How hard should I "tap" a starter - Vintage Mustang Forums

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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2002, 04:55 PM
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It is that time of year again, when I get all excited about getting the Mustang out of the barn. But I have one small problem. I cannot get it to start. When I turn the ignition, all I get is a loud clicking sound. I know it is not the battery becuase I have taken a portable jumper out there and it still does the same thing, besides the head lights are still very bright. That leaves me with the starter or solenoid. My grandfather, who is more mechanically inclined than I am, said I should get a tire iron and "bang" on the starter while someone tries to start it. If that does not work he said I should take a set of jumper cables and run one cable from the positive side of the battery to the power connector on the starter, causing a by-passing of the solenoid. My questions are:
1) How hard is a "bang". Would a light tap do it, or should I put some force behind it?
2) The by-passing of the solenoid sounds great and all, but I have no clue on how to do it. Should I disconnect the power cable to the starter, then connect the jumper cables?
3) If none of this works, can I simply push it up the hill and let it roll down in second gear then pop the clutch?
Can anyone enlighten me on how to do this? I really do not want my first ride of the spring in my baby to be on the back of the flatbed.
Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2002, 05:03 PM
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Are you sure it is the starter?
Maybe pull the plugs and squirt a little oil or WD 40 in there.
If you must bang the starter use a rubber mallet.
You may have a little rust around the rings if you have not started in some time and the engine might be tight.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2002, 05:10 PM
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I am pretty sure it is the starter or solenoid. I try to start it about every three to four weeks. The last time I started it, I turned the ignition I heard the clicking sound, then there was a slight hesitation (pause?), and then the car cranked and started up as normal. This time it just "clicked"
post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2002, 05:16 PM
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Before you do anything get a second person to turn over the ignition while you listen under the hood for the source of the clicking. Had this EXACT problem two weeks ago on the F-100 and blamed it on the starter w/o getting help. Bought the starter at NAPA and was just about to begin my work when my wife came home. Had her try to start it and ended up tracing the click to the solenoid. Took back the $60 starter and bought the $10 solenoid and installed it. Darned if that did not fix it. Had the brilliant plan of trying to rejump the 8 month old battery (although that was the first thing I did before anything) and sure enough it caught and started right up. Woo hoo, or so I thought until I turned her off about an hour later and got the ol' clicking again. You guessed it--bad alternator! D'oh! If you do trace the click to the starter itself you may need to give it a decent whack to engage the gear. If that cures it, I'd suggest a new starter soon. Good luck!

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2002, 05:21 PM
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I second the solenoid vote. That's happened to me a couple of times already.

But if you must bang something, remember this golden rule of percussive adjustment: Once is maintenance, twice is abuse!


post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2002, 05:27 PM
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I've never tapped a starter, usually I just replace them if the solenoid is bad.

There are 4 wires connected to the solenoid, two big ones and two small ones. To test the solenoid run a jumper cable from one big wire to the other. If the motor turns over you have a bad solenoid, if it still doesn't do anything you probably have a bad starter. If you want to start the motor with a bad solenoid you can turn the key one click and then jump the solenoid to start the car.

If you think the motor might be frozen pull the plugs, put it in neutral and put a socket and breaker bar on the crankshaft bolt. Turn clockwise. If it turns over it's not frozen.

Finally if you want to push it down a hill then turn the key one click, let it roll until you get to around 3 or 4 MPH, put it in gear (I've used first, second might put less stress on the crank) and let the clutch out. You don't need to be going too fast, and you don't want to pop the clutch out fast like your doing a burnout (that puts unnecessary stress on your drivetrain) but you don't want to let it out too slow either or the car might stop.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2002, 05:28 PM
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grampa is right !! it sounds like you might have a dead spot in the starter or it is hung up . you can jusy hook the cable to pos side of the battery and the other to the line that goes down to the starter where it is hooked to the solenoid. If that dont get it to crank then reach boy and tap the starter with a ballpeen hammer while someone turns the ignition key for you . you cant hurt the starter as long as you hit the side of the case cause you wont be able to get a big swing at it !! ....LOL. You can push start it since it is a manual trans 2nd or third gear should work . if you cant bypass the solenoid you might have to get another starter or reuild your old one but you might be lucky and just need a solenoid. good luck either way at least it isnt a real big job !! ( i hope)
post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2002, 06:20 PM
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Your grampa is right about freeing up a stuck starter with a sharp rap with a screwdriver or heavier object. The solenoid has my vote, but it wouldn't hurt to perform the bypass from the hot side of the solenoid to the starter side to see if that kicks it over. Then you know it's the solenoid. If it doesn't kick over it still might not be the starter. I had this happen with my step-dad's 73 Mercury Montego. I replaced the battery, the solenoid and the starter and still no joy. Turned out it was a perfectly healthy looking positive battery cable. Internally it was corroded away from the connector. Expensive diagnostic process. Take a look at the cables too.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2002, 06:21 PM
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Even though your lights seem bright, I would still clean all of the battery terminals, the grounding lug on the block, the grounding lug that goes from the back of the passenger side cyl, head, all of the connections on the solenoid itself, the lug that is on the starter, make sure the battery is full and charge the battery overnight. Also clean the ground for the regulator. A clicking solenoid is a good clue to not having enough voltage in my most humble experience. And since it has been sitting, there could be a teense more corrosion than there was when you last started the car. If you still have to tap the starter, it either has a dead spot or the Bendix drive is not operating correctly. In which case it is time for a new starter.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2002, 06:27 PM
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All these posts, and noone has answered your question: How hard of a bang. I'd say not as hard as a framing hammer, and a little lighter than hanging sheetrock. One or two good whacks will free it up IF it can be freed up that way.

My vote is on not enough juice getting to the starter (low battery or bad connection).
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2002, 09:27 PM
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Fords are not very tolerent of corrosion. Most starter problems can be corrected by cleaning the connections. Start at the battery, remove the terminals and clean them and then do the same to all the wires on the solinoid, at the starter remove and clean the starter cable and the terminal post. Also remove the ground cable from the block and clean that terminal. Now give it a try
If you have to hit it with a hammer give a couple of sharp rapps on the body. Oh and bypassing the starter with jumper cables rmay work for a Chevy but your Ford starter most likely will not respond to that.
post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-27-2002, 01:44 AM
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When I went to visit family in France my cousin loaned me a old Mercedes for a weekend trip to Normandie. She also loaned me a hammer to tap the starter when it would frequently stick. The car looked pretty nice but at the rest stops I had to pop the hood and slip the hammer out from up my sleave. Kinda embarrassing

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