OK, I now have 2 trucks doing this, so i'm looking for anyone else who's had similar experiences.
my extended cab has been doing this about a year now and my new crew cab just did it to me yesterday:
I hop in, turn the key to ON, wait for the 'wait to start' light to go out, then turn the key to start and all I get is a click, no cranking at all. its hard to tell if its just the relay on the fender clicking or if the solenoid on the starter is clicking as well.
when the extended cab started doing it, I didn't think much of it other than "junk china starter" (I cheaped out and went with the DB electrical SD one, and have definitely regretted it - works great when it works, but it doesn't always work).
usually a couple bangs on the starter are enough for it to kick over on the second or third try, but I did get stuck down at my barn once late one night. came out the next morning and still nothing, so I dropped the starter out, cleaned the [slightly corroded] wire connections, put it back in and it started right up. the problem was better for a while, but has since come back. I have found that if I watch the voltmeter until the glowplugs actually go out, it'll start sometimes then, when it wouldn't initially. sucks to wait a minute or more if you're in a hurry, though. this doesn't always work though, but does tell me that the issue is the starter just barely not getting enough voltage/current/juice to it.
then, yesterday, in the new truck, (which I've personally only started about a dozen times, but with no problems before yesterday) I was trying to leave work for the inspection station and it wouldn't start - same symptoms as the other truck - click but no crank. so, I get out and short the starter relay (which I've done on the other truck to no avail as well) and I definitely just hear a click from that relay and not the starter.
thinking the starter solenoid has died on me (since I have no idea how old it is), I drop it out of the truck and test it out with jumper cables on the battery and it works fine! so, I put it back in and the truck starts right up! I mean, this is great, but WHY!?!? and how do I fix it once and for all!?!?!
now, the terminals on this starter are nice and clean and everything was tight coming off. all I can think is that the ground path for all that starting current is not sufficient. and that path goes starter to tranny/block spacer to engine block to ground cable to batteries, right? the battery connections were/are good and tight and i'm guessing (though, not sure) that the starter to engine block connections are good. that leaves just the block to ground cable connection, right?
am I missing anything? other than maybe I just have 2 junk starters?
once again, sorry for the book of a post - seems I can't not do that! anyhow, thanks for reading!
the batteries in the extended cab are just over a year old, and spin the engine very fast when it does spin. no idea on the new truck, but it holds 11.25-11.5 volts with the glow plugs on and the starter spinning, so they appear to be strong.
and it does seem like connection to me - certainly on the new truck. rapping on the starter does have some effect on the old truck, so it may well be the starter on that one. rapping on the starter on the new truck had no effect, but disconnecting/mounting and re-connecting/re-mounting did. I did pull the batter grounds off when pulling the starter, though, so that's another potentially bad connection that may have been made better during the job...
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