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Start me up - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
Start me up
Had trouble starting the car this morning. I've noticed it's done the same thing a few times now, and I don't entirely understand why. What happens is:

1. I try to start the car, get a whirring sound and then nothing. Nada. Nil. Starter does absolutely zilch from then on, until:

2. I try to start it with the handle, and the engine turns over but doesn't start. There's no kickback from the starting-handle (which there sometimes is); just nothing happens.

3. I try to start it again properly, and this time it fires up perfectly.

I'm wondering if something is out of line, out of sync, or something (okay, so I have no idea, I'm guessing wildly with very little supporting knowledge) and turning the engine over is just lining it up? It's very annoying, anyway, although it makes a good spectator sport, particularly when it happens at work.

* * *

In other news: Had a lovely evening with lnr last night. Sin-free lasagne with weird not-really-white-sauce topping came out much better than I expected; dessert was wonderful. (;-)

Absolutely shattered this morning, mind, but still managed to get up, phone people about job application forms etc., and get into work only 10 minutes late. Go me.

I have a counselling appointment in about an hour's time. Ironically, that's about the only thing I'm feeling really miserable and stressy about at this precise moment... Hey ho.

Current Mood: IW4 a little more time

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Comments
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j4 From: j4 Date: March 26th, 2003 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I last ran her on Monday. Not exactly a long idle period!

So what does "priming" actually mean in this context? And how does turning the starter handle do that? (Spot the clueless newbie. Hey, I'm doing my best.)
crazyscot From: crazyscot Date: March 26th, 2003 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Priming squirts a little fuel into the carb so there's something there to go bang when you turn her over. This is generally a good idea when cold-starting such an engine; in a carb engine, any petrol left in the cylinders tends to evaporate. (I don't know about old motors, but having an explicit primer is very common on petrol lawnmowers and piston engined aircraft.) hoiho is probably right; it seems plausible that the starter handle maybe mechanically tickles a primer, and that the electric start doesn't; it's also plausible that turning her over with the handle maybe sucked a little gas in from the carb, giving the same effect.

If there's no explicit engine primer, but there is an accelerator pump hooked up to the gas pedal (and I'd be very surprised if there wasn't), you can usually achieve the same effect by squeezing the gas pedal once or twice before starting. (Not too much, or you'll flood her.) Do be sure to get a second opinion, though; I'm fairly new to this too :-)
j4 From: j4 Date: March 26th, 2003 08:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the explanation! Being able to just squeeze the gas a bit would be a lot more convenient than having to get out and use the starter-handle...

Seem to be getting lots of opinions... will have to work out which solutions I can try without risking making things worse. Ah well, it's all a learning process!
chrisvenus From: chrisvenus Date: March 26th, 2003 05:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I'm no mechanic but I have tinkered a bit. That lack of any noise is clearly the starter motor as you said. If I recall correctly a jammed starter motor usually goes "clunk" or "click" or something rather than making no noise at all. If this was the case though then I can happily believe that using the handle might mechanically disengage the starter motor in a way that the electric start wouldn't have done. However, I am not sure what would cause the starter motor to stick really.

I'm not sure I believe other people's comments on fuel lines since even if there is no petrol anywhere in the car turning the key should turn over the engine via the starter motor (which is entirely battery powered). Next time it does it I'd suggest peering at the starter motor to see if it looks alright. And in fact I would suggest peering at it before then to know what it should like like and where it is.

Oh, and lastly I should disclaim that I have never tinkered with a car as old as yours so it could be that what I am saying is only really valid on newer cars. Certainly I have no idea where the starting-handle comes into things or what kickback or lack of it might mean. :)

Anyway, good luck with sorting it.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 26th, 2003 06:49 am (UTC) (Link)
turning the key should turn over the engine via the starter motor

Turning the key switches the ignition on (and that bit's working okay, or at least I assume it is, because the light comes on that says it's working). The starter motor is controlled separately.

