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Starting issues....bad alternator?
lordbenny - 9/6/18 at 05:35 PM

So....after having problems starting my car over the last few months (I thought it was heat-soak problem as the starter is so close to the exhaust manifold) I fitted a brand new starter. Now on starting it occasionally clicks and when it does start it seems a weak start-up.....until I charged the battery, then its fine!

Most of my journeys are just quick country lane blasts that rarely last more than an hour so with that in mind do you think the alternator just isnít charging the battery and the car is running on battery power alone?

The thing is that once home I always put the car on a trickle charge because I donít know when Iím going to use it next resulting in me having a full charged battery every time I go out in it.

I presume a Westfield can go quite a long way without an alternator especially if your not using the lights. What do you need a battery for...brake lights, indicators...thatís about it!

I am completely useless when it comes to electrics, should I get the alternator checked out? I havenít got a multi metre I making sense or am I missing something?

[Edited on 9/6/18 by lordbenny]

scudderfish - 9/6/18 at 05:40 PM

Does the alternator light on the dash come on and then go off when you start/rev the engine?

lordbenny - 9/6/18 at 05:43 PM

Yes, it goes off when you start the engine. I presume that would suggest the alternatorís ok?

lordbenny - 9/6/18 at 05:46 PM

By the way....on fitting the starter motor I took all the earth straps and battery earth to chassis and cleaned them all up. What I didnít do was replace the live battery to starter motor lead but I have no reason tho think that could be an issue.

perksy - 9/6/18 at 05:55 PM

Put a Voltmeter on the battery terminals and check what the alternator charge is

Are you using a conventional battery or a gel one ?

lordbenny - 9/6/18 at 05:58 PM

Itís conventional.....I havenít got a voltmeter.

Can an alternator just be working at half mast so to speak. Can it be charging but just poorly and enough to turn off the big red light on my dashboard on startup?

perksy - 9/6/18 at 06:04 PM

The ignition warning light doesn't mean a great deal when it comes to charging and a voltmeter (even a cheap one) will show what's going into the battery and will help rule out the alternator if its ok

If is a conventional battery it might be that it has a failing or failed cell

With your previous starting issues it might well be that the battery has had a hard time and is now saying its had enough

lordbenny - 9/6/18 at 06:07 PM

The battery has only done approx 1000 Miles!

I think my question has been answered in that I canít do anything until the alternator has been checked.

Do you think my starting issues could be due to the circumstances in my original post?

gremlin1234 - 9/6/18 at 06:09 PM

yes, alternators can fail, and still partially work. (diode fail)
though battery failure is more common.

one test you can do...
put the head lights on,
start the car, - they will dim as the car starts, but do they then get bright, (and hopefully brighter than before the engine was running)?

lordbenny - 9/6/18 at 06:12 PM

To be honest I see no difference between the lights being on before the car starts and after.

ian locostzx9rc2 - 9/6/18 at 06:29 PM

I would buy a cheap multimeter they can be bought for less than £10 and check the battery voltage with the car not running should be at least 12.3 volts when the cars running you should see 13.5 to 14.5 volts if thatís ok then a good battery test is without the engine running put the headlights on and see how the voltage drops if it drops off below 12 volts then towards 11 volts within 1/2 mins it could be a weak battery then turn headlamps off and see if the voltage recovers hope this helps

lordbenny - 9/6/18 at 06:53 PM you think the alternator not working properly could be the reason for my problem?

ian locostzx9rc2 - 9/6/18 at 09:40 PM

Could be alternator / wiring issue or battery but the tests I suggested will help diagnosis

lordbenny - 12/6/18 at 11:46 AM

So.....the alternator is fine and so is the battery and itís a brand new starter!

Iím thinking now before I get an auto electrician in (at £75 per hour!) that It would make sense to replace the live feed from the battery to the starter as itís a cheap fix.....if that is the problem. How many amps rating should the wire be...I was looking at 110 or 170?

scudderfish - 12/6/18 at 04:02 PM

How good are your earth straps?

lordbenny - 12/6/18 at 04:10 PM

Iíve got one decent one from the starter casing to the chassis that I have taken off and filed down so good contact. Iíve also got the battery to chassis earth wire which i have taken off any field the contacts so Iím sure its good too.

[Edited on 12/6/18 by lordbenny]

starterman - 12/6/18 at 06:57 PM

Take the alternator off and send it down. I'll check it over and send it right back. No charge, doesn't cost me anything to look and test.


lordbenny - 12/6/18 at 07:16 PM

Thanks for the offer Mike but I had I checked today and it and the battery are fine.

Iím sure the sarter is fine too, thanks for that

Iíve ordered a new live cable, see if that makes any difference!

02GF74 - 12/6/18 at 07:49 PM


To summarise, starter motor is sluggish after a short drive when engine is up to temperature.

If you connect second battery I. E. Jumptstart, will engine turn over.

When engine bay has cooled down, is starter motor sluggish?

Buy a dvm then measure bettery voltage when fully charged and when trying to start when hot, both cases engi e not running.

Lets take it step by step before replacing random parts.
Incidentally has it always done this, if not, what was changed.

