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Thread: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '91 Previa LE AWD A/T

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    Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '91 Previa LE AWD A/T

    Hello everyone. I know it may seem that I am creating an identical thread to the Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light!!! '91 Previa LE AWD by Ari and Tim. However, my van seems to have a different problem. A few days ago, after driving for about 300 miles, I parked the van at a friend's house to spend the night. About 15 minutes later, I decided to move the van to a different parking spot, but when I turned the key, I just got one click. I turned it again, and heard one click again. My previous starter had gone out about three weeks and a couple of thousand miles before. That time, my wife had pulled over to let me drive, and when I got in the driver's seat and turned the key, I had just heard one click. So I had tried to jump the starter with some wire, but after that didn't work, I removed it and walked to an AutoZone that was, luckily, only a couple of miles away. They tested it and said it was bad (popped out but didn't spin). Since we were on the road and due to be somewhere that morning, I didn't have the option of fixing our starter, and had to buy a "refurbished" one.

    Three weeks later, when I got the one click sound again, I couldn't believe that the starter had died again. I kept turning the key, and after about the 5th time, it started right up, no problem, and I moved parking spaces. The next morning, however, we had the same problem. Click, click, click, start. The lights never dimmed, and when it finally did crank it seemed to have full power. So all that day we were able to start it after turning the key several times. The next morning, however, we tried many more times than usual, but couldn't get it to start. So I got under the car and removed the small ignition wire with the plastic clip, and touched that connection on the starter to the big command terminal on the starter. Doing that, it has started every single time, no problem. The trouble is, I don't like to have to crawl under the van every time it won't start, in a grocery store parking lot or after getting gas.

    I am thinking that the small ignition wire with the plastic clip has to be the culprit, but I haven't been able to figure out how to test or replace it. I figured that it was just a bad relay, but looking in my shop manual, it says that the A/T Previas don't have relays (except the solenoid switch on the starter, which is definitely good, since I have also removed the starter and bench tested it and it has worked every time). So is it just the wiring itself or the ignition switch? It seems unlikely that it could just be the wiring, since it will go from not working to working sporadically, without jiggling anything or moving anything except the key itself.

    The check engine light comes on every time the key is in the "on" position, before attempting to crank, so I think it can't be the fusible link box thing on the + battery terminal either. This problem seems somewhat similar to Ari's in other ways, however, because I'm also getting codes 25 and 26 (lean and rich fuel mixture). I am, however, also getting code 42, which has something to do with the starter not registering when it's cranked, but I don't know more than that or how to diagnose it.

    We have been working the starter very hard for about a year, so the ignition switch or wiring or whatever else may have been worn down from that? Last December, I replaced the engine with a really old one after it threw a rod, and then in May I replaced it again with a Japanese takeout. With both of the replacements, the car has been very hard to start, especially in cold weather, even though it never had problems with the original engine. I replaced the AIC and cleaned out the throttle body really well, but still is hard to start when cold. When it's warm it used to always start fine, though. Now that the clicking has started up, I haven't notice that warm or cold make any difference in the randomness

    Thank you in advance to anybody that has any insight for me. Previous to last December when I replaced the engine, I had zero experience and barely knew how to change to oil, so I am still a newbie and don't know much beyond what common sense and much failure have taught. Just want to keep this Previa! Tyson

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    Re: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '91 Previa LE AWD A/T

    Hi Tyson,

    I'm not sure why, but the HTML code in your post was really messed up. Anyhow I edited by replacing HTML with [PHP] (so it's easier to read and understand). Based on what you report I'm inclined to agree that it's not the starter. It sounds to me like there's a bad component or connection somewhere else in the system. The starter trigger circuit does travel through the fusible link box (the AM1 50A link), but since that link also powers up all your accessories you'd be noticing a lot more issues than just the starter.

