Starter not engaging intermittently

SD diesels were widely available in the US in the 1981-86 Datsun/Nissan 720 pickups, and in Canada through '87 in the D21 pickup.

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ocd
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Location:Portland, OR
Starter not engaging intermittently

#1

Post by ocd » 14 years ago

every once in a while and now more often my little truck wont start -wont crank -every thing else works normally but it just wont crank until i pop the hood and give the starter a couple taps with a metal pipe and turn the key again and it starts right up.

i remember reading a post suggesting that r&r-ing(repair/replace) the starter is not easy.

what am i looking at? this is happening more and more.
-Noah

i deliver blends of biodiesel -no more!.

82 datsun 720 KC w/sd22
85 volvo 760gle sedan turbo diesel
85 peugeot 505s wagon turbo diesel & parts car
83 chevy k20 suburban silverado 6.2 n/a diesel

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asavage
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#2

Post by asavage » 14 years ago

Does it click or not click when you turn the key to START?

No click = bad connection, bad solenoid.

Click click click until you tap with something = bad starter motor (often bad brush(es)).

The upper starter bolt has poor access, and the headpipe has to come off IIRC.

Back in Aug-04, I wrote this:
=======================================================
When, six years ago, I had occasion to replace the starter on my '82 Maxima diesel, I completed the entire job without getting under the car, and using only std hand tools.

This upper starter bolt on my '82 SD22 is nuts. I don't have A/C, and I can only imagine how much more fun this job must be with that addition. I can only relate how I was able to get it back in: I used a 1/4" drive 14mm socket, and rather than a wobbly, I used a Snap-On 6" 1/4" extension with a sort of wobbly tip (the square drive is sort of diamond-shaped, and turns any 1/4" drive socket into a wobbly socket, albeit with a rather limited angularity). That worked, but just.

Nothing I have that is 3/8" drive would come close to operating back there under the manifolds and down in the well in which that upper starter mtg bolt resides.

I removed my starter, to drill the 3/8" male spade terminal that had only about 1/4" left, and to just generally clean the area, since I'd pulled the manifolds to remove a broken bolt in the head (and, while it was out, to remove the broken stud to the headpipe and install two new studs instead), and then found that the exhaust manifold was warped about .080" at No. 4 port (no kidding, it was really that bad), so with both manifolds off anyway, removing the starter to drill it's solenoid tab and attach a 4" 10ga wire and bolt it to the remainder of the tab, was the easiest way to deal with it.

Plus, I could work on the accumulated grease with a stiff parts brush and Simple Green and a garden hose. It cleaned up very well, enough that I found the broken top of the steering gearbox vent :(

With the manifolds off, it's not too bad to get to that upper starter bolt, but I took out the trans with the manifolds still installed, and reinstalled the manifolds prior to installing the trans. It ain't fun.
=======================================================

Things other people have said:
philip wrote:Actually, the alternator offers a greater potential to interfer with changing the starter. The A/C compressor is above the alternator are really not in the way ...
ozconnect wrote:When I was having trouble with starting my SD25 I took the starter out to check it on the bench. Surprise, surprise the previous owner hadn't managed to get the top bolt back at all so it was left hanging there using only the bottom bolt.
I-TINKERONDATSUNS wrote: i managed to get a 3/8" drive in ther with a wobble joint. it came lose once and had to retighten. pretty tough to gat to.
longgonesilver wrote:Glad everyone else finds that top starter bolt a cuss - I'd hate to think there was an easy way of doing it that I'd overlooked.

When we dropped the gearbox, everything went like clockwork - we'd been warned by the transmission shop of the need to swing the front diff down out of the way, and the need to push the rear extension back up into the cab before lowering - except for the top starter bolt. Uh-oh, its a different hex size to the lower, getting suspicious, then uh-oh, only partly tightened, looking bad. Finally managed a fraction of a turn at a time with a ring dropped in from the top, but it fought the whole way out as it was not the right bolt and had been forced in by some hamfisted previous owner. Why do people do these things, the difference between 1.25 and 1.5 pitch is pretty gross ! So while we had the box out, we were able to salvage the threads, and I put a reasonable lead on the replacement bolt, so fitting it again was too much of a drama. Well 20 minutes to fit one bolt is still pretty bad.... LOL
When I pulled one at the JY last spring, I remembered the trouble I'd had before, so I didn't even try to pull the starter first: I removed both manifolds instead. Because the headpipe had already been removed, removing the intake and exhaust manifolds was really fast & easy, then the starter comes out very quickly.
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

