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2000 Blazer Starting Issue

I had a problem when I attempted to start my 2000 Blazer LT 4wd with 98.6k miles this morning to go visit my wife in the hospital.

I’ve never had a starter go bad in any of my cars so I’m guessing. It sounds like the starter was spinning, but not engaging the flywheel. It took a few tries, but the starter engaged the flywheel, the engine started. After the engine started, it ran roughly for a few seconds before settling down. At this point I decided to take the always dependable 93 Caprice.

I’ve been making a lot of short trips back and forth to the hospital since last Friday when my wife was admitted. I think the battery is a little run-down, but haven’t had the chance to put it on a charger.

The Blazer has never done this before with a low battery, usually the solenoid just clicks when the battery is dead.

I was wondering if a weak battery and cold weather (20 degrees, 30 mph wind) could cause problems with the solenoid engaging?

I’m going to charge the battery (1.5 years old) and maybe have it load tested and see if that helps before I call my mechanic.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.


Ed B

The cold and wind are unlikely to have had anything to do with the starter’s malfunction.

From your description this sounds like the starter drive, also known as the starter bendix, is failing. This is the small gear that slides out and engages the engine’s flywheel or flexplate. This drive is supposed to drive in one direction and freewheel in the other. Your’s is beginning to fail, and is freewheeling in both directions sometimes. It will eventually freewheel all the time, and you won’t be able to start the engine.

While the bendix can be replaced as part of the starter, you may be better off by replacing the entire starter.

You can have the auto part’s store check the battery and most will do it for free. But I believe Jay is right and your problem is with the bendix unit.

While You’re At It, Have Somebody Check All Battery Cables And Connections.
Follow Joseph’s suggestion.

Additionally, Have the battery end of the cables disconnected at the battery, cleaned, and reinstalled.

If they can, have the auto parts or service technician test the functioning of the alternator, as well.

I personally would not be immediately sure that the starter is the culprit. It could be (the symptoms support what Jay and Joseph say), but I would check the battery / charging system, first, before pursuing a starter replacement. It would be a shame to replace a perfectly good starter, have the same problem, and then find a bad connection, battery, alternator, etcetera.

I would be interested in knowing if the battery charge “fixes” the starting problem. If it does, I would continue with plans to get it checked out. The “fix” may be short lived.

Let us know what happens.

Ed, Best wishes to you and your wife.

Thanks for the replies. I charged the battery, but I suspect it’s a starter problem. When I start it, the engine will turn over 2 or 3 times and then the starter will free wheel.

The Missus is home but pretty sore, thanks for asking. I’m going to be too busy for the next few days to worry about the truck. I’ll take it to the mechanic after the holidays and post back with the results.


Ed B.

Finally had a chance to reinstall the battery and clean the terminals. The truck started after turning over a few times, ran a little rough then settled down. The truck is starting and running normally. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for now. I’ll keep an ear on the starter and a VOM on the battery.

Thanks again,

Ed B.

Just an update on the starter situation. The starter been acting up, usually when the temp is 25 degrees or less. Truck always starts on the second try.

The truck was in for service yesterday and my mechanic verified the starter is on its way out. The rough estimate was $240-250 for a rebuilt starter and ~1 hour of labor. Seems reasonable to me. As long as the starter isn’t grinding there shouldn’t be any damage to the flywheel.

Thanks for the replies,

Ed B.