    I have a couple of hunches here, but the direction I go will depend on if your Previa has the "Theft Deterrent System" or not. You can identify that by looking on top of the fuse box cover (inside the van top center of your dash board). Previas with this system have a little light here that blinks when the doors are locked. Standard Previas do not. The light has a wire going to it that needs to be disconnected when removing this cover, so if yours just pops off without messing with a wire then you don't have it. Please let me know what system you have and that will help me narrow down the most likely problem areas.

    The codes you mention are not related to the starter issue. I would recommend resetting the ECU, drive, and recheck to see if they come back. If they do then please start another thread on that. Tim

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    Re: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '91 Previa LE AWD A/T

    Tim,

    Thank you so much for your response!

    I do NOT have a "Theft Deterrent System" - the cover just pops off. We drove the van another 250 miles today, and only turned it off once during the trip. When we left home, it started right up with the key, but when we turned it off during the trip, it would not start again, even after turning the key dozens of times, removing it, pushing gas, etc. So I crawled underneath again in the snow and it started up that way again as usual.

    The codes don't worry me too much, I was just a little curious that the check engine light came on the second I started the car with a new starter, and when I checked it code 43 "Starter Signal" showed up (not 42 like I said - I have my book now). But now that I'm looking it says that code 43 doesn't trip the MIL anyhow, so it must have just been a coincidence that 25/26 tripped it right then. I'll start a different thread on that, like you say.

    Hopefully the HTML doesn't jumble this up this time. Thanks for fixing that, and again for your help,

    Tyson

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    Re: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '91 Previa LE AWD A/T

    From a troubleshooting standpoint I'm glad it doesn't have the theft deterrent system (less potential problem spots). The starter circuit is actually quite simple on the automatic "plain Jane" Previas. Aside from the wiring and connectors, the AM1 circuit goes directly from the battery through the 50A AM1 Fusible link and then directly to the ignition switch via a white wire. After the ignition switch it goes to the neutral start switch (via a black/white wire) then to the starter via a black wire. You could probably start swapping parts and get lucky, but I would recommend getting a volt meter and doing some troubleshooting.

    1st thing to do is access the wire connector going to your ignition switch and pull it apart. Inspect the conductors inside to make sure they are clean and shiny. Pay particular attention to the black & white wire and the associated pin (connector position 7) as this is the circuit in question. If the pins look good then plug it back together and try to start. If it starts then you will need to drive or whatever to make it act up. Once you get it to act-up, check the voltage of the bigger white wire and compare to the voltage of the black-white wire during a start attempt. The difference in voltage between these two wires S/B less than 1 volt (.5V or less drop is preferred). If you see a big drop here (more than 1 volt) then the switch is bad and needs to be replaced. If that checks out then climb under the van, pull the trigger wire from the starter and carefully inspect (make sure it's clean and tight). Warning: make sure vehicle is secure on jack stands, emergency brake set and gear shift in park before climbing under van!

    If the ignition switch and the visual inspection of connectors is satisfactory then go to the passenger's side front of the transmission and find the neutral start switch (see picture below)


    As with the ignition switch, unplug the wire harness and inspect the plug to make sure it's clean and shiny inside. If all looks good, reconnect it and pull back the wire cover to expose the wires inside. Find the black/white & black wires (black/white is position 3 and black is position 2). The black/white wire comes from the ignition switch and the black wire goes to the starter. Using your meter have a helper try to start the van and compare voltages. Again you should see no voltage drops more than 1 volt. If there is a significant drop in voltage between these 2 wires then the neutral switch is the problem.

    Note 1: At no point should you see less than 10 volts in this circuit. If voltage is low then you will need to back-track towards the battery until you identify the spot where the voltage is dropping. If you find such a spot, this will be the source of your problem.

    Note 2: The wire harness is wrapped and concealed pretty good so it will be difficult to track the wires. Hopefully this won't be necessary (problems are usually failed components).

