Starter noise/clunk

Discussion in '80-Series Tech' started by Brian894X4, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. Brian894X4

    Brian894X4

    Messages:
    1,257
    Location:
    Oregon
    I knows others have experienced this and now I'm really wondering what's going on.

    It started out with an aftermarket starter (unknown brand) that the PO had installed before I bought the rig. On occasion, with seemingly no ryme or reason, on start up, the somewhere in the middle of cranking, there would be a thud or clunk noise.

    I later replaced the starter with an OEM remanufactured unit when doing a bunch of other PM and while the problem is still random, it's more frequent and occasionally louder and more disturbing. Sometimes instead of a light clunk, it's a loud clunk and then the engine starts.

    I have a theory on this. First the problem seemed to be related to my letting up on the key to soon, like the starter gear was retracting too soon or retracting and then reengaging while the motor was still turning. I've tried to make sure that I give the key a firm turn and don't release it until the motor starts, but the problem still persists.

    My only guess is that like I said, the starter is retracting and reengaging and hitting the flywheel teeth as the motor is sort of turning over. Unless I had two dud starters, I guessing the problem is not the starter. I know others have had this issue as well and I've never had this come up on any other car, but I'm guessing there's something in the wiring or ignition switch.

    I wonder if the switch is just losing power intermittently or maybe the contacts are dirty or something. Another thing I'm wondering is that the starter I put in is the heavier duty high amp starter and it looks indentical to the one I took out, so I assume it was the higher amp as well. I wonder if the factory wiring that might be designed for the lower amp starter, might be putting too much resistence and causing the starter to hesitate mid through the starting cycle.

    Anyone have a theory or ideas on this one? Seems to be a fairly common issue on the LC80s. At least I've heard it mentioned here several times.
  2. IronYuppy

    IronYuppy

    Messages:
    2,001
    Location:
    Fort Apache: Victoria
    I don't know what the issue is, either, but FYI I have the same problem (two different starter motors - OEM and an aftermarket reman) with a bypassed factory ignition switch. My truck starts with a starter button, so the power is steady and not subject to any fluctuation/flaw from the factory switch. I still get the clunk. I wonder if perhaps this is a design flaw in the starter itself - maybe it is based on the 24v starter found on the HDJ81, and 12v sometimes doesn't let the gear retract in time? Just throwing that out there. I'm really stumped, actually.
  3. Brian894X4

    Brian894X4

    Messages:
    1,257
    Location:
    Oregon
    Well, that does narrow it a down a bit. I wonder what a nice fresh, bigger gauge wire from the battery to starter would do.
  4. Kenso

    Kenso

    Messages:
    180
    Location:
    Wilmington NC
    I'm having the exact symptoms you mentioned, very intermittently. Just wondering if you ever got this problem fixed on your rig, thanks in advance for any info you might have.
  5. IdahoDoug

    IdahoDoug

    Messages:
    8,782
    My 93 has done this for 10 years. About once every 4 months on startup I will get a clunk which I believe is a damaged tooth on the fly wheel. I have no idea how it happened. The sound happens during the starter teeth's engagement. My starter and wiring are in top notch condition and the starter has had its contacts replaced by me over the years with no change to this random event. Next time I change the contacts I'm going to have someone rotate the engine by hand until I find the tooth and see if I can file it a bit.

    The 97 has never done this.

    DougM
  6. Twiggles

    Twiggles

    Messages:
    67
    Mine does this too. This is like a support group for clunky starter guys hahaha. im interested in seeing what other have to say about this issue. It was very disturbing the first couple of times this happened!
  7. illcruiser

    illcruiser

    Messages:
    119
    I have the same problem only mine started after I replaced the contacts and solenoid, maybe is just a coincidence I don’t know now that I read these posts. I don’t happen in any particular pattern or condition. As far as the switch or wiring theory I can say that my remote start bypasses the ign. switch and still happens from time to time. I think it definitely has something to do with the solenoid retracting or skipping gears it almost sounds like a grinding noise and clunk but after I let go of the switch and try again it starts up fine. Just wanted to share my experience hope some one can help us find the source of the problem.
  8. jrjarrett76

    jrjarrett76

    Messages:
    62
    Location:
    Avon, MN
    Starter Clunk 91 3FE

    I have the exact same issue. It bugs the hell out of me when it happens because it sounds like metal on metal. I've changed starter contacts, cap, rotor, battery, and next on my list is to try to add heavier guage wiring.

    If anyone has the fix for this please post ASAP.

    JRJ...
  9. Pin_Head

    Pin_Head

    Messages:
    11,614
    Location:
    OC, CA
    X2 Likely at bad tooth or a few teeth on the ring gear of the flex plate. Replacing the flex plate is the solution.
  10. tonyr0d

    tonyr0d

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I had the same problem, it went away after I replaced the battery with a Sears platinum unit. The old battery I had was working fine and the charge seemed okay but I did once drain the old battery accidentally when my wife didn't close her door all the way, this may have screwed something up in the battery as that's when the clunking started. Don't know if this helps anyone but it might be something to consider.
  11. Twiggles

    Twiggles

    Messages:
    67
    Looks like 1994s and 1995s...does anyone know of any differences in our starting system vs. 1996-1997 that could account for this?

  12. Twiggles

    Twiggles

    Messages:
    67
    Rebuilt the starter over break and the issue is happening more often than before...any ideas? Can the clutch in the starter be replaced? It seems like maybe the starter is beginning to engage then is kicking out. (just a thought...maybe the new contacts and plunger are putting more stress on that clutch causing the frequency of failure to increase...) Im at a loss here...it sounds terrible though and its pretty embarrasing when it happens in a parking lot...
  13. kybishop

    kybishop

    Messages:
    627
    Location:
    Frankfort, Kentucky
    I just purchased 'Twiggles' 94 FZJ 80 and it was having something similar happen. It finally has done it for me a few times.

    The battery is 4 years old and I just replaced with NAPA's best. I have good luck with NAPA batteries and we will see if this quick fix takes care of it. If not...

    "X2 Likely at bad tooth or a few teeth on the ring gear of the flex plate. Replacing the flex plate is the solution. "

    I will look at the possibility of it being the flex plate.
  14. jasonb75

    jasonb75

    Messages:
    47
    Location:
    Pensacola, FL
    This may not be related a all, but on my 91 I had a clunk right after the engine started, and it was random. I did find the problem, a broken hanger on the exhaust. When the engine fired, the slight shake of the motor upon initial start made the exhaust hit the heat shield. Hope that was some help.

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