Why is the starter is not engaging?

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Why is the starter is not engaging?

Post by fiatfam » Fri Oct 11, 2019 3:55 pm

I am having issues with my 1981 Spider again. The old starter was not working as it should. I would turn the key, all the gauges came on but it would not engage and start the engine. I took your advice and purchased a high torque starter from AR but the mechanic said it was hitting the fly wheel. So I dropped back and got a regular starter. It went in nicely but it is hit and miss when I turn the key. Sometimes it works well other times I have to turn the key multiple times. I was thinking brown wire but the gauges should not work if that was it, could it be a relay?
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Re: Why is the starter is not engaging?

Post by dinghyguy » Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:50 pm

Sounds a lot like the contacts in the ignition switch to me. There is a good article on how to rebuild the ignition switch in the library, and it is relatively easy to do.

you might look at the white plug connector that the ignition switch wiring passes through and see how many connections are brown and look cooked, particularly the red wire which is the one to the starter i think.

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Re: Why is the starter is not engaging?

Post by bartigue » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:51 pm

Starters are extremely simple devices - if you think it is the ignition switch then put a voltmeter on the solenoid wire (the little wire plugged into the starter solenoid) and turn the key. If it is getting power then it is not the ignition switch. If it is intermittent then it may be the switch, or the wiring.

Most of the time what you are describing is caused by a bad starter. I've never heard of a starter "hitting the flywheel" unless you have a wonky flywheel or somehow you got the wrong starter. I'd never go back to the stock unit once going through the pain of getting the old style out - what did Autoricambi say about the new starter?

Bad starters behave the same way regardless of car - they don't start. They may crank a little and sometimes start, but mostly they just don't do anything, or they annoyingly dim the lights inside the car and still don't do anything.
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Re: Why is the starter is not engaging?

Post by spider2081 » Fri Oct 11, 2019 6:21 pm

HAve you down loaded from the library Fiat publication " Spider 2000 Electrical Diagnostic Manual 1980-81" > If not I suggest you do. Looking at the wire diagram for the starter circuit you will find 2 single connectors labeled C6 and C7. These connectors are located in the engine compartment behind the alternator near the driver side engine mount. Either or both of these connectors contribute to the infamous dreaded "click" when the ignition switch is turned to the "start" position. Separating both connectors and cleaning the contacts and reassembling them cures many ills. C7 is for the Brown wire that brings battery voltage to the ignition switch. C6 is the red wire that brings power from the ignition switch "start" position to the starter solenoid to engage the starter. If you haven't checked or cleaned them I would recommend trying that. The brown wire fix doesn't actually Fix anything it bypasses the C7 connection by installing a new wire from the battery to the unused terminal 30 on the ignition switch.
Also have you inspected the 6 cavity ignition switch connector? This connector is located about 8 inches behind the ignition switch. It has 5 wires in it often this connector causes intermittent starter operation. Last thought is the main chassis to bell housing ground wire intact??
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Re: Why is the starter is not engaging?

Post by rridge » Fri Oct 11, 2019 6:34 pm

Wiring varies year to year on Spiders. The fuel injected Spiders have adequate sized alternators and adequate wire gauge battery to starter and starter to ignition switch. On my '81 Dave's suggestion of cleaning the two large white connectors has always cleared a hot engine no crank situation.
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