    Good luck with your troubleshooting and I hope you have success. I looked up the ignition switch and see it's still available new. For the 91 Previas it's Toyota part #84450-28070 and sells for around $95 on discount internet Toyota sites like www.1stToyotaParts.com. Hopefully it's not the neutral start switch as this is NLA new (at least for 91). According to my search, 92 & up switches are available, but I couldn't find any notes saying if they would replace the earlier discontinued one. Keep in mind the neutral start switch is also an integral part of the electronic controlled transmission (does more than just prevent starting while in gear). As a result it's expensive (cheapest I could find was around $225). If this ends up being the problem I would probably go to a salvage yard and pull one off a 91 Previa. According the the Toyota EPC, the 91 neutral start switch is part #84540-28020. The one called out for 92 & up Previas is #84540-28021. Tim

    PS: If it acts up again before you have a chance to troubleshoot, put the transmission in neutral and try again. Chances are it won't effect anything, but if it starts consistently in neutral but not in park, then the problem is in your neutral start switch.

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    Re: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '91 Previa LE AWD A/T

    First, Tim, yer a monster (meant in a good way) and I for one am really, really appreciative of your knowledge and sharing. Every time I read something from you, I learn. Thank you for that.

    I believe that your explanation will cover the 99% case for this problem. I had a 1% case that may or may not be relevant, but it sure messed with my life for a while until I figured it out. On the off chance that it's relevant, here 'tis.

    We had the exact same symptoms as tysonhazard with our 93' Previa LE. In the past, the solenoid contacts being worn gave the same behavior when the voltage going to the starter was good. Replacing them fixed that problem, but if those are new here, that wouldn't be the case. And one time our theft deterrent system was faulty giving exactly the same type of symptoms - that was exciting to find and I just grounded the wire going to it to cut it out of the circuit in the end. But of course, that's not this situation.

    But there was one time when we had this exact situation without the two situations above. When we could get it to fail while watching it, it'd show low voltage coming to the starter. Then it would fix itself. Frustrating. One day, it simply would not start. One click when we tried. Pulling the wire off the starter and checking voltage showed full power, but a direct jump from battery to starter spun it right up. I tracked that thing back through every junction, every wire, every switch until finally, only the battery was left, which tested good. I'm unclear on the naming terminology, but there is a black junction/fuse box right off the battery on the battery cable itself that has the main power going through it. Opening it from the top showed it to be fine, while checking voltages in a low amperage setting with a volt meter showed it to be fine.

    Well, the answer was that pulling high amperage through the circuit showed low voltage - it couldn't handle that. Opening up that black casing, all I found was green chalk, copper oxide. The entire bus bar system in there had decomposed on me and was green foam like substance. How it went as long as it did, I dunno. Replaced it, and voila', the machine was back up and running like a top.

    Just a story, and a thought. I wouldn't expect others to have this problem unless maybe they were in hotter climes like I am. But just in case..

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    Re: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '91 Previa LE AWD A/T

    Thanks for the kudos . Good point. Sounds like yours was a bit like the situation in the thread Tyson linked to in his 1st post. When it comes to electrical problems on the Previa it's always a good idea to pull that box and check it. Once you know where the "secret" plastic locks are it only takes a few minutes to pop apart for a visual inspection. Elaborating on what you said, sometimes in cases of poor electrical contact (as in a corroded fuse box) electricity can flow when not under a heavy load. Then at the critical moment (when a load is applied) contact is lost. Although the fusible link box is one of the most likely places for that to occur, this type problem can be occur any number of places in any circuit (usually at switch contacts).

    In note #1 (toward the end of my last post) says "back-track towards the battery until you identify the spot where the voltage is dropping". If it comes down to this type testing it should be done with the circuit hooked up while an assistant is trying to start. Assuming the problem can be duplicated for testing, if the problem ends up being in that box, this test will also work to identify. Tim

    PS: Another weird one I didn't mention (as it was somewhat of a fluke and doesn't apply here) is what happened to my 91 All-Trac Previa about 10 years ago. It acted similar to what Tyson is reporting, but it had a bad battery. The battery wasn't that old and cranked just fine until the day it failed. It had full voltage at the terminals but that voltage dropped to nothing during attempts to start. Evidently there was a bad connection inside the battery case. Of course this wouldn't be Tyson's problem as his starts when he bypasses the starter trigger circuit.

