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Tan
Tan, MerCruiser Certified Technician
Category: Boat
Satisfied Customers: 10621
Experience:  40 yrs. experience with complete engine repairs both inboard/outboard and MerCruiser Certified Technician.
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Starter on 1998 Volvo penta. Starter engages fine and spins

Customer Question

Starter on 1998 Volvo penta. Starter engages fine and spins when not engaged with the flywheel. Once you bolt it up all I get is a click. I am able to spin the crank freely.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Boat
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Hello. My name is Tan.

Do you have a volt meter to do some voltage tests? This could be a low voltage or a connection issue.

We need to test the voltage at the battery cable connection on the starter while cranking the engine. I know it won't crank but we need to activate the crank circuit.

Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Could I get the engine model number please?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Getting that info for you. In the mean time could you answer this? With the starter in the assembled position and looking at it from the front of the boat what side should the yellow wire be on?
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Looking at the back of the starter the yellow/red is closest to the engine block. B terminal in this diagram. http://i.imgur.com/SbZmo0h.png

We need to check voltage on the A terminal when key is in crank position.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Waiting for someone to come down to the boat to turn the key. Will just be a min.
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

No rush I will be here all afternoon.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
13 volts at the red and 6-7 at the yellow/red
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Jump from the red to the yellow/red does the starter crank?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It just clicks
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

So when you apply voltage to the yellow/red what is the voltage on the red?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Drops to just under 7
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Ok there's the problem. You have a voltage issue. Check the battery cable connections on the battery and the engine. They must be clean and tight. Check positive and negative.

The starter must have 9.5+ volts to function correctly. So when you load the circuit you are loosing voltage to the starter.

Inspect the cables for any cuts or swollen areas, check each terminal end for corrosion.

Post back with findings.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Even though I have 13+ on the red when not engaging the ignition?
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Yes. You could have 3 strands of wire with no load and it will read 13 volts but soon as you put the load of a starter on the wire the voltage goes away. Corrosion or bad connections will cause voltage loss.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The starter fires when not hooked to the engine????
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

The starter isn't the problem it is the wiring to the starter. We know the starter works. So what does that tell you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It's hooked to the wiring in the boat but just not bolted in and it fires. Are you saying it's just not enough to turn the engine?
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Correct. If there is no load on the starter it will spin all day long. The load is what causes the voltage loss. For the starter to function correctly turn the engine over it must have 9.5+ volts to turn the engine over. This has to be constant voltage.

7 volts isn't enough. If your sure all the cable are good tight and clean then the starter is the problem. A bad starter will spin with no load. This is where people are misled about starters just because it spins with no load doesn't mean it is good.

Is this a Volvo or aftermarket starter?

Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Have you checked all the battery cables? Positive and negative?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Everything is checking out.
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Ok connect the black test lead of your meter to the battery negative post. Connect the red test lead to the battery cable on the starter. Now jump the red to the yellow/red what is your voltage reading?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Not sure the brand on the starter. Bought it from Napa. Told me it was the marine.Just ran the test and it only dropped to 11v
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Ok now connect the red test lead to the battery positive post and the black test lead to the starter case. Jump from the red to the yellow/red what is your voltage reading?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Both 12.2
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When I jump the yellow and red it rolls the motor but very slowly.
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Some where you voltage readings are contradicting what your telling me. Earlier you said you had 7 volts on the red when jumping the red to yellow/red. Now your telling me it is 11 volts. Lets try this again.

Connect the black test lead to engine ground. Connect the red test lead to the battery cable connection on the starter. Now jump from the red to the yellow/red on the starter. What is the voltage reading?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Key off. Red reads 13.4v. Yellow reads 0v. Key on red reads 13.4v. When trying to start yellow reads 10.3.
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

What is the reading on the red? When you jump from the red to yellow/red?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
0v on yellow/red unless trying to start. When trying to start it was at 10.3v
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

What is the voltage reading on the red cable that connects to the starter when cranking the engine?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Goes down to just under 5v
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Again you have a voltage delivery issue to the starter. The starter must have 9.5+ continuous volts to function correctly.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. I have two brand new batteries that are hooked up to a jump box charger feeding the starter. There is only one wire feeding directly to the starter. The voltage Meyer does not drop at the battery posts when trying to start but it does drop at the starter?????
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

That will be a bad ground. Is the engine block real rusty where the starter bolts to the engine?

What's between the starter and the battery?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Engine is clean. There is a battery switch. Let me check this. Maybe something is not right there.
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

The best way to eliminate the battery switch is connect the battery 1 to the common which goes straight to the starter. Battery switches can go bad the contacts get corroded.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ran a jumper directly to the starter from the batter and does the same.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am thinking the starter is junk?
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

That is a possibility. There is allot of Chinese starters out there that are junk.

Did you run another ground cable also. The ground is as important as the positive cable.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ran jumper cables to both poss and neg.
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

That would lead you to believe the starter is the problem wouldn't it?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am going to return it tomorrow. Will let you know if it works.
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

If you still have the same issue it is possible there is something wrong with the engine or the drive. Is the oil clean in the engine? Check the drive lube.

With the spark plug out does the engine turn freely or does it seem like it is dragging?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Oil is fresh in engine and drive. Engine turns freely so not seized or hydro locked.
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Ok it's looking like starter. I think we have eliminated everything else.

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