Starter clicks once — no start
If you have a vehicle and the Starter just goes click, you may not need a new starter. You may be able to get away with new contacts and a new plunger.
When you energize the starter a solenoid (electro-magnet) pulls the plunger in. The plunger has a round copper disk at its edge and as it pulls in, the copper disk touches two copper contacts. This setup acts as a heavy duty relay to supply battery current to the starter motor. But like all relays, the contacts get pitted because of electrical arcing.
You can buy replacement contacts ($10/set) and a replacement plunger ($16.95) at www.nationsautoelectric.com. Go onto their site and look up the starter model for your vehicle, then order the contacts and plunger from them.
To install the parts, start by disconnecting the negative battery cable. Then jack up the car and put it on jack stands. Depending on which engine you have, you may or may not have enough room to do the replacement with the starter still attached to the engine. The solenoid sits on top of the starter and has a removable cover plate. Remove the screws to the cover plate and pry it off gently. There’s a rubber gasket on the plate and that sometimes holds it in place. If the gasket gets damaged, you can use RTV silicone to repair it, BUT make sure the RTV is electrically compatible! Do NOT use household silicone caulk—that stuff is corrosive to copper.
As you remove the cover, the plunger will want to pop out—so be prepared to catch it. Once the plunger is removed, you’ll see the pitted contacts. Replace them with the new parts. Do NOT fool yourself into thinking that you can get by with simply filing them. It won’t last. Then, install the spring on the new plunger and insert it back into the solenoid. Replace the cover and screws. You’re done—and you just save about $300.
© 2012 Rick MuscoplatPosted on by Rick Muscoplat