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Nothing from the starter...

roadbiker

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2008
Messages
9
Location
Powder Springs, GA
Corvette
1981 2-tone Claret
Greetings. I need some help with my '81. First, a little about the car. I bought it in 1985 from the original owner, who was a good friend. Now it has only about 27,000 miles on it. It looks new inside and out, and even still as a new car smell. I've won a bunch of shows over the years, but stopped showing when I moved from Long Island to GA. It has been modified with the complete removal of the ECM, cat, etc. The entire system was replaced with an MSD ignition system, Edelbrock intake manifold and carb, hooker headers, and 2 1/2" x-pipe exhaust. The car runs and sounds like a Corvette is supposed to.

I drove it last week and everything was fine. It ran great, as always. But the other day I wanted to take it for a drive and NOTHING. The battery is only a few months old and the terminals are clean. Everything electrical in the car works fine - except the starter. When I turn the key I get nothing. No sounds from the started and no draw on the battery (the dome light doesn't even dim). I'm thinking it could be caused by...


  • The clutch neutral safety switch (it's a 4 spd)
  • The solenoid, or...
  • The starter

I don't think it could be caused by the factory alarm (which hasn't worked in years). Is there something I am missing? Is there a good way to diagnose and fix it?

Thanks so much for your help!

Jim
 

bill81vette

Moderator
Joined
Jan 17, 2004
Messages
4,287
Location
Troy,NY
Corvette
1981 dark blue metallic
1st Welcome to CAC!!!
2nd if its the alarm unhook theneg side of the battery and hook it back up.
that should work.(it does for me)...the solenoid is under the ashtray.
if that doesn't work,i would pull the starter and try to see if engages on the bench.
double check all your grounds,make sure that they are clean.
good luck!!!!!
 

roadbiker

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2008
Messages
9
Location
Powder Springs, GA
Corvette
1981 2-tone Claret
1st Welcome to CAC!!!
2nd if its the alarm unhook theneg side of the battery and hook it back up.
that should work.(it does for me)...the solenoid is under the ashtray.
if that doesn't work,i would pull the starter and try to see if engages on the bench.
double check all your grounds,make sure that they are clean.
good luck!!!!!

Thanks Bill! I'll give it a shot today. I'm not working today so my plan is to try and get it going. I checked the battery terminals and everything is clean and tight. Next I am going to try the clutch safety switch (PITA to get to), the solenoid, and the starter - in that order. I thought that there might be a fuse in the fuse panel, but it does't look like there is one, but there is a fueable link near the starter (I have the shop manual). On a side note, I was checking to make sure that everything else was functioning and I discovered (with the key on the on/running position) that the directionals are now also not working, although the emergency flashers do work. They were also working fine the last time I drove the car (a week ago now). And I have a burnt out cornering light (a somewhat easy fix).

This morning I am going to get under the dash and start with the clutch safety switch. Ultimately I may have to remove the starter to check it out, although something tells me that's not what it is.

I hate electrical problems and as a last resort I'll end up sending it to a local/reliable shop that specializes in Corvettes.

Thanks again!
 

LLC5

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
2,299
Location
Wa.
Corvette
98 black 6spd convert.
Thanks Bill! I'll give it a shot today. I'm not working today so my plan is to try and get it going. I checked the battery terminals and everything is clean and tight. Next I am going to try the clutch safety switch (PITA to get to), the solenoid, and the starter - in that order. I thought that there might be a fuse in the fuse panel, but it does't look like there is one, but there is a fueable link near the starter (I have the shop manual). On a side note, I was checking to make sure that everything else was functioning and I discovered (with the key on the on/running position) that the directionals are now also not working, although the emergency flashers do work. They were also working fine the last time I drove the car (a week ago now). And I have a burnt out cornering light (a somewhat easy fix).

This morning I am going to get under the dash and start with the clutch safety switch. Ultimately I may have to remove the starter to check it out, although something tells me that's not what it is.

I hate electrical problems and as a last resort I'll end up sending it to a local/reliable shop that specializes in Corvettes.