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    Re: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '93 Previa LE AWD A/T

    Hello again Tim and others,

    It has been a few days, and we have made a little headway. First I should mention, though, that I made a mistake when I posted the original thread title. The engine in our van is a 1991, but the van itself is actually the 1993 model. I often forget that when I am troubleshooting and I forget that everything but the engine would still be from 1993. I hope that doesn't mess up any of the suggestions you gave in your previous posts. Anyhow, back to the problem.

    I haven't been extremely systematic about verifying this, but it has seemed this week that the van starts best when completely cold. First thing in the morning or if it hasn't been driven for 5+ hours, I think it has started without fail. However, once it has been driven for the day and parked for 1-4 hours, that is when the clicking seems to return most frequently, if not always. The few times we've turned the car off and then immediately back on, though (which we have tried stopped doing), it has been about 50/50. Anyhow, that may be completely irrelevant. But your most recent post about connections being good until a load is applied made me wonder if warmer or colder wires might be more or less conducive to keeping a good connection.

    Following your advice, I check both the ignition switch and the neutral start switch with a voltmeter. The difference between the "in" and "out" wire voltages on the ignition switch was about .2 volts, and both were over 11 volts when they key was turned. After I got everything together, the car was still just clicking. Good! I could do more testing. So I found the neutral start switch and unplugged it to make sure it looked shiny (and to figure out where positions 2 and 3 were). I don't know how shiny it was, as everything down there is dark and dusty and cramped, but tried to blow a little. Once I plugged it back in, the car started and began to start almost every time after that, and whenever it didn't it was when we weren't at home (the car had warmed up) so I couldn't test. Finally, it clicked again out in the middle of nowhere and I had my voltmeter with me so I checked the neutral start switch and the "in" wire read 11.50 volts and the "out" wire 11.28 volts while cranking/("clicking"). This brought relief (the $225 part seemed ok) and frustration (what now?). So I took the voltmeter to the other side of the car and unplugged the plastic clip. I stuck the voltmeter inside of the plastic clip and had my wife crank again. It clicked, and she held it for a long time (~3+ minutes) while I tried to get the (digital) meter to hold still. It was all over the place! Most of the time it would just show 0.00, so I thought I had a bad ground. But every few seconds it would flash, briefly, low voltages like 4 or 8, and then go back to 0. Once or twice it even flashed 12 volts, but for less than a second every time. The flashes would occur when I wasn't moving the ground around at all, just holding it steady inside of an empty threaded hole on the frame. The positive end that I had inside of the clip was held there by itself, as it seemed to fit nicely and tightly into the two tiny, thin metal plates that curve around.

    So my guess is that the clip or the wiring is bad somewhere between the transmission and the starter. This actually wouldn't surprise me too much since, like I said, the engine has been replaced twice in the last year, so everything has been unplugged and bend around to remove/install them. Next time I get a chance, I will test the wire right behind the plastic clip. If it reads 11+ volts there, I will assume that the clip itself is bad, and I can just replace that. Otherwise, would it be possible to just run a second wire from the "out" pin on the neutral start switch to the starter clip? Would that bypass any safety features? Would it be safe? Otherwise, how difficult is it to replace the bundled wiring that stretches from transmission to starter?

    Thank you very much for your help. I should have time this weekend to hopefully put an end to this problem. I'll be sure and report back on anything else I find.

