Electrical Can't find issue with starter. Tried everything I can think of.


New Member
May 24, 2019
York, Pa
Hello friends,
So finishing up replacing the engine on a 98 GT with a manual trans. Just finished putting everything back together aside from some of the accessories and exhaust and all that's left is to prime the engine with oil. Currently, I'm having a hell of a time with the starter. All it wants to do is click when the key is turned. It engages with the flywheel just fine and is definitely getting power but won't turn. I've bought a remanufactured starter since the old one was on its way out anyways and the bolts are a PITA to get to so the starter itself most likely isn't at fault. I've also charged the battery, cleaned the terminals, and made sure that power was getting to the starter (12.74v to the starter with multimeter). The mounting surface on the trans has been sanded down just incase so it should be getting a good ground. I've rotated the new engine manually with the spark plugs removed and there's no binding or difficulties turning from the crankshaft. The starter stays engaged with the flywheel until the engine is turned manually so I know the clicking isn't coming from the starter engaging with the flywheel. At one point the starter did work just fine and would rotate the engine with ease; At this point all I did was disconnect the battery, remove the spark plugs, and disable the fuel system to prepare to prime the engine with oil. Then it went to simply clicking and doing nothing more. There are currently only two wires connected to the starter. A red power wire, and a smaller black wire which I believe is the signal wire. I know this isn't a wiring issue either as I never disconnected these wires at any point. There are two other wires nearby which I don't recall disconnecting; A red wire and a white and pink striped wire but I think these go to the alternator. There doesn't seem to be any information online about the starter wiring except for one in my manual which doesn't give any helpful information. At one point I decided to put the old starter back in hopes that it would somehow fix the problem and the starter didn't engage with the flywheel but instead only spun at what seemed like a very low speed. If it's spinning slowly or isn't able to spin fast or with enough force, then it must be a power issue; Unfortunately I'm not sure where the power issue could lay as I've got a good battery, with wires that seem to be in good condition, and a good connection that's able to bring 12.74v on a multimeter.

Here are some videos of the starter:

Starter click from inside:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e65vqugHimM

Starter click from outside:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krR2IrvFJPI

Starter spinning without engaging with flywheel:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwFD80tK3Uc

Also just so it's out there, I know a bit about cars, but I've mainly just been going by a manual for this project and I absolutely hate working with electrics so I'm sorry if this is a simple oversight or something done by a stupid mistake.

Any help or suggestions is appreciated. Please let me know if there's any info that would be helpful.
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In the 3rd video it can be plainly heard that the starter sounds like it's spinning too slow. The usual reason for this are:
  • not enough power
  • excessive cranking effort
  • bad starter
Since you said that the motor can be barred over by hand we will assume that excessive effort is not the cause.

I know you said that you hate electrical. Here's some information on some tests that if performed will positively answer the question about how much voltage the starter is actually getting.

Howto perform charging system voltage drop test

But before we get started (like that pun?), did you remember to reconnect the ground strap that runs from the left hand motor mount to the frame rail? This grounding strap is frequently forgotten after a motor swap. Are you absolutely CERTAIN that the battery negative terminal isn't split?

The idea here is to understand the concept of the of the voltage drop tests. Many people won't do the test because they don't understand it. After all how can it be right to put the meter on the same side (negative to negative or positive to positive). I can promise you that if done correctly this test can systematically prove if there is a high voltage drop and to narrow down exactly WHERE it is.

Set your VOM to the lowest DC volts scale. Put one lead of the VOM on battery positive. Put the other lead on the main starter terminal. Attempt to crank. What is the voltage drop reading? This should be a very low number. Anything about 0.250 volts needs to be investigated.

Repeat the same test for the ground. One lead on battery negative. The other lead on the starter's case. Attempt to crank the motor. What is the voltage drop reading? Again anything above 0.250 volt needs to be investigated. A quick ground test could be done to the alternator's case. This will give a quick test of the main motor to battery ground path without having to get under the car.

If you hate electrical to the point where you won't do the test then it down to reviewing (again) every electrical connection in the starting system.
  • Battery terminals. are they clean and tight? Double check the battery negative as it's bad about splitting.
  • grounds around the radiator core support?
  • cables. any internal corrosion?
  • terminal eyelets? Are they clean and tight? Bright shinny metal?
  • battery to motor ground? Is the eyelet clean? Is the metal bright and shinny? Is it tight?
If you still want to measure voltage instead of voltage drop, then perform the voltage measurement AT the starter (not just at the battery). Why? Because if the battery is good but there's a weak connection downstream the problem will not show itself at the battery with a voltage measurement.

Finally there are some "by pass" tests to try. Use a jumper cable to go from battery negative to a good spot on the motor. Make sure to get a good "bite" on the metal. Does this make any difference? Trying the jumper cable bypass test is more difficult for the positive lead due to tight quarters.
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It sounds like you got a bad contact/ battery or you got a bad starter. Also to do a drop quicker just connect the volt meeter to the battery terminals and place the meeter on your windshield facing the driver and you can see it in real time with out help from another person. Any thing less then 10v during crank charge up the battery and re test. If its above 11v i would look into a starter I had brandnew starters out if the box not work so its a common thing. Also a little tip on the top bolt of the starter. Use a swivel and get a bunch of extinctions and go at it from the front of the engine. It makes life easier.

Also in your last video there was a red wire on the bottom of the starter solenoid. Check that and make sure you got it connected. Also is the wire that is touching the case the main battery wire it should be connected third video is where ive seen this. Also Iam guessing that the tachometer is unplugged cause it should not have a reading when its not running.(video one)