No crank, sometimes clicks and other times doesn't

Hobbyist4Life

Well-Known Member
Hi, it's me again! :bonk:

My '06 Envoy XL Denali 5.3L LH6 has stopped cranking out of the blue. It's been sitting in the scrapyard since late 2011, so I can't get shocked if the starter suddenly went bad.

When I attempt to start the vehicle, the starter sometimes clicks and doesn't turn over, while other times I can't even hear it click. There are also times where it just fires right up.

If it clicks, it will eventually work after an unknown number of attempts (every time is different). If it doesn't click however, I have no idea what to do!

Here's what I've done:
- Confirmed the relay is working properly.
- Sanded down the main connections from battery to fuse box (were a bit rusted and not providing electricity when I first bought the vehicle)
- Attempted removing the starter or at least check the wires back there (I was stranded in the street at the time) I unbolted the starter but couldn't either remove it or find the space to disconnect the wires, so I just banged it around and reinstalled it and wiggled the wires back and forth thinking it would start the vehicle if it was a no/loose connection.

After all that, I do believe that the starter needs replacing. I'm not sure what exactly went wrong with it, internally or externally. But I do, however, know that I need to get this fixed and have peace of mind that it will at least crank every single time!

Oh, and no, the battery is not the problem as I have purchased a new one after this problem started.

Awaiting suggestions on what to do next.

I do have another starter (from scrapyard) but I need to check it for functionality first.
 

MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Supporter
Given the Denali's "Salvage Yard Hiatus" of Eight Years...and in consideration that long periods of dormancy can invite Rust and Corrosion under such conditions... This Link would be a good place to "Start":


Check all of the Grounds relevant to the Starter Circuit by unbolting or unscrewing each one and after using a piece of Crocus Cloth to remove anything in between down to Bare Metal, apply a Dollop of Dielectric Grease to the surfaces and reattach the Eyelet(s) after Wire Brushing off any Green Corrosion or residue. This action alone could revive the Circuit well enough to Wake Up the Starter.

Then if the turn of the Ignition Key produces the same result... Review the Starter Circuit Diagram for any problems with the Circuit Breaker-Fuse issues for continuity ...and Test the Starter Circuit using the Relay Bypass Technique shown in @MAY03LT 's Video as this may disclose that there are NO possible problems being within the Starter Solenoid or from any excessive Electrical Resistance in the Stater Motor itself.


Eric "O" from South Main Auto covers (actually...uncovers) another No Crank No Start situation that focuses on the Starter Ignition Switch which may also be involved with additional Testing and Probing required:


Besides having a decent Digital Multi-Meter and a Pin Probe "Scope On A Rope" available in your Working Tool Kit... You'll be wise not to condemn the Starter outright without having looked these other areas over first.

You can also find all of the Diagrams you will need for such things by Downloading a Complete GM OEM Service Manual (Courtesy @Mooseman) at THIS Link for Best References for your Year/Make/Model SUV:


If it comes down to cases and you must replace the Starter... you will need to take additional actions described in this Video in order to get the Old Starter OUT and the New Starter IN:

 
Last edited:
OP
OP
H

Hobbyist4Life

Well-Known Member
@MRRSM Thanks for your suggestions, I'll be tackling some of them when I have the time.

As for now, it seems like I've skipped mentioning some of the troubleshooting that I've done.

I have already tried bypassing the starter relay like MAY03LT did in the video. It still does the same thing. I can also see sparks when inserting/removing the wire inside the pin-hole.

I've also tried replacing the ignition switch with the one from my TB, same thing.

I haven't checked the grounds, and I couldn't find a way to disconnect the wires from the starter. It's a tight space with the axles and everything in the way.

What's confusing me is that sometimes it cranks from the first time without any issues. Sometimes for a couple of times, and sometimes the whole day like what happened yesterday.

I've recently started working in a company so I don't have as much free time as before.

I also suspect the starter is the problem because it seems like sometimes the starter's gears don't retract all the way, and an annoying noise comes from the flywheel/starter/torque converter area. If I shut the engine off and start it again (once, or maybe a couple of times) the noise goes away.

I do have a video of this noise on my phone, it's like something is grinding.

Edit:
Also sometimes this noise comes for the first couple of seconds and goes away. If it doesn't come directly after starting, it won't come.

I'm trying to upload 2videos but it says this video doesn't allow extention 🤔
 
Last edited:

Mooseman

Moderator
If it does the same thing while jumping the relay socket, the starter is likely dead. Unless the main ground from the battery to the block is bad, not likely that's the problem but worth the check.

