Diagnosing starting issue 95 Gmc jimmy

First let me say I am clearly not a mechanic but I do try to do as much as I can myself.
So I think my starter might be failing to engage the flywheel after I drove through some flood water and the car died (engine could have gotten hydrolocked but not sure as I found no water in the oil)

Now when I try to start it I hear the starter spin and I hear the fuel pump in action but the engine itself does nothing not a sound, no pullies/belts move just wanted to know if this is normal when a starter doesn’t engage or is it a sign of a more serious issue as I hate to pay a mechanic to diagnose the problem only to find out I need to rebuild the engine (cheaper to just by a used car at that point)

Sounds like the sprag clutch in the Bendix drive in the nose of the starter has gone bad, probably from the flooding. You probably just need a new starter.


In cases of hydrolock most of the water remains in the cylinders, very little in the oil. You would have to drain the oil and closely examine it for water droplets. Absents of water on the dipstick is not an indication that hydrolock did not occur.

In a case of hydrolock the starter will usually engage the ring gear with a loud clunk but the starter won’t spin unless by chance the starter drive broke because of the seized engine.

I have not seen water alone cause a starter to fail, perhaps it is just old and rusty enough for flood water to cause failure.

Using a long ratchet or breaker bar with a socket try to turn the crankshaft by hand.

If the starter sounds normal when it spins, then you have probably broken the crankshaft.

If it just gives a steady electric “whirr” noise, the starter is probably bad.