bad starter / solenoid ?

Discussion in 'General Chevy & GM Tech Questions' started by RATRODKING, Oct 14, 2012.


    RATRODKING Rockstar 100 Posts

    guys, my truck is really driving me crazy this past week or so...

    new battery two weeks ago, then this past week i have installed a new ignition module, spark plugs, wires, rotor, cap, EGR valve, EGR vacuum solenoid, TPS, IAC valve, and knock sensor.
    today it started 3 different times, while running errands, then, when hot, went back to the truck after shutting it off for about 2 minutes, turned the key, and nothing. did not attempt to turn over at all, no sounds from the starter or solenoid. called my buddy who is a mechanic and he said as long as i had power to everything like the radio and headlights, it sounded like i needed a new starter and solenoid.
    so from up top, under the hood, i was tapping on the solenoid and starter, tried this a few times, and still nothing.
    then i crawled under the truck and hit the bottom of the starter and solenoid, then i got it to fire.
    so i went to autozone and left it running, bought a new starter and solenoid, came home and installed it, and so far it has started the 5-6 times i tried it.
    do the no starting symptoms sound like i needed a new starter ?
    oh yea, i have a 1990 k1500 4x4 with 5.7

    thanks for the help guys..
  2. RayVoy

    RayVoy Epic Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts

    Your description sounds like the problem was at the starter. You may have been able to rebuilt it (or, get it rebuilt), but the truck would have been out of service for a few days.

    Time, as they say, will tell.
  3. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Epic Member Staff Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Not a guarantee but yes it does sound like the solenoid was going bad.
    To bad it's next to impossible to buy just the solenoid or a solenoid rebuild kit, with older vehicles you used to have this option and it would save money, not any more though.

    RATRODKING Rockstar 100 Posts

    thanks guys..... i went with a new starter that was $80.00, compared to a rebuilt that was $50.00..... i like new parts whenever possible.
    yes, time will tell.
    thanks guys
  5. The Heater

    The Heater Rockstar 100 Posts

    I like to rebuild what I have. I have a trusted auto electric rebuilder I have dealt with for over 25 years, though. They can replace the solenoid by itself. I don't personally know how your truck is set up.

    If you need your truck for daily transportation and you are a do it yourselfer, then rebuilding, as one person already noted, is not a viable option for you.

    I think only your solenoid was bad, but the way you describe it, it sounds as though you bypassed it and the starter still didn't work, which might point to the starter. These of course are very crude ways of "testing" your starter system and an auto electric shop has better ways to tell what is going on. Having driven a lot of vehicles for over over 40 years, 90% of the time I have had a similar problem as yours, it is the solenoid, not the starter. The dead giveaway is there is no clicking sound when you turn the key to "start". The problem you had was different in that you said you crossed the solenoid terminals and it still did not start.

    Electrical conductor resistance increases with temperature. If there was a failing but not failed part in the solenoid, like a bad contact, it may only work if it is cold. However, this same principle applies to the starter, so it is hard to say without first replacing the solenoid or taking it out and testing it (since it is less expensive) first to rule it out as the source of the problem.

    RATRODKING Rockstar 100 Posts

    yea, being the truck is my only mode of transportation, i had to get it running late sunday so i could get to work monday morning, today. i too agree it was probably only the solenoid, but while i had it down, and believing it was the original starter from 1990, i wanted to swap it all out.
    i cant thank you guys here enough for all your help with all my little problems.
    thanks again
  7. RayVoy

    RayVoy Epic Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts

    If you can buy a new starter for $80 and change it yourself, you did the right thing.

    RATRODKING Rockstar 100 Posts

  9. Boonduff

    Boonduff Rockstar 4 Years 100 Posts

    My '97 Suburban was doing exactly the same thing as your truck a few months ago. I figured that with the starter spending 15 years right beside the hot exhaust and 15 years of 115 degree summers it's time to replace it. Took it to the local Napa and had it tested, intending to buy a new one anyway. It tested out fine. The counterman suggested that before I spend the big bucks for a starter, replace the starter relay. When failing, it can cause the same symptoms as a failing solenoid. So $12 bucks later the truck fired right up and hasn't failed to start since. Figured I'd share just in case you problem isn't solved with the new starter.

    RATRODKING Rockstar 100 Posts

    WOW... thanks much for the info on the relay...
    where would mine be located on my 1990 ?
    thanks a ton... i will buy one

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