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1976 450SL, 1945 Willy's CJ2A, 2007 Dodge Nitro
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73 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
It seems my starter solenoid has now gone out. I pulled into the driveway the other day, hopped out to grab my wallet and jumped back in. When I turned the key I got a click without any crank. So having had this problem on a previous vehicle, just for kicks I got under the car and tapped the starter and solenoid with the butt of a screwdriver. It started right up. Today I went to leave the grocery store and it did the same thing. This time though even after tapping it I'm not getting any start.

Does anyone have any tips or ideas? Can I swap out this solenoid in the parking lot of the store or is this a big job?
 

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Premium Member
1975 450SL
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2,440 Posts
1) Hope it's a bad battery. That is a bit more probable with the symptoms you describe. A weak battery could have enough "oomph" to set the drive to the ring gear, but not enough to turn the engine.

2) No. it's not a 'store parking lot' job. Getting to the top bolt of the starter is notoriously difficult; usually involving 4 feet of extensions (some wobbly) and quite probably an extra arm.

In other words, PRAY it's the battery. See if getting a jump will let you start up, then check out the battery and charging system.

Good luck,
Scott
 

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Registered
1976 450SL, 1945 Willy's CJ2A, 2007 Dodge Nitro
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73 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
1) Hope it's a bad battery. That is a bit more probable with the symptoms you describe. A weak battery could have enough "oomph" to set the drive to the ring gear, but not enough to turn the engine.

2) No. it's not a 'store parking lot' job. Getting to the top bolt of the starter is notoriously difficult; usually involving 4 feet of extensions (some wobbly) and quite probably an extra arm.

In other words, PRAY it's the battery. See if getting a jump will let you start up, then check out the battery and charging system.

Good luck,
Scott
Thanks Scott. I'm 100% sure it's not the battery. The battery is 2 days old. I hear the solenoid click but it's not engaging the starter. I guess I'll get my friend to help me tow it home. I ordered the solenoid. Only one out of 5 of my local auto parts stores could even get one. Luckily it's only $50 and has a lifetime warranty.
 

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1975 450SL
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2,440 Posts
Humor me for the sake of paranoia, please. :)

Check to see if a jump will start you. If you have a problem with the alternator, you could be running off the battery, and discharged it.

Check the connections to the battery and the starter and connection blocks.

You REALLY want to eliminate everything else before you replace the starter.

There is a common failure mode in some european cars that can cause this sort of problem. There is a wire from the ignition switch (usually green) that excites the winding of the alternator. If this voltage is missing, the alternator will not put out. The usual culprit is the ignition switch. A portion of the switch (a replacable module) fails after use/time and the voltage to the field of the alternator is no longer present. Replacing the switch is more complicated than changing the oil, but a LOT less of a hassle than a starter. An alternator replacement is not a difficult job either. (Hint: look around to see if you can have yours rebuilt locally, there are shops that specialize in that sort of stuff. It's quicker and much less expensive than getting a Reman or new unit).

I'm not saying you haven't got a problem with the starter, but try to eliminate the (much) easier stuff first. Please.

Good luck in any case,
Scott
 

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Registered
1976 450SL, 1945 Willy's CJ2A, 2007 Dodge Nitro
Joined
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73 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Humor me for the sake of paranoia, please. :)

Check to see if a jump will start you. If you have a problem with the alternator, you could be running off the battery, and discharged it.

Check the connections to the battery and the starter and connection blocks.

You REALLY want to eliminate everything else before you replace the starter.

There is a common failure mode in some european cars that can cause this sort of problem. There is a wire from the ignition switch (usually green) that excites the winding of the alternator. If this voltage is missing, the alternator will not put out. The usual culprit is the ignition switch. A portion of the switch (a replacable module) fails after use/time and the voltage to the field of the alternator is no longer present. Replacing the switch is more complicated than changing the oil, but a LOT less of a hassle than a starter. An alternator replacement is not a difficult job either. (Hint: look around to see if you can have yours rebuilt locally, there are shops that specialize in that sort of stuff. It's quicker and much less expensive than getting a Reman or new unit).

I'm not saying you haven't got a problem with the starter, but try to eliminate the (much) easier stuff first. Please.

Good luck in any case,
Scott
I went to the car to tow it home earlier. My brother-in-law helped me get it home. Before we left we tried the jumper cables just in case that was the issue and got nothing. The reason I don't think it is the ignition switch is that I can hear it clicking when I turn the key. I also turned the key on and used a meter to make sure I'm getting power to the solenoid.

If I'm wrong is there a way to test the ignition switch? Also where is it located exactly? Sorry if this is a silly question, but I am tired and frustrated.

Also for anyone that thinks you can't get the solenoid out without taking the whole starter out, you can in fact do it. There are (3) 8mm bolts holding it in. You can get to 2 of them easily and to get to the third you have to take off a small brace that is bolted to the tranny housing with 2 17mm bolts.
 

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Premium Member
'72 350SL, '85 300D, '98 E320, '19 Subaru Outback (sold '14 GLK250)
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10,331 Posts
The problem with just taking the solenoid off, is that the problem could be the starter itself. I had a similar problem to yours on my 300D and it turned out that when starter stopped in certain positions, it would not operate. Letting car cool down sometimes allowed car to start.

Problem turned out to be bad contact between brushes & commutator, I believe (Shop repaired it). This article was helpful:
PeachPartsWiki: Starter Motor Rebuild

BTW, I had my SL starter replaced a couple of years ago - Got a reman Bosch off eBay for about $99 including solenoid.
 

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Registered
1976 450SL, 1945 Willy's CJ2A, 2007 Dodge Nitro
Joined
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73 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
The problem with just taking the solenoid off, is that the problem could be the starter itself. I had a similar problem to yours on my 300D and it turned out that when starter stopped in certain positions, it would not operate. Letting car cool down sometimes allowed car to start.

Problem turned out to be bad contact between brushes & commutator, I believe (Shop repaired it). This article was helpful:
PeachPartsWiki: Starter Motor Rebuild

BTW, I had my SL starter replaced a couple of years ago - Got a reman Bosch off eBay for about $99 including solenoid.
I ended up taking the solenoid out and testing it. It was very weak. So I cleaned out the plunger really well and lubed it with graphite and retested. It worked great and is now back in and working well until I can afford a new one.
 
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