Getting the starter out of the V8 version of these trucks is a bitch.
 
OP
OP
H

Hobbyist4Life

Well-Known Member
Yeah, I noticed from the videos.

Today it doesn't want to crank. Doesn't even click (clicked the first time without starting, and stopped clicking) I've checked the voltage between the +ve battery terminal and various points on the block, no issue there.

At this point, it's either the wire from the fuse box to the starter (I don't think so), or the starter itself.

I'll try to upload the videos from my laptop, see if it works
 

budwich

Well-Known Member
measure the resistance (to ground) from the relay contact going towards the starter. Do the same measurement at the starter where the relay point / wire comes in. That will tell you which is bad... the wiring or the starter.
 

MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Supporter
One Last and Very Important Thing Worth Mentioning here is THIS:

If a SHIM is called for during the Installation of either the GM OEM ACDelco Starter OR from any After-Market Starter and you discover that it was MISSING... the displacement of the Starter inside the Flex-Plate "Well" where they are supposed to make Post-Bendix Spring Launch of the Small Motor Gear...it might be getting jammed up inside there as a result. A Symptom of this problem is the non-retraction of the Small Gear back inside of the Starter after the Ignition Key is relaxed into the RUN position from the Ignition START forward-most Position.
 
OP
OP
H

Hobbyist4Life

Well-Known Member
measure the resistance (to ground) from the relay contact going towards the starter. Do the same measurement at the starter where the relay point / wire comes in. That will tell you which is bad... the wiring or the starter.
The problem with what you're saying is the tight space around the starter. I haven't checked for space behind the wheel, but I know that from under the car and from under the hood is kinda difficult.

Especially because the multimeter doesn't have that long of leads. I've been thinking about buying a test leads kit to open more possibilities.

One Last and Very Important Thing Worth Mentioning here is THIS:

If a SHIM is called for during the Installation of either the GM OEM ACDelco Starter OR from any After-Market Starter and you discover that it was MISSING... the displacement of the Starter inside the Flex-Plate "Well" where they are supposed to make Post-Bendix Spring Launch of the Small Motor Gear...it might be getting jammed up inside there as a result. A Symptom of this problem is the non-retraction of the Small Gear back inside of the Starter after the Ignition Key is relaxed into the RUN position from the Ignition START forward-most Position.
I once have tried to remove it while car didn't want to start (stranded in the streets), I haven't noticed any shims. Also, I have another starter that I'm willing to install but first I need to get it tested because it's from a parts car that I bought for this Denali.

The parts car (previously) had a problem with the transmission, so one of the garages bought it and took the engine as a replacement for a 5.3L TB. Since it was a replacement, most of the parts other than the engine and transmission they put inside it.

Now the problem is, if I really DO need a shim for THAT starter to be installed (I'm assuming it's the factory one), how will I put my hands on one? I'm pretty sure buying a random shim online is not the proper way
 

budwich

Well-Known Member
Quote:
The problem with what you're saying is the tight space around the starter. I haven't checked for space behind the wheel, but I know that from under the car and from under the hood is kinda difficult.

Especially because the multimeter doesn't have that long of leads. I've been thinking about buying a test leads kit to open more possibilities.

so... at least measure the resistance at the fuse panel.
 
OP
OP
H

Hobbyist4Life

Well-Known Member
"measure the resistance (to ground) from the relay contact going towards the starter."

This is the only part that seems to be talking about the fuse panel. And it's confusing me. From relay contact to ground? Or to starter relay wire?

As far as I know the relay sends power, not ground, to the starter. So measuring the resistance from relay contact wire to starter ground (which is the engine) is not making much sense to me.

Can you please tell me what to measure exactly?!
 

budwich

Well-Known Member
Look... pull the relay out of the fuse box. You know which pins go where in the fuse box. All I am asking is now go on the relay box, put a red lead of the meter on the pin / connector where the contact for the relay that was going towards the starter and the black on a good ground and measure resistance. Not sure why this is so hard. :-(
 

budwich

Well-Known Member
Why? because, in most cases, your eyes can't see the state of an electric circuit. Your observations are not electrically based... just visual. Nothing may result but it certainly won't hurt.... and it may solve your "mystery".
 

TJBaker57

Well-Known Member
As far as I know the relay sends power, not ground, to the starter.
If the power as you call it doesn't have a path to ground then absolutely nothing will happen when the relay supplies that power. If there is a path to ground then an ohm-meter hooked up across that will read that path, expressed in ohms resistance.

