Prevent Starter Shorts

Most Owner’s Manuals for electric start engines caution you to not crank the engine for more than 10 seconds at a time without pausing for 60 seconds to allow the starter to cool. During normal engine start-up, a starter can draw upwards of 300 amps depending on the size and condition of the battery. That high of an amp draw will heat up the windings in the armature quickly. Without the 60 second pause for cooling, the resin used to insulate the wires will start to melt. (You know that very strong electrical, burnt smell). If the coating is burnt off the wires, the wires will short creating even more heat. Most failures of this nature can be detected by smell even before the starter is removed or disassembled. A poor ground can also cause excessive heat, not only in the starter but in the rest of the starting system as well (cables, ignition switch and solenoid).

More words of caution – NEVER tap on the starter. The permanent magnets that are adhered to the inside of the starter are very brittle. Tapping can cause the magnet to crack and chip. Once this happens, you must replace the entire starter, as the case is not a service part.

Solenoid Types and Installation

While we’re on the subject of engine starting, another integral component is the starter solenoid. There are 2 basic types of solenoids, self-grounding and non-self grounding. Generally, it is easy to ascertain the difference. Self-grounding solenoids normally have only one small post. However, solenoids with two small posts are usually associated with some type of safety feature that prevent the starting of the motor unless certain functions are on or off accordingly.

A couple of notes when installing a solenoid,

  1. Make sure to get a good connection between the electrical connector, solenoid and ground (if applicable).
  2. Free all mounting surfaces of dirt, debris and corrosion.
  3. Last but not least – When installing the cables on the large posts, use two wrenches to tighten. Using only one wrench can rotate the post and prohibit its ability to transfer electricity to the starter motor.