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Discussion Starter #1
I've had my car out the last two weekends, and the problem I'm having is that it seems to pick and choose when it wants to start.

Last weekend, it had been sitting for about two weeks, and I went to start it, and it just clicked. Pulled my other car up, jumped it off, and it ran perfectly. Went to a friend's house, shut off for a few hours, started right back up and came home. Thought that I better start looking for a new battery.

This weekend, started right up cold after sitting for a week, choke operated perfectly. Ran a few errands, stopped and started a few places, no issues. Made one last stop at the gas station, and suddenly nothing when I turned the key. No clicking, nothing. Had a guy at the station jump me off, started right up with no issues. Drove home. Kept it off for a few hours, went outside and it started right up again.

I tested the battery and alternator, and both seem to be fine. Starter is also kicking over with no issue when it starts. No loose wires or grounds that I can see. Is this simply the battery dying and giving me sporadic issues or is there something else to it? The battery is dated 9/12, and its an Autocraft Gold with 3 year warranty. Seems like it wouldn't cost me anything to swap it out, but thinking that Advanced Auto will test it, see the 12 volts and say its OK, but if I'm not mistaken, a battery can have a 12 volt charge, and still not have enough for a crank. The other thing is that every time I get jump started, it starts up fine and continues to run.

Thoughts?
 

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Maybe your voltage regulator is sticking. Also you could have a bad cell in the battery causing the problem. Take it to Advance and tell them what it has been doing. I have seen a battery have 12.5 volts but still wouldn't start the car because of a dead cell.
 

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it does sound like the battery get a omes metre on the battery while running it should be around 14 volts if it is then your alternator is good, A battery with the most cranking amps helps, the other thing it might be is the solenoid on the starter.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies. If it were the ignition switch or solenoid, I would think that getting a jump start wouldn't matter, yet both times when I did, it fired right up.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I just read an article about solenoid heat soak on GM starters, where engine heat causes the no start. Both times where I had the issue, I know that I had done a lot of idling, and was hitting about 200 degrees. I recently increased my timing a bit, where previously I wouldn't exceed 190. Doesn't look like I have a heat shield on my solenoid. Were these standard issue from the factory?
 

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If your batt is old it won't hold a charge as it did when it was new, and if the case has a bulge then it's time for a new one.
Swap the batt with one of your other cars and see if the same thing happens.
 

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Chad - these types of gremlins can be hard to track down. The key is to eliminate one item at a time and not complicate the issue in the process.

When you went to start at the station you stated that you got nothing - no click no burp of the starter. If you still had full accessory - meaning full battery charge I would suspect the starter solenoid or neutral safety switch first. Check those after you check your battery voltage and VR.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Brian/Mark. I hear what you are saying Brian. I've ruled out the battery, as it's always tested at full charge, and as you mentioned, when it happens I get nothing at the starter. I'll test the solenoid this weekend and still think that heat might have something to do with it, so I'll pick up a heat shield as well. Mine is missing anyway. Still going to enjoy a cruise or two this weekend, just as long as I don't stop, I'm good to go ! �� I'll let you guys know what I find out. Thanks again.
 

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If it is heat soak - pick up a can of dust off compressed air you can freeze the solenoid if you need to get it started in a pinch while on the road.
 

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I have been chasing the same gremlin I have replaced the starter, ignition switch, battery cables. I just received my vR715 Wells voltage regulator, as some posters have said I should get. I have not put it on yet. Mine is the same. I get 14.5 at the battery sometimes. I had it giving about 12.5 then I upped the load by putting on the lights and it jumped up to 14.5. I am hoping it will be the VR. I purchased a new Battery charger and gave the battery a good charge.
I have the starter wrap to dissipate the heat soak condition, and I am at the point where I just don't trust the car. It has happened twice at cruise nights, other nights it starts right up. I hope the VR715 will fix it. I will do the battery next.
 

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Another thing I forgot to mention, if the wires on the solenoid are near the exhaust then the wires will get hard and the insulation will become brittle and crack. So maybe some of the wire strands are broke.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well, took it out today to enjoy the weather. Drove it pretty hard to test the heat soak theory. I got back into the garage, shut down, waited a few intervals, and it started right up every time. I did eyeball the wiring to the solenoid, and didn't see anything out of order. I'll have time to get under there tomorrow and get a closer look at the wires and run a few tests.

Same as Brian, the issue seems to be unpredictable as to when its going to decide to do it. Let me know how that VR715 works out for you Brian.
 

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Sounds like high resistance, possibly where your battery cables clamp to the posts. Both times when you got jumped, the spring pressure from the jumper cable clamps was enough to give you a better connection for that start. If you've not done so already, I'd remove both battery cables and clean both the battery posts and the inside of the clamps. If the clamps are the style that are not molded to the cables and have the cable ends clamped there as well, disassemble and give those a good cleaning as well or better yet, replace them with new cables that have the ends molded onto them. You'd be surprised how little it takes to build up enough resistance to cause a problem like you have described.
 

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I wouldn't waste money or effort on a heat shield. If your problem is in fact heat soak, the starter picks up its heat from the engine block after you shut the engine off and there is no air movement. What happens is the heat increases resistance in the solenoid's windings which is normal. It takes more current to activate a hot solenoid than it does to activate a cold one. If the wiring in your car has a bad or dirty switch/connection between the battery and the S terminal on the solenoid (lots of possibilities) it can't overcome this increased resistance and can't deliver the current to activate the solenoid.

It's pretty easy to jumper around both the ign switch and the NSS to possibly eliminate those. Clean the battery cables, both ends. Clean the connections at the junction block ahead of the battery, at the horn relay bus, at the bulkhead connector and at the S terminal.

Sometimes on cruddy old wiring you just can't find the fault. Short of replacing all of your harnesses, a relay is usually an excellent if somewhat band-aid fix, and it's a pretty simple job to wire a Bosch style relay for the starter, so that the S wire only needs to trigger the relay, which draws just a few miliamps.

85 - ground
86 - S wire (purple)
30 - POS bat cable stud on solenoid(fuse or fusible link on this one)
87 - S terminal on solenoid
 

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You need a voltmeter. I saw HF coupons where they were free w/o buying anything, so there's not much excuse for not having a crappy one.
Measure battery voltage before starting the car and when running. 12.7 is a charged battery, and around 13.5 is running and charging.
Since the problem happened cold, its not heat soak.
Clean the battery connections, and grounds.
I had a parts store person tell me my battery needed a charge at 9V (which means dead/bad) so the parts store monkeys can't be trusted.

I'd guess you have a bad or loose connection...
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for that Al and Scott. Looks simple enough to install. Tomorrow I'll clean all connections, take the battery in for testing, test the starter and solenoid, and see where I'm at. If I'm still at a loss I'll look towards a relay. The intermittant part makes it tough to know if what you've done has worked or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
You need a voltmeter. I saw HF coupons where they were free w/o buying anything, so there's not much excuse for not having a crappy one.
Measure battery voltage before starting the car and when running. 12.7 is a charged battery, and around 13.5 is running and charging.
I have a multimeter. Battery is at 12.4 when not running and 13.5 when it is. Plan to take it in tomorrow for a load test. Its less than 2 years old, and still under warranty.
 
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