My 97 K1500 wont start. Please help

so yesterday i drove my 97 k1500 to work, less than one mile from my house. Ran fine, after i finished working i came back to my truck to go home turned the key “CLICK” nothing. will not start. I checked all fluids, battery, and starter. all fluids in operating range, full battery, so i assumed my starter had givin up. Took my starter into the shop to get tested, nothing wrong with it. I put the starter back in the truck got in turned the key and again a single “CLICK”. for every new turn of the key i hear a single “CLICK” which to me, although i am no mechanic, sounds like the starter engaging. i thought maybe the starter is in fact engaging but can not turn my flywheel, so i got a new starter, installed it and “CLICK” same thing. Please help, i have no idea what to do now.

Remove both battery cables from the battery. And on the positive cable peel back the red rubber cover to expose the two terminals. If a lot of corrosion is found under the rubber cover, clean the corrosion and reconnect the battery cables. If this gets the engine started, plan on replacing the positive battery cable assembly.


I already checked my terminals, they are both clean. also the battery is newer, within the past three months

Have you tried starting in “neutral” when this happens. It may be a bad neutral safety switch. Usually there is no “click” but try starting in neutral anyway. If the engine starts…you know what to replace. If your vehicle is a standard shift…it may be the “clutch interlock switch” which is basically the same thing as a neutral safety switch. It’s a little harder to diagnose as bad because putting the shifter in neutral has no effect.

have you actually taken the terminals off and cleaned them? if they are aftermarket connectors, you will also have to clean where the wire connects with the clamps.

Check the voltage of the battery when you have someone try to start it and report your results. You are describing a classic bad battery (new ones can be defective).

The battery is a side post battery, so there aren’t necessarily Terminals, i tried to jump it with my wifes car so i am not sure the battery voltage is the problem… i do not have a standard, so even with an automatic, put it in neutral?

there are terminals, just a different kind. I think its likely that your problem lies there. you can t tell if they are making good contact by looking at them . you have to take them off and clean them.

@wesw when i put the new battery in i used new bolts to secure the cables.
@missileman i think you may be on to something, when my wife gets home from work i will have her take me to my truck so i can try that, then report back. the neutral safety switch is located on the side of the transmission correct?

did you clean the mating surfaces with a wire brush or sandpaper or a file? did you use some kind of oxidation inhibitor? if not this could still be your problem. new bolts or nuts, mean little. has the weather been wet?

@missileman is there an easy way to check that switch without getting to involved?

@wesw not really i live in the sierra nevadas and we had a dry winter, there were some thunderstorms a month or more ago

@wesw so you’re saying the surfaces on the ends of the cables?

wouldn t hurt to re check and clean connections before you spend any money. I ve had times when all the lights and stuff would work but the connection surfaces had oxidized enough that not enough current could pass thru to turn over the engine. just a click. it could be other things but experience has taught me to check the cheap simple fix first

You want to take the end of the positive battery cable apart to see if something like this is going on.


yes and the surface that they are flat against on the battery.

Do you own and/or know how to use a simple voltmeter?

@asemaster i do not own a voltmeter, I could maybe borrow one, what aould i be checking? Battery? or volts at the starter?

With great respect to Missileman, it sounds like the starter solenoid is sliding the proper parts to engage the starter gear with the flywheel and enable the circuits to the motor windings (often called the "Bendix assembly), and if the neutral safety switch were bad that would not be happening.

One question I have: when you put in the new starter, did you also replace the solenoid assembly? I ask because the contacts that enable the motor windings are in the solenoid assembly (the Bendix assembly), and if you’ve changed only the motor (possible on this vehicle) you’ve reinstalled the problems. The contacts can fry over time, which would allow the solenoid to engage the gears but not allow power to the motor windings.

You may also want to open the hood, have a friend try to start the engine, and listen to where the click seems to be coming from. If it’s coming from the underhood relay box instead of the bendix assembly, you need to check for voltage at the starter motor terminals. If it’s coming from the starter assembly, that means the problem is there and you should refer to my earlier question for starters (pardon the pun).

And you should also check the voltage when you check to see if it exists at the starter terminals.

Please post back with the results.

Alas @missileman was absolutely 100% correct. put the truck in neutral gave it a crank, Fired right up. drove it home turned it off started it in park, now everything is fine, one last question. is it possible for the neutral safety switch to fall out of alignment temporarily? i only ask because i would rather not have to replace right away.