Starter Problems on 2001 GMC Sierra

My truck wouldn’t crank this morning (just one loud click). After checking that the battery was ok, I bought a new starter. After installation, the truck still won’t turnover. It tries to turn but just doesn’t quite get there. To troubleshoot, I touched the posts on the starter solenoid with a screwdriver, and I can hear what I think is the starter motor whizzing (not grinding). Did I just buy a dud starter? Thanks!

Maybe, but the problem may be with one of the cables that connects to the battery, or the connections right at the battery. There can be oxidation, etc. hidden inside the cables, that means they can’t conduct enough current to make the starter run strongly.

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You likely replaced a good starter.

I would check for battery voltage at the starter and for low resistance from the engine block to the negative battery post. I’d bet you have a bad ground or a bad positive cable instead.


Check if the crank fuse has blown.



Just checked; fuse is good. Good suggestion!

Thanks for the suggestion. Just tested at the battery and at the starter, and the electrical side of things looks ok. Maybe pinion in the starter isn’t aligned properly. That’s the only other thing I can think of.

How old is the battery? I know you said it was “good”…but old batteries can test “good” when they’re on their last legs.

Pushing two years old.

Lets get some clarification here:

Just to make sure I understand, with the new starter installed, the engine does not move at all when turning the key? Do you still get the one loud click, and then nothing?

Is this a super fast whizzing? Like the starter gear is just spinning without contacting anything?
and you do not get this sound when turning the ignition key to start?

you said you checked battery voltage, and voltage checks good. Did you check with a voltage tester?
if so, What is the battery voltage when you turn the ignition key to start? Does it drop at all? Does it drop below 10 volts? Does it drop to below 6 volts?

another thought: Did the old start have any shims? Did you happen to compare the two starters before you put the new one on to make sure they were similar? Count teeth, orientation, etc? You may have gotten a starter that will mount up, but is different internally.

Make sure you have a good ground, not just 12V at the starter! If you don’t have an ohm-meter, use a jumper cable from the battery to a bracket on the engine as a test.

How did you check the battery?

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Is the engine seized?
On that type of starter if you put the screwdriver between the two big posts all you will do is spin the motor. The solenoid throws the bendix into the flywheel. So, you need to jump between the B+ terminal and the + solenoid terminal.

Good comments above. Suggest to measure the “s” terminal (that’s the thinner wire of the two) at the starter when a helper turns the key to “start”. Leave everything connected and probe from the terminal to the starter case. It should measure at least 10.5 volts. Does it?

If that’s ok, its quite possible your replacement starter motor is the wrong part number or faulty. Not that unusual of a problem. I’ve purchased 2 faulty aftermarket starters. No good, right out of the box. One of them would make a whirring noise but not crank the engine. The other wouldn’t do anything other than click. To minimize this from happening to you again, try to purchase an oem version of the starter, or at least one made by the same manufacturer who makes the oem version. In my case that’s Denso. Never had any problems with Denso branded starters.