Thanks again!


I would start with testing the battery with a carbon pile load tester, make sure the cables are clean and tight and do not twist when tight. If all checks good, see if there is battery voltage on the purple starter wire with the ignition switch in the "crank" position. If there is battery voltage in the "crank" position, have someone hit the starter hard with a solid object (I use a 5 lb steel dead blow) with the ignition switch in the crank position and see if it starts. If it does you have a problem with the starter. Actually I would probably do the dead blow test first, then proceed with the rest.
 
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roadbiker

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2008
Messages
9
Location
Powder Springs, GA
Corvette
1981 2-tone Claret
I would start with testing the battery with a carbon pile load tester, make sure the cables are clean and tight and do not twist when tight. If all checks good, see if there is battery voltage on the purple starter wire with the ignition switch in the "crank" position. If there is battery voltage in the "crank" position, have someone hit the starter hard with a solid object (I use a 5 lb steel dead blow) with the ignition switch in the crank position and see if it starts. If it does you have a problem with the starter. Actually I would probably do the dead blow test first, then proceed with the rest.

Thanks! I thought of the dead blow too. I'll try that first. I don't have a
carbon pile load tester. Can I do the same thing with a battery charger? It check the battery. I'm pretty sure it's not the battery - it's only a few months old. The terminal are clean and tight (I will recheck) and until the last time I drove it everything was fine.

All the best!
 

roadbiker

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2008
Messages
9
Location
Powder Springs, GA
Corvette
1981 2-tone Claret
1st Welcome to CAC!!!
2nd if its the alarm unhook theneg side of the battery and hook it back up.
that should work.(it does for me)...the solenoid is under the ashtray.
if that doesn't work,i would pull the starter and try to see if engages on the bench.
double check all your grounds,make sure that they are clean.
good luck!!!!!

Great News! I disconnected and reconnected the battery as you suggested and it worked! Thanks so much! I couldn't imagine is was something too serious (or expensive). The car has only 27,000 miles on it and it's hard to believe that a starter with that little mileage would fail, although I do realize that it is an electrical part and anything can happen.

Now on to see why the turning signals stopped working! (hopefully only a fuse).

All the best, Jim
 

Tom Bryant

Well-known member
Administrator
Joined
Nov 9, 2000
Messages
7,238
Location
Edgerton, Ohio, United States
Corvette
1959 black 270hp (9/2/69) 1981 Beige L81(10/20/80)
Since the cornering light comes on with the turn signal I'd change that bulb first and see if that fixes your problem.

Tom
 

roadbiker

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2008
Messages
9
Location
Powder Springs, GA
Corvette
1981 2-tone Claret
Since the cornering light comes on with the turn signal I'd change that bulb first and see if that fixes your problem.

Tom

Thanks Tom. I replaced all of the bulbs and still no turning signals. The hazard lights all work (and flash), so I'm hoping it's simply the flasher unit.

Thanks again, Jim
 

Tom Bryant

Well-known member
Administrator
Joined
Nov 9, 2000
Messages
7,238
Location
Edgerton, Ohio, United States
Corvette
1959 black 270hp (9/2/69) 1981 Beige L81(10/20/80)
Could be. Do they come on and not flash or don't come on at all?

By the way. Keep your original bulbs that were still working. I think most, if not all replacements, even AC Delco now come from China.

Tom
 

roadbiker

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2008
Messages
9
Location
Powder Springs, GA
Corvette
1981 2-tone Claret
Could be. Do they come on and not flash or don't come on at all?

By the way. Keep your original bulbs that were still working. I think most, if not all replacements, even AC Delco now come from China.

Tom

Hi Tom. Tanks so much for your help.

When I activate the tuning signals with the driving or headlights on, the cornering lights come on, but not the turning/marker lights.

All of the lights work and flash when the hazard flasher is on, except the rear side marker lights. All marker lights come on when the driving and/or headlights are on. I really hope it's not something in the steering column.

Doesn't everything come from China these days? :mad

Thanks!
 
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