    Tyson

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    Re: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '93 Previa LE AWD A/T

    Quote Originally Posted by tysonhazard View Post
    would it be possible to just run a second wire from the "out" pin on the neutral start switch to the starter clip? Would that bypass any safety features? Would it be safe? Otherwise, how difficult is it to replace the bundled wiring that stretches from transmission to starter?.........Tyson
    Yes, this is what I would probably do. No, it would not bypass any safety features as this is the last stop before the starter. As much as I like "factory quality" repairs, you have to consider this is an old van. Besides, by unraveling and replacing part of the harness could possibly do more harm than good. If it were me, assuming the inside of the neutral switch connector is good, I'd identify the black wire that comes from position #2 of the neutral start switch, cut it off about 2 or 3 inches outside the plug, then butt connect a new wire to it. If you don't have a high quality wire crimper (like Klein), then either get one or solder. However you connect it, cover it with shrink tubing with a dab of sealant inside. I like urethane but silicone would work too. Then just run to your starter cut/splice there too. Make sure the wire run is secure and out of harms way. I usually use the wire zip-ties to secure and sometimes use split loom for added protection when running wires in harsh environments. Don't worry about leaving the old wire inside the harness as it will simply become a dead hunk of wire (disconnected on both ends). Tim

    Note 1: The conductor part of wires can (and do) break inside the insulation. Sometimes moisture can infiltrate through old test points (puncture wounds from a test light) and cause wire stands to corrode completely through. This type of damage can be extremely hard to find & identify. Inspect the wires in this area carefully and look for signs of damage BEFORE running a new wire. To check for breakage, bend the wire back & forth and feel for a "more flexible" spot. To check for corrosion inside the insulation, look for a hole in the insulation with a small green stain around it. Unfortunately when wires break inside the insulation it usually happens in close proximity to a connector (most flex here), so check the part coming out of the neutral switch (the part you'll re-use) very thoroughly.

    Note 2: There is one more connection point I forgot to mention. It's in the black wire between the neutral switch and the starter. This is a pull-apart connector and could possibly be the trouble spot. I'm not sure of the exact harness location (at least not on the Previa), but try to follow the wire backwards from the starter. If you can't find it and the problem has been verified to be in that part of the circuit (between the neutral switch and the starter), then just run a new wire form the neutral switch to the starter. Tim

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    Re: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '93 Previa LE AWD A/T

    Well, it is dark and I still haven't fixed the problem. I went out today expecting to run a new wire from the neutral start switch to the small plastic clip that goes into the starter. Before doing so I decided to quickly double check the wiring at the neutral start switch and at the starter. Both the "in" and "out" wires on the neutral start switch were over 10 volts when trying to crank, as expected. (Note: I unplugged the connector and got a reading of something like 12.2 volts going "in" and 0.0 volts coming "out". I was trying to verify which was the "in" and which the "out" for when I cut the wire. When I plugged it in and tested, however, both the "in" and "out" read 10.? volts. (sorry, I should write this down next time). They weren't identical, but they weren't off by more than .5 volts, which is what I was checking for.).

    Moving over to the starter side, I unplugged the plastic clip and tested the voltage coming to there. This is where the results differed from last time. I am guessing that I somehow had a bad ground last time, because this time it read 12.3 volts when trying to crank. I had my wife turn the key and hold it 5+ times to make sure, and every time it went straight up to 12.31 and was stable there. Now, I still don't really know how starters work, but it seemed odd to me that when she stopped trying to crank but left the key in the "on" position, the wire only dropped to 11.81 volts. This happened every time she turned the key and then let it go. So there was a difference of exactly .5 volts between cranking and not cranking. The reason it seems odd is because, to me, it seems like it should be dropping to 0 volts when the key isn't cranking. I didn't even think until right now to have her take the key out. I tested the big positive wire at the starter command terminal coming directly from the battery as well, and that one stayed at 12.3 volts both while cranking and while not cranking.

