98 leSabre wouldn't start

imidazol97

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My 98 with 170,000 miles has had no symptoms of problems starting.

Then it wouldn't crank after getting coffee in the morning. I could hear a relay on the passenger side every time I turned the key to crank. I loosened and retightened the positive cables on the battery and the negative at the battery. I tapped on the started underneath with the light jack handle from the trunk.

Battery is new Walmart within a year. Headlights were nice and bright. All lights inside came on with key at ON. My security light hasn't worked for years. I assume the VATS went into default mode. I waited the 3 or 4 minutes and kept trying to crank. Went back several hours later. Called wrecker after 7 hours. Brought car home. Rolled it into the garage. j

Went out couple hours later to turn the key to CRANK because I thought the feel had changed--it used to have a springy feel and I noticed it was smooth now. I thought " ignition switch might be my problem.

I cycled to CRANK several times and all of a sudden it cranked and started.

It hasn't acted up since, but I haven't driven it anywhere that it has to be turned off, yet.

Started replaced about 30-40K ago with AC Delco rebuilt starter from a local authorized rebuilder. He'd mentioned oil getting into solenoids on these from oil pan drips cause trouble.

I tightened oil pan bolts then. I don't get any spots dropping on driveway from that car after I tightened the bolts. The bolts do have drops hanging but apparently they fall off while driving.

I intend to check connections of all three wires at starter and look for engine ground and loosen and tighten that.

Ignition switch?

Replace the starter? $170 typical price

Car is in W. Ohio where we do have salt. Corrosion at a terminal down under is possible. Haven't checked yet, and wish I'd checked for start voltage to solenoid before I did any key checking. Then I would know that it was getting proper engagement voltage at the starter.

What do I do?
 

dcraig1000

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the clicking that you are hearing is the starter relay which is on the realy/fuse panel behind the passenger kick panel. I would suggest taking it to autozone and having them test your starting system for free. They will be able to see the voltage at the starter/solenoid. You mentioned the engine ground and that would be a great thing to check. Follow your negative battey cable to where it bolts to the block. It has to be very tight.
 

imidazol97

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You mentioned the engine ground and that would be a great thing to check. Follow your negative battey cable to where it bolts to the block. It has to be very tight.

I'll check there tomorrow. I just find it hard to believe it's a corrosion problem because the action of the starter and the sound is so perfect every time I started and every time I start the car now. When the starter acted up 30-40K ago, there was a long period where the start just didn't hit solidly and the sound wasn't quite right.
 

Aldaron

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Next time it doesnt work you need to verify if the ig hot wire going to the solenoid is getting voltage when the key is turned. Check your ground connection going to the motor or body from the batt and make sure its tight and clean. You could also have a dead spot on the commutator in the starter where the brushes ride and only on that spot its shorting out the windings in the starter. Corroded contacts in the solenoid from arcing can cause your symptom too.
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imidazol97

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I finally got under the car and removed the air dam and checked cables at solenoid.

The small purple wire connection did tighten up some. It's supposed to be 22 lb-in. The Positive connection was tight. The other large cable is a ground cable. It seemed tight.

The ground terminal on the solenoid appears to be a strap connected to the starter--I'm trying to see the starter while it's installed in the car and it's not easy. I tried to tighten that one but it seems tight.

I couldn't get a wrench up and onto the engine ground cable from the battery. It's partly blocked by the subframe cross member. I really don't think it might be loose after 13 years. I would suspect a problem on or in the solenoid.

Next time under I'll check the starter bolts holding it to the engine. But I really don't think they would be loose.
 
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dcraig1000

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the negative wire goes directly to the engine ground. and the smaller cable should go to the ground stud at the ignition contol module.
 
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