The starter motor needs a complete circuit to function. The ground is already connected at one end of the starter motors windings. By checking with an ohm meter at the fusebox starter relay contact that leads to the starter you are verifying that path to ground through the starter motor windings. If the circuit is open then either you are in the wrong terminal, there is a bad connections somewhere, or the starter is toast.

Screenshot_20190914-091424.jpg
 

MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Supporter
@TJBaker... "Instructions... Without Judgement = FTW!" :thumbsup:

Regarding the Use of Shims for the Starter Installation... Realizing of course that if this becomes necessary... the Shims ordinarily only require LOOSENING the Inner-most Bolt and then removing the Outer Bolt in order to slip them In and Out... without necessitating the COMPLETE Removal of the Starter for any multiple "Trial and Error" adjustments:

STARTERSHIMINSTALLATION.jpg

Dorman makes a Very Handy Assorted Style and Thickness Starter Motor Shim Set for Under $5.00 that will suit your purposes to gain the correct "Goldilocks" Mate Up Spacing between the Small Starter Gear and the Flex-Plate Fire Ring Gear:


DORMANSTARTERSHIMSET.jpg

Eric The Car Guy Explains "WHY" Shimming may become necessary... and How To Do This Job:

 
OP
OP
H

Hobbyist4Life

Well-Known Member
@MRRSM, thanks for the info and the link. Are you sure those spacers work for our 5.3L engine?


@TJBaker57 I have measured the resistance from the relay pin to ground, it's settling around 2 ohms. Half of that seems to be introduced by the multimeter itself (shows ~1 ohm when connecting both leads to each other).

I have also bench measured the resistance of the other starter, and it gives almost the same results.

So... Any suggestions on what this means? Are both starters busted? Or both are working and the problem is elsewhere?

Ugh, this is getting annoyingly annoying :Banghead:
I just don't feel like spending the time to replace the starter while it's not the actual problem.

Oh, one last thing that I just remembered, which might change the whole situation. When I previously attempted to remove the starter, I noticed that the plastic cover wasn't there and I can see the flywheel and the insides.

What are the chances of a rock ot a similar matter getting thrown up in there and holding the starter?!
 

MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Supporter
I cannot swear that the Dorman Flavor of the Shims will be a Perfect Fit... However... Given that the far end of the Tang is OPEN... it should allow a certain amount of Fudge Factor in aligning the Inner Distance to the Outer Bolt as it passes through the completed Shim Hole and into the Outer Mount Bolt location.

Since you have an Extra Starter on hand... you can always measure the distance between the Mount Bolt Holes Center to Center and look for any Off-Set to confirm you won't require the "Zig-Zag" version of these Shims. "Oh... Oh... Oh... O'Reilly's..." has a bewildering array of Starter and Other Body Shims to choose from if you peruse their offerings via this Link:

 
Last edited:

TJBaker57

Well-Known Member
First off...when you say "click", where do you believe this click is coming from? Down by the starter? Under normal startup there are at least 2 items that click but these are normally drowned out by the starter motor. The louder click will be the starter solenoid which is part of the starter itself these days. (Its job is to connect the big power from the battery to the starter motor windings) A lesser click that will only be heard in a quiet environment (no radios or such) comes from the starter relay in the underhood fuse block. I am guessing here you mean the former, louder click from the area of the starter motor itself. If that clicks and the starter doesn't go then it is either the starter motor, the battery cable connections from the positive battery post to the large connector on the starter motor, or the grounding of the starter motor.
In the past I have had vehicles that got a "bad spot" in the starter motor. (Worn brushes or the like) when the vehicle clicked but did not turn the starter I have been known to smack the starter body with a large wrench or hammer and it then started 😆
 

TJBaker57

Well-Known Member
A note and observation after watching May03lts video about bypassing the starter relay. When I watched him do the bypass it wasn't clear which two relay sockets he had his jumper in. I could see where someone who was unfamiliar with the relay configuration to bypass an incorrect relay socket terminal. @Hobbyist4Life ...was your jumper across the terminal diagonally??

Edit: I failed to point out I am seeing the video on a smartphone. It may well be clearer in fullscreen on a larger monitor
 

budwich

Well-Known Member
I have also bench measured the resistance of the other starter, and it gives almost the same results.

So... Any suggestions on what this means? Are both starters busted? Or both are working and the problem is elsewhere?
So... it would appear that you have a path for your starter (from the start relay) to engage the solenoid. As you have found, the resistance isn't an "open circuit" and compares with your "other starter".