    Since I could see that the command terminal was getting 12.3 volts, and that the wire in the plastic clip was also getting 12.3 volts when cranking, I was confused. So I decided to do what I always do to start the car when it just clicks, and jump the command terminal to where the plastic clip is supposed to go. It cranked for a split second, as always, but then I accidentally moved the jumper wire a little bit and lost the connection. The weird thing was that when I touched it again to jump it, IT JUST CLICKED! I tried five times, and got one click every time. That was the first time I had ever jumped it like that and not had it crank. So then I remembered another article I had read and started thinking "starter contacts". (Since I don't know anything about electricity or starters, my idea was that the contacts had been going bad all along, but that somehow when I used my big jumper wire it brought a little more juice to the starter than the little clip, and although that had been enough to get it started, the contacts had now worn out enough to where even that wouldn't work). Since it was almost four and we'd need to drive to the Toyota dealership if I wanted to get the contacts today, I ran in and called to make sure they had the kit. They said they had the kit for $16.12 (
    Toyota part #28226-72010). So I went back outside and jumped the car again, and that time it started the first time, like it always had before. We drove there and got the kit, and the man also told us that the bottom contact was shaped differently than the top one. So to be safe we bought two different bottom copper contacts ($24/pair, different shapes) and the top kit. It was $43.95! But of course I told him I'd probably be returning most of it since I hadn't taken the starter apart yet (I had to get to the store and have only one car).


    When I returned home, I took out the starter and removed the three screws. The contacts, to me, looked absolutely unworn. There was, however, some discoloring where the copper color was a little blackened. At least, they still looked new to me compared to the photo on the article just mentioned. The metal itself was flush everywhere, and not filed down at all.
    P1270399.jpg



    Another thing I noticed, however, was that where the plastic clip comes into the starter, there are two small wires that are soldered together. The picture below shows it a little better, but the right where the big silver bead is, one of the wires is not soldered to it. There is a small gap, and it appears to have broken off. It doesn't seem to me like this would make a difference, since the two wires are soldered together further up, and seem to be going to the same place, but just thought I'd point it out.
    P1270400.jpg



    Finally, I also noticed that the contacts in my starter didn't look like the contacts I got from the Toyota dealership. They also don't look like the ones on the same article I've been referring to. The picture below is of the contacts I bought for $43.95. Keep in mind I just replaced the previous starter with this refurbished one from AutoZone on December 21, 2011. It is supposed to be for a 1993 Previa (I have a '93, with a '91 replaced engine).
    P1270406.jpg


    I bench tested the starter, testing it about 5 times to make sure it worked every time. It did. I just tapped the wire for about 1/5th of a second each time so as to not overwork it. The command terminal was slightly loose, probably about one thread, so I tightened that up before reinstalling.

    Once I reinstalled the starter, I cranked but got the same old click. 12.3 volts at the command terminal, and 12.3 volts at the clip while cranking (11.8 while key is just "on").

    So, here's the only hypothesis I can come up with. As far as I can tell, the two 12.3 volt connections have to meet up somewhere inside the starter in order for it to spin. Would it be possible for that connection to be broken on the inside of the starter, but for the connection to be completed from the outside when I am jumping the command terminal to where the clip goes? Again, I don't really know how these work. It just doesn't make sense that the 12.3 volts from my jumper wire will start it every time (except for that one minute today, which I still don't understand), while the 12.3 volts from the clip will not.

    I am very grateful for the advice I've been given so far. Thank you for bearing with me as I stumble along with this project. Any further help is greatly appreciated. Have a great weekend!

    Tyson

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    Re: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '93 Previa LE AWD A/T

    Quote Originally Posted by tysonhazard View Post
    key in the "on" position, the wire only dropped to 11.81 volts.
    Aha! Your problem is a bad engine ground. Run a 4 gauge or bigger wire between the engine and the chassis and your problem will be solved. Tim

    PS: Of course I'm assuming the trigger wire was hooked up to the starter while testing & you were grounding the black lead of your meter to the chassis (not the engine).

