter winding's themselves. Both coils are low resistance, so unless neither of them were grounded (say, the starter motor is un-bolted from the engine), high-resistance somewhere else in the circuit would not allow battery voltage to be measured at that solenoid terminal.
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