Mind you I don't know enough about modern cars to know how much difference this (or any of the rest of it) might make! Before I got this car I didn't even know how an internal combustion engine worked. :)
chrisvenus From: chrisvenus Date: March 26th, 2003 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Re:

OK. Well, it sounds to me like your car is well behind the times that I am used to. Give me auto-choke, electronically controlled fuel injection, ABS and air conditioning please. So much easier. :) Least I don't have one of those automatic gear boxes anyway. :)
brrm From: brrm Date: March 26th, 2003 07:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Electronically-managed engines are all very well until something goes wrong with the computer. :)
(or a marten chews through an essential control wire, as happened to my parents)
Said marten also chewed through a brake servo pipe on their van, with the result that I drove off down the hill from their house to discover completely unassisted brakes. Oops.

rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: March 26th, 2003 06:44 am (UTC) (Link)
My family used to have a car that behaved very like this; what was happening was a starter motor problem, but not a blockage. The starter motor was for some unfathomable reason tending to come to rest with the little rotating magnetic bit perpendicular to the poles where current comes when one turns the ignition [ ooh, technical terms ] and any kind of jiggling the starter motor to get that off alignment would then let it start fine. My father got in the habit of carrying a Very Long Skewer with which to poke the starter motor directly, mostly so that he could make people boggle by fixing his problems with a dramatic stabbing motion under the bonnet.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 26th, 2003 06:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent! I shall have to invest in a skewer. Actually, though, I think the starting-handle makes for a good enough spectator sport...

What you're saying about getting things lined up (skipping all the technical terms) sounds very plausible though. Unfortunately, though, I know there's no way I will be able to reproduce this problem while somebody who can diagnose it reliably is watching; as soon as she knows she's being watched, she starts perfectly. Little show-off. :)
ewx From: ewx Date: March 26th, 2003 11:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Your dessert seems to be rather giggly just now l-)
j4 From: j4 Date: March 27th, 2003 03:11 am (UTC) (Link)
*laugh* Cool! Giggly dessert is fun.
wintrmute From: wintrmute Date: March 26th, 2003 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
You press the starter, there's a whirr but nothing else?

SOunds like the solenoid in the starter motor isn't doing its job right anymore. (The solenoid can be replaced without having to replace the entire starter motor. Although once they take it out and open it up, they'll probably mention that the brushes are worn and could do with replacing while you're at it - which is probably about right.)

That cranking it with the handle sort-of fixes this seems about right, although I can't explain why the car doesn't start with the crank. (Cranking engine turns flywheel, jolting a starter motor that's only partially engaged, causing it to return to retracted position.)

Are you familiar with starting the car with the crank? I mean, do you know that cranking it in that way *normally* starts the car? Or is it possible that the crank-method-not-starting is unrelated?
j4 From: j4 Date: March 27th, 2003 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
You press the starter, there's a whirr but nothing else?

No, normally if I have a bit of trouble starting it there's just a whirr the first time, then it starts okay on the second or third attempt. In the situation I'm describing above it whirrs the first time then makes no noise at all (i.e. pressing the starter[1] doesn't do anything at all) thereafter until I've re-aligned it.

Are you familiar with starting the car with the crank?

I've started it successfully with the crank before. I've also tried to start it with the crank and just got a kickback that nearly tore my arm off at the shoulder. ("Mistakes you only make once", number 237 of an occasional series.) For the crank to do nothing is a bit weird... Though maybe I just don't have the arm strength to turn the engine fast enough! I'll just have to find a big strong man to come and look at my car for me. ;-)
wintrmute From: wintrmute Date: March 27th, 2003 03:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm.. The whirring-starter-but-not-starting is almost certainly the starter solenoid being dodgy. (Dunno what it is about solenoids.. I've had one break in just about every car I've ever owned -- and it's probably one of the few parts that doesn't receive undue wear due to driving style)

The nothing-happening-at-all is different though. Umm.. I'd normally say the main starter relay was at fault here, except I can't see any reason why cranking the engine would fix it.. Relays tend to just work until they break, and stay broken.

If you happen to bring the car down to London and it's still not fixed, I can find out for sure.

In the meantime, I suggest always parking facing downhill :)
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