As suggested, you need to determine that, indeed, the solenoid on the starter is "clicking" / activating. Jumping the pin that you just measured the resistance at to a battery should cause the solenoid in the starter to click / pull up. Does it?
Of course, you can test your "other starter" on a bench by doing the same test.... providing 12v to solenoid contact / pin and ground somewhere on the case. The solenoid should click / activate. If it doesn't then that starter has a solenoid issue... some can be replaced while some starters are not serviceable in terms of replacing the solenoid.

NOTE: there are other electrical tests there after that you can perform IF the solenoid on the starter does pull up.
 
OP
OP
H

Hobbyist4Life

Well-Known Member
Since you have an Extra Starter on hand... you can always measure the distance between the Mount Bolt Holes Center to Center and look for any Off-Set to confirm you won't require the "Zig-Zag" version of these Shims. "Oh... Oh... Oh... O'Reilly's..." has a bewildering array of Starter and Other Body Shims to choose from if you peruse their offerings via this Link:

"nOh... nOh... nOh... O'Reilly's NOT an option" :smile:

I don't think I'll need shims, but I won't know for sure until I get it installed. I'm hoping to have a decision in the next couple of days if the starter really is the problem.

First off...when you say "click", where do you believe this click is coming from? Down by the starter? Under normal startup there are at least 2 items that click but these are normally drowned out by the starter motor. The louder click will be the starter solenoid which is part of the starter itself these days. (Its job is to connect the big power from the battery to the starter motor windings) A lesser click that will only be heard in a quiet environment (no radios or such) comes from the starter relay in the underhood fuse block.
When I say "click" is when the solenoid tries to engage the teeth. I can only hear the starter relay when, as you said, in a quiet environment AND have the hood and fuse box open.

I am guessing here you mean the former, louder click from the area of the starter motor itself. If that clicks and the starter doesn't go then it is either the starter motor, the battery cable connections from the positive battery post to the large connector on the starter motor, or the grounding of the starter motor.
Yes. The problem is there comes a time where it starts right up as if nothing's wrong, and other times it clicks in a couple of attempts to start and then it starts. Other times (which is the current situation since 3 days) I can't even hear it click with the radio and everything off!

In the past I have had vehicles that got a "bad spot" in the starter motor. (Worn brushes or the like) when the vehicle clicked but did not turn the starter I have been known to smack the starter body with a large wrench or hammer and it then started 😆
Actually the first time it didn't crank, I was at a shop that does several light repairs. I had a bad battery at the time and told him to install a new one and it still didn't crank. Then he started "smacking" the starter but nothing happened, still didn't want to crank!

A note and observation after watching May03lts video about bypassing the starter relay. When I watched him do the bypass it wasn't clear which two relay sockets he had his jumper in. I could see where someone who was unfamiliar with the relay configuration to bypass an incorrect relay socket terminal. @Hobbyist4Life ...was your jumper across the terminal diagonally??

Edit: I failed to point out I am seeing the video on a smartphone. It may well be clearer in fullscreen on a larger monitor
The first time I watched it, it was pretty clear to me, also on my phone. I'm not sure why it wasn't clear for you, maybe your phone is too small :rolleyes:

So... it would appear that you have a path for your starter (from the start relay) to engage the solenoid. As you have found, the resistance isn't an "open circuit" and compares with your "other starter".

As suggested, you need to determine that, indeed, the solenoid on the starter is "clicking" / activating. Jumping the pin that you just measured the resistance at to a battery should cause the solenoid in the starter to click / pull up. Does it?
As I mentioned above, the starter has a mind of it's own when it comes to that!

Of course, you can test your "other starter" on a bench by doing the same test.... providing 12v to solenoid contact / pin and ground somewhere on the case. The solenoid should click / activate. If it doesn't then that starter has a solenoid issue... some can be replaced while some starters are not serviceable in terms of replacing the solenoid.

NOTE: there are other electrical tests there after that you can perform IF the solenoid on the starter does pull up.
I'm planning to connect and test the "other starter" but I'm just not finding the time for it. Also, AFAIK there are no shops around here that have starter testing machines.

I might just pull the trigger and remove the old starter and start bench testing on that!

What are the other electrical tests you're talking about?
 

Online statistics

Members online
3
Guests online
208
Total visitors
211

Members online

Forum statistics

Threads
19,516
Messages
581,310
Unanswered questions
1
Answered questions
1
Members
12,258
Latest member
Pattxtine
Top Bottom