Can a starter lock up solid?


#1

I just got a car for free. A 1998 Sunfire that the owner claimed ran great when parked. This was over a year ago. Now with a fresh battery in it when you turn the key all you hear is the click of the starter but it does not spin the motor. I tryed hitting it with a hammer but that did no good. I dont want to spend any money on this car if I dont know it runs, so I guess my question is, is it possable for a starter motor to lock up solid?? My fear is that the cars motor it self is siezed, even though the oil looks clean…



Thanks as always


#2

You should put the trans in NEUTRAL and attempt to turn the engine over with a socket/ratchet on the crank pulley bolt.
Pulling the spark plugs would also help a little bit.

If the oil in the engine is VERY clean, then I would be suspicious about the engine itself.
You would be surprised how many people will seize an engine up due to lack of oil and then change the oil and filter while thinking that it may somehow cure itself.

I’ve even seen this a few times with connecting rods sticking through the block of all things.


#3

If the engine isn’t seized, the starter Bendix gear may be stuck in the flywheel.

If there is an inspection plate on the engine block you may be able to see if this is the problem without pulling the starter off.

Two reasons for the Bendix sticking in the flywheel: one is the Bendix is worn out or, two, there is a broken or chipped tooth in the ring gear.


#4

It is possible for a wire in the starter motor to burn out, so the solenoid clicks but the motor wont turn.

A couple summers ago, I got a car for $30 that had been sitting for 6 years with a blown head gasket. I couldnt turn the engine with a breaker bar on the bottom pulley. But I tried a known good battery in it, and it surprisingly started and ran quite nicely. Of course I had to pull over every 5 miles and let it cool off.


#5

Another possibility is that the solenoid isn’t supplying power to the starter motor. The plunger may not be retracting all the way to make contact or the contact surfaces might be corroded.

Buy ($15) or borrow a DVM and measure the voltage to the solenoid and then at the starter motor when the key is turned to START.

BTW- The meter will come in handy for all sorts of testing scenarios on your vehicles and around the house.


#6

A battery that has Been sitting for a year is surely discharged and DOA. Put another battery in it and try again. A jump start cannot supply ALL the power to start a car with a dead battery… the jumper cables and clamps won’t conduct the 100 plus amps needed.


#7

Turn your headlights on. If the headlights dim a lot when you turn on the starter, you may have some kind of lockup condition in either the engine or the starter or have a dirty battery cable connection or have a bad battery. This may be accompanied by a rapid clicking or chattering from the solenoid pulling in and releasing. Check both ends of both positive and negative battery cables for cleanliness. If the starter solenoid rapidly clicks, that is because it is not getting the constant voltage it needs to keep the solenoid actuated. This can happen when the high current demand from the starter motor drops the battery voltage. If the headlights do not dim when you try to start, your starter solenoid switch contacts may not be closing. Note that the starter solenoid does two things: It engages the starter gear to the engine flywheel gear and it closes a switch to bring battery power to the starter motor.