Noise when cranking / starting - even after new starter

Posted by rhodes2010, Dec 25, 2010
Maintenance & Repairs - Oil choices, timing belt, setting timing, CV boot replacement, alternator servicing, fuse/relay checks, and other basic maintenance, repair and diagnosis discussions.

  1. rhodes2010

    rhodes2010 Proven Member

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    Car has loud noise when cranking engine. After it starts no noise, runs great.

    The first thought is starter and/or flywheel. It sounds a lot like metal interference.

    1996 - GSX - Manual trans. New stock style clutch and pressure plate ,
    resurfaced flywheel, less than 10,000 miles ago. Driven it quite a bit since new clutch.

    Sound started a few weeks ago, and then got worse.

    First thought was starter, went in to check that and found it loose (that's bad),
    tightened both bolts. Problem is still there.

    Pulled starter out and check with charger then battery for solenoid action and motor spin.
    Was okay, but thought it could do better. No noise from starter at all.
    Let auto parts store run a test and it passed, but we all agreed that solenoid
    was sticking a bit.... purchased a re-manufactured starter.

    With tremendous confidence installed the new starter.
    Still have loud noise when cranking, but runs great, car starts quickly.

    Thinking low battery might somehow play a role I jump started from another car during starting to add extra amps, still bad noise during start.

    I am now out of ideas and nothing in the service manuals deal with noise, all the troubleshooting is for starters that do not start.

    There does not appear to be any way to shim or alter the way the starter sits.
    You simply tighten the two bolts and nothing more to it.

    It has the typical sound of starter teeth hitting flywheel. But without being able to adjust the starter / flywheel distance I do not know what to do.

    Any ideas greatly appreciated.

    We recorded the sound with a phone-camera but I don't think the sound
    comes across on video.

    Anyone ever had this problem ?

    Some Notes: Just got under car to inspect. Studied the trans to block bolts, motor mounts, opened flywheel inspection plate as much as possible (transfer case gets in way), took good look at old starter to look for metal fragments and teeth wear.
    Nothing yet jumps out as obvious, but the flywheel teeth I can see do show the kind of early shiny wear associated with grinding.

    I am going to remove all the intake parts and battery box again and look carefully at how the new starter seats into the block.
    Hard to do with all the hoses. Car is basically all stock with AC, cruise control, etc..

    One more thing, I tried starting with clutch pressed in, and clutch out, did not change the sound at all.
    Although I keep thinking I can feel it through the floorboard, of course the starter is right behind the wall there.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2010
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  2. sniver

    sniver Proven Member

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    I've never had it happen on a dsm to me, but on a few trucks at work I've seen the flywheel get the teeth striped and the starter looked just fine. Though usually the flywheel had good and bad spots, its grind,normal,grind normal,ect...

    Pull the lower inspection cover off and look at the flywheel teeth. Alternatively you could pull the starter and check it out with a mirror or camera if you don't have a jack for some reason.

    Is it a grinding, scraping, squealing, rubbing, any better description, or try and take a better sound bit.
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  3. rhodes2010

    rhodes2010 Proven Member

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    I would eliminate Squealing, rubbing.
    The sound is very much like grinding, but scraping could be in there.
    It lasts less than a second, as the car starts quickly and there is no noise at all with key released from start position.

    Like your experience, my past times coming across this was always starter too close to flywheel. With American brand products. In those we shim starter to
    increase distance from flywheel.

    I wish I could get the inspection cover completely off.
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  4. sniver

    sniver Proven Member

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    I doubt the starters to close, unless you have the wrong parts in there, or you forgot a dowel pin on the trans. Figure out how to get a peak at that flywheel, I bet your search will end there.
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  5. rhodes2010

    rhodes2010 Proven Member

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    Got a peek at the flywheel through bottom, was able to feel the teeth through starter hole. We think it is mildly chewed.

    One theory I have is that the original starter, when it loosened, fell at an angle and chewed the flywheel teeth.
    Now the new starter is hitting the chew marks and causing a noise from the
    mildly chewed teeth on the flywheel.

    Thinking of dropping the transfer case, getting the inspection plate the rest of the way off and then cleaning each of the teeth on the flywheel.

    This way I could avoid dropping the trans.

    Of course the long answer is to drop the trans, remove flywheel and either replace or have ring gear replaced.

    Unless someone can give me some advice that avoids all this.
    I will say the new starter fires the motor so quick that the noise does not last long.
    In my dreams I would like to hope that the properly installed starter would wear away the chew marks and get more quiet over time.
    But the truth is, nothin' fixes itself.

    Okay, dropped the downpipe and the transfer case. Able to get inspection plate off and see the flywheel teeth.

    Started filing the teeth one-by-one. Will post a picture when daylight returns.

    All teeth had a shiny look to edges (peaks) , edges not sharp.
    The surface that faces the engine which should probably should always be smooth
    has raised pieces of metal one some teeth.

    I am curious to see how the sound changes once all raised flash is removed and
    the shape is returned to the opening between the teeth.
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  6. sniver

    sniver Proven Member

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    You know the right way to fix it ... Maybe its not to bad, and you can get away with filing it. Make sure its not cracked, It would sure suck to have the starter ring break and crack your bell housing, or worse.

    That one being said I would try and get away with not pull anything as I tend to hate leaving work, working on cars, to get home and work on my own stuff! :D

    Make sure the teeth on the ring have a flat on top , not a sharp point. Not sure how to explain this better. \/ <-- bad \_/ <--good but if this \_/ --- <-- is cut about here(half way) thats bad too. Maybe that'll help, maybe I just confused you more? :p
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  7. rhodes2010

    rhodes2010 Proven Member

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    No. Good answer. Was trying to remember what teeth looked like last time we
    had the flywheel out. I get it.

    Kinda funny, I made marks on the wheel with black shaprie as I counted the teeth so I have markers that tell me where I am on the wheel.

    So what I mean is as I turn the engine with a 23mm socket (3 inch extension and a ratchet) and closely watch the flywheel I can see where I started and where it ends.

    When sun rises will test. Either way will probably button it all up and go on.

    Well, get this. Removed all the spark plugs to get rid of compression while spinning and to keep from starting.

    This way I could easily rotate engine and take off all metal flash on flywheel.
    Also was able to spin engine using starter to listen carefully for any noise.

    When we turn key with spark plugs out get a very clean no grinding-noise sound.
    Just the sound of an electric starter spinning an engine.

    Was really sure we had fixed it.

    As I reassembled at each stage I kept trying the key and listening for the grinding sound. Sounded great, no grinding.

    Got plugs back in, went to start it, and grinding noise is definitely there.

    Car runs great, starts quick, so noise is nothing other than an annoyance.

    The best way to describe this sound is like you have turned the key after the engine is already running.

    If we lay under car, touching the inspection cover you can hear and feel
    the noise is flywheel.

    Not really willing to drop the transmission and replace the ring gear.
    I did consider placing two washers between starter and bell housing
    to space the starter away just a little bit, but I do not want to try this
    unless someone here says it has been done and worked before.

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