EvergreenSD
Posts:70
Joined:14 years ago
Location:Eugene, OR

#3

Post by EvergreenSD » 14 years ago

The PO of my truck obviously had the same problems. Mine lost the top bolt altogether and left me stranded in a mudhole in the country with a load of compost on the back. Fortunately I was able to jam a muddy fenceboard under the starter the get it going again. The lesson from this, do not ignore a an intermittant grinding from the starter; check the bolts. I don't remember having a particularly hard time installing the starter after my clutch job but it certainly wasn't any too easy. The starter access on the Mazda diesel was much worse.
'82 SD22 720 Kingcab with flatbed

ocd
Posts:69
Joined:14 years ago
Location:Portland, OR

#4

Post by ocd » 14 years ago

it doesn't click when i turn the key.

-and right before i took it home the clutch was replaced...

thanks guys -i'll check the upper starter bolt and the electrical connections (it once had a/c but the compressor is no longer there -i don't know where it is) :wink:
-Noah

i deliver blends of biodiesel -no more!.

82 datsun 720 KC w/sd22
85 volvo 760gle sedan turbo diesel
85 peugeot 505s wagon turbo diesel & parts car
83 chevy k20 suburban silverado 6.2 n/a diesel

snowboda720
Posts:4
Joined:14 years ago
Location:Antioch, California

#5

Post by snowboda720 » 14 years ago

Do you still have the original ignition lock & key? If you have an aftermarket universal, in the dash like mine, (thanks to some teens in Sacramento, CA) I had to change it out three times before finding one that worked (and still does).
My starter bolts came out as well ( I finally found a use for my tire iron) used it to wedge the starter back in to turn the motor and pulled it back out so I knew it wouldn't fall out on the way home.

The journeys we all have with our Nissans (Datsuns) are truely AMAZING

ocd
Posts:69
Joined:14 years ago
Location:Portland, OR

#6

Post by ocd » 14 years ago

so i know its been a while -but what i did was check the bolt and since it seemed nice and tight i proceded to cleaning the electrical connections which were filthy -nice and close to the road draft tube - i felt better about it and it still started after i put things back together but shortly after that i started putting the details together -the tranny sounds and i stopped at a transmission specialist to get an estimate for a tranny rebuild (he listened to the gear clatter when clutch engaged/disengaged and figured at least three bearings just for that) and decided to park it till i had an extra thousand for the job rather than drive it till the gears are totally chewed up and it cost some more for a donor. fourtunately i had a peugeot turbo diesel that i was able to get running for my daily driver for a couple weeks and then it started leaking from the pump after i fixed all the line leakes etc. so i started driving the truck again for a couple days till i could get my volvo back from a friend and it(the truck) didn't start one cold morning. it turned over once and then tried - it sounded like the solonoid engaged but the starter didn't have enough juice to spin the flexplate.

these diesels are the broom that will sweep my car karma clean :x.
i have to keep three around just to keep one daily driver. even the volvo which is sweet to drive i got back with a full tank but a loose tank cap which spilled diesel all over the rear quarter and bumper. and the heat doesn't work nor the turn signals...
-Noah

i deliver blends of biodiesel -no more!.

82 datsun 720 KC w/sd22
85 volvo 760gle sedan turbo diesel
85 peugeot 505s wagon turbo diesel & parts car
83 chevy k20 suburban silverado 6.2 n/a diesel

ocd
Posts:69
Joined:14 years ago
Location:Portland, OR

#7

Post by ocd » 13 years ago

has anyone rebuilt one of these starters?

are there parts available for the rebuild?
-Noah

i deliver blends of biodiesel -no more!.

82 datsun 720 KC w/sd22
85 volvo 760gle sedan turbo diesel
85 peugeot 505s wagon turbo diesel & parts car
83 chevy k20 suburban silverado 6.2 n/a diesel

ocd
Posts:69
Joined:14 years ago
Location:Portland, OR

#8

Post by ocd » 13 years ago

i checked at startmart and they quoted me $54.95 for rebuilding the starter and $29.95 for the solonoid and $7.50 for shop supplies if i brought it in.

what do you guys think? what would it cost to buy a new one?
-Noah

i deliver blends of biodiesel -no more!.