[Edited on 12/6/18 by 02GF74]

lordbenny - 12/6/18 at 07:59 PM

Coulsdon, Surrey

At the moment even when the battery is fully charged it doesnít start first time....usually but not always. I either get a click from the solenoid or sometimes nothing at all. The engine does fire up with a jump start which suggest that power just isnít getting to the starter doesnít it? The battery has been check as has the alternator by a pro and theyíre fine. Iíve cleaned up all the earth straps.

Itís done this for a while which is why I changed the starter motor...itís just doing it again with the new one which suggests itís not the starter. Could it be the live cable not getting the power to the starter? Iíve ordered a new one anyway.

02GF74 - 12/6/18 at 08:24 PM

Too far from me to take a look.
What battery is it. (ah rating)

What condition is the solenoid.
Have you tried bypassing the solenoid with a jump lead.

lordbenny - 12/6/18 at 08:29 PM

Itís a big meaty, nearly new, Mondeo spec battery, more than man enough.

the solenoid is brand new, like the motor.

Bypassing the solenoid? No

02GF74 - 12/6/18 at 08:38 PM

Do you have a set of jump leads.
Connect one end to bettery negative and other end to earth e.G. Gearbox casing near the starter.

Other lead first to starter positive and then the other end on battery positive, expect a big spark when initial contact is made.

If engine turns over you can rule out starter and battery.

Yhow is battery earth connected starter motor?

starterman - 13/6/18 at 07:08 AM

That's not correct. You won't be engaging the solenoid. the starter will spin but the bendix won't be engaged in the ring gear.

DJT - 13/6/18 at 02:38 PM

I had similar issues with mine. Even though starter was remanufactured when I took it apart there was hardly any copper left on commutator. I binned it and bought a new geared one.

lordbenny - 13/6/18 at 03:10 PM

Iím pretty sure the starter is fine, when it does get power to it it fires up without any issues.

02GF74 - 13/6/18 at 05:17 PM

Originally posted by starterman
That's not correct. You won't be engaging the solenoid. the starter will spin but the bendix won't be engaged in the ring gear.

Yeah maybe, I assumed the motor was inertia type, solenoid I referred to was the one that switches power to the starter.

Do we know what engine it is

lordbenny - 13/6/18 at 05:41 PM

Going to see if the live cable sorts it out....if not Iím paying an auto electrician £130 who said heíll guarantee heíll sort it!

rusty nuts - 14/6/18 at 09:41 PM

Try disconnecting the positive feed to the ignition coil, if the starter then cranks the engine over faster then it may have too much ignition advance

lordbenny - 15/6/18 at 08:18 AM

Fitted super new live cable better.

Pressed starter button a few times and....nothing except slight dimming of ignition light.

Then the classic solenoid click....

Then it fired up but definitely only a half hearted turn over.

Turned it off and nothing again!

Calling auto electrician, he reckons that I shouldnít be spending any more money on it and that he will sort it in his minimum 90 minute and £130 fee.

rusty nuts - 15/6/18 at 01:11 PM

Voltage drop somewhere between the battery positive and the starter solonoid , dodgy ignition switch, wiring or connectors? Try checking the voltage at the solonoid feed from the starter switch when it is operated or by bridging from the main battery lead.

lordbenny - 21/6/18 at 10:05 AM


Bit the bullet and got an auto electrician round.....diagnosed within 10 minutes, sorted within the hour.

Had a voltage drop between starter button and solenoid so he fitted a relay between the two and.....hey presto!

Ok, so it cost me a few quid but I donít think Iíve ever been happier spending money on a pro to sort out a problem I donít think Iíd ever have been able to to it myself, he also put in a beefier independent fuse box for my electric fan (the old/small one was melting the plastic on the fuse after a long run).

The auto electrician in question was found on Checkatrade, he loves cars (has a mint Porsche 930 that heís just finished restoring) and specialises in problem classics. Heís based in Crawley, Sussex/Surrey border...Phil Smith Auto Electrical 07766657180.

starterman - 21/6/18 at 10:25 AM

That is good news. I was sweating for a minute thinking there might have been a problem with the starter :O


lordbenny - 21/6/18 at 10:48 AM

Starter is perfect, thanks for your help Mike.

02GF74 - 21/6/18 at 10:55 AM

This demonstates the difference between being at the car compared to diagnosing from a distance with the full picture.

Anyway it is sorted, on to the next problem, lol.

Mr Whippy - 21/6/18 at 11:55 AM

glad you got it fixed but his £130 fee is still quite a bit more than the usual £10 for a half decent multi meter that could also detect that issue. Key here is to check everything no matter how insignificant

lordbenny - 21/6/18 at 12:49 PM

That maybe so but I wouldnít have been able to diagnose the problem even with a multimeter. I also wouldnít have known what type of relay to get and have been able you do it in under an hour. Sometimes itís just worthwhile getting a pro in IMO. Best money Iíve ever spent on my car!

[Edited on 21/6/18 by lordbenny]

[Edited on 21/6/18 by lordbenny]

scudderfish - 21/6/18 at 03:50 PM

Quite right. Being able to recognise your own limits can lead to a much happier experience. I really made a mess of my bonnet because of my lack of talent and ended up spending more getting it done right than if I'd gone to a professional from the beginning. I can do simple electrics, I can't do bodywork.