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    Re: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '93 Previa LE AWD A/T

    Well this is going to sound crazy, but it turned out to be the starter! Tim, in your last post, you mentioned that it could be a bad ground. When it was dropping to only 11.8 volts with the key not cranking, the clip was actually not plugged in, and I actually was grounding it to the chassis, and not the engine. But because I didn't know anything about electricity, I tried making a temporary ground, which of course didn't help. But that got me thinking a lot more. I realized that you were saying that the power carried to the clip didn't have anywhere to go after entering the starter, because of a bad ground, and so stayed in the line even after we stopped cranking. I talked to a friend who is an electrician who came over to help me diagnose. The resistance between starter and chassis was only 0.4 ohms, but we realized by looking in the book that having the key on also ran the "cold start" components. Since that was another problem, we checked the fuses and low and behold, the 7.5-A fuse was blown.

    Then plugged one end of the voltmeter into the clip and the other end into the starter, and tried to crank. It read 16 amps. Then instead of drawing power from the clip, I moved it to the big command post on the starter, and it read 19 amps. The interesting thing was that the starter cranked for a split second, and then stopped. I removed and re-touched the probes several more times, but it only clicked after that, and never cranked. In my last post, I mentioned that this same thing had happened for the first time ever, while trying to use my jumper wire. But this was the second time. My friend suggested that, even though the contacts might be in perfect condition, it could be that there was a tiny dead spot on part of the brushings. He thought that maybe the additional 3 amps provided by the direct battery contact, on the command post, when using the jumper wire (19 as opposed to 16 through the clip), had, until then, always been just enough to "jolt" the motor into motion and, once in motion, of course it is easier to keep spinning past the dead spot. Eventually, though, I guess the dead spot got a little bigger or something, so even the wire trick stopped working. I don't know.

    Anyhow, since I don't know how to check the brushings, and since I had a free replacement warranty, I just drove to AutoZone and they gave me another one. I put it in, and ever since Monday the car has started with the key every time. And not only that, because we replaced the "cold start" fuse, we no longer have to work our starter hard the first time of the day to get the car running. It starts quickly and easily, which will hopefully translate to no more starter problems for a long, long time!

    Thank you again for all your help. I know my inexperience tended to lead you experts in false directions a couple of times, because I wasn't doing things correctly. But in the end, the car runs better than ever and there is no way I could have done it without you. Plus, now I have a much better understanding of electrical systems and can hopefully help others with similar problems. Have a great day, and happy winter!

  12. #12
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    Re: Intermittent Starting Problems & Check Engine Light. '91 Previa LE AWD A/T

    Well this is interesting............and confusing. Of course without hands-on there must be guesswork and assumptions are made. So what you're saying is the remanufactured POS starter had a mild short on the solenoid circuit. The starter trigger circuit couldn't quite handle the load but a jumper wire could.......right? Sounds like a bare wire was touching or pinched by the case and that contact intensified with heat (would explain a lot).

    The ground wire thing I said above was of course assuming the trigger wire was attached to the starter during testing. With that wire unattached having voltage in this wire (open circuit) would be normal. Sorry you went to the extra trouble, but having additional paths to ground is never a bad thing. Glad you got it all figured out. Tim

    PS: Many years ago I went through a similar experience with a Ford truck. I installed one of those "new" lifetime starters. It worked but cranked slow. After a couple of days it started cranking even slower so I replaced the battery (was old anyhow). The next morning when I tried to start it burned up a the big positive wire and destroyed the solenoid. So I upgraded to a larger battery cable and replaced the solenoid. The next morning I started the truck and the starter kept cranking. I shut it off but the starter kept on going. Before I could get my battery disconnected there were flames coming out of my new solenoid. At that point I took the starter back off and bench tested by wiring it direct to a battery. My amp clamp read almost 200A with no load . Turns out the starter had a shorted winding. The auto parts store replaced the starter for free, but I had to eat the other parts and my wasted time. Moral of the story.......you get what you pay for. These "lifetime" remanufactured auto parts are trash. Sounds like the core you gave them was better than what you got. This is the reason I quit buying that crap and keep repairing my original components whenever possible. When I do buy I spend the extra money and get from a reputable source (like an OEM factory rebuild). For those unable to repair/rebuild themselves another option is to take your starters/alternators into a local "auto electric" business that specializes in such repairs/rebuilds. Tim

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