82 datsun 720 KC w/sd22
85 volvo 760gle sedan turbo diesel
85 peugeot 505s wagon turbo diesel & parts car
83 chevy k20 suburban silverado 6.2 n/a diesel

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philip
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Location:Southern California, USA

#9

Post by philip » 13 years ago

Too cheap. At that price, you are getting a "clean and replace only as necessary" overhaul. I would disassemble such an overhaul and check for new parts before installing. Warranty?

NEW ... these little starters are $$$$.
-Philip
Passed 08May2008
My friend, you are missed . . .

1982 Datsun 720KC SD-22

"Im slow and I'm ahead of you"

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asavage
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#10

Post by asavage » 13 years ago

For a time, an outfit up here was selling Sylvania monitors dirt cheap. I was working for a place that did warranty repair work for everybody in the area, so I started seeing these cheap Sylvania monitors come across my bench.

They had an excellent warranty period: two years. Trouble is, most of the units had to use that warranty at least twice!

And they were mostly, "put it in a box and ship it to us for a warranty repair" kind of deal. Two months per.

The point of this tale is that even with a good warranty, you really don't want a starter that needs to be warrantied. They are a robust starter. If properly overhauled, you won't have to touch it again.
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

ocd
Posts:69
Joined:14 years ago
Location:Portland, OR

#11

Post by ocd » 13 years ago

that was an over the counter price -just bringing them the starter and solonoid.

what about buying a kit and rebuilding it myself?

parts availablility?

difficulty level?

special tools?
-Noah

i deliver blends of biodiesel -no more!.

82 datsun 720 KC w/sd22
85 volvo 760gle sedan turbo diesel
85 peugeot 505s wagon turbo diesel & parts car
83 chevy k20 suburban silverado 6.2 n/a diesel

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philip
Posts:1494
Joined:15 years ago
Location:Southern California, USA

#12

Post by philip » 13 years ago

A "respectable" rebuild is more than just installing a brush kit. The commutator must be chucked up in a lathe and turned true again. All that arcing at the brushes takes a toll. Then there are armature support bushings that should be replaced. What if you find a segment of the armature or field winding that are shorted or grounded? Maybe the Bendix drive clutch slips or is chewed? More new / $$ parts. And, a DIY'r job has NO warranty.

So unless you are replacing the brushes prophylactically and starter removal is easy, do the job right the first time.
-Philip
Passed 08May2008
My friend, you are missed . . .

1982 Datsun 720KC SD-22

"Im slow and I'm ahead of you"

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asavage
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#13

Post by asavage » 13 years ago

ocd wrote:has anyone rebuilt one of these starters?
I've never had one open.
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

cseger1
Posts:116
Joined:14 years ago
Location:Houston TX

#14

Post by cseger1 » 13 years ago

Last night after a marathon engine cleanup I went to start the truck and only got CLICK. This is in a truck that has new (rebuilt) starter, alternator, battery and battery wires. All connections are good. Battery voltage is 12.5 so I put the tender on it overnight. This morning CLICK. Shorting the solenoid spade to the hi amp spade gets me nothing. I figure with all the oil on everything it must have been douched so I pull it. Indeed, lots of oil and on the bench it won't spin. So I crack it open and clean it all up. Pretty nasty commutator. Brushes look OK. Back together and it spins fine. So I put it back in. My whole day is gone, its now 4:00. So before putting all the stuff that lives above it I test it from the cockpit. Turns over fine the three times I twisted the key. YAY! I get the compressor back on the air filter hose....... Turn the key CLICK. I hate this truck so much right now.
Christian
1981 720 SD22

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philip
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#15

Post by philip » 13 years ago

cseger1 wrote:SNIP- This is in a truck that has new (rebuilt) starter,... -SNIP- Shorting the solenoid spade to the hi amp spade gets me nothing. -SNIP- So I crack it open and clean it all up. Pretty nasty commutator. Brushes look OK. Back together and it spins fine. -SNIP- Turn the key CLICK. I hate this truck so much right now.
Good time to walk away and clear your mind.

Scroll down to the solenoid photos. Starter basics.

Often overlooked source of flakey starter operation. System ground.
Last edited by philip 13 years ago, edited 3 times in total.
-Philip
Passed 08May2008
My friend, you are missed . . .

1982 Datsun 720KC SD-22

"Im slow and I'm ahead of you"

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