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Starter. The motor spins, but is not engaging the flywheel.
 
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Could also be a broken timing belt - no engine compression for the starter to turn over. How many miles, and when was the timing belt last replaced?
 
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Could also be a broken timing belt - no engine compression for the starter to turn over. How many miles, and when was the timing belt last replaced?
This would be easy enough to check, just have someone see if the serpentine belt is spinning when the starter runs.

I don't believe this is the case though because with a broken timing belt at least one cylinder is likely to have some sort of compression and you would probably be smacking valves with the pistons (if the gas motors are interference, I believe they are)

I vote for the starter too. It's spinning but not popping out like it should.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This would be easy enough to check, just have someone see if the serpentine belt is spinning when the starter runs.

I don't believe this is the case though because with a broken timing belt at least one cylinder is likely to have some sort of compression and you would probably be smacking valves with the pistons (if the gas motors are interference, I believe they are)

I vote for the starter too. It's spinning but not popping out like it should.
It's now started and working. Here's what I did.

1. Attached jump starter thinking it was the battery. It immediately started like normal.
2. I moved the car closer to the house and put a Genius Smart (NoCo) charger on the battery, with the cold setting and let it bring the batter to full.
3. Problem seems gone.

Theory...could a weak battery due to the extreme cold we are having cause the starter too not pop in and out around the flywheel like it should?
 

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That's weird. The usual design of a GM starter is such that the contacts for the starter motor itself are activated when the solenoid engages the mechanism. So it would see unlikely that the starter motor could run if things aren't moving like they should. However, i understand this engine has a different heritage, so I'm not 100% sure how it works. We've had a few people with dying batteries, but I don't think any of them ran across that problem.
 

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My response is guess/speculation for this question but I have seen this in the past related to cold weather.
The starter gear is combined with a sprag clutch......a sprag is a one way gear.....or a one way clutch.
The purpose is so that when the engine starts, the still engaged starter pinion gear, disengages from the sprag, allowing the gear to spin faster than the starter motor shaft. This is to prevent overspeeding the armature of the motor which could cause the armature wire windings to be torn off due to centrifical (or centrifugal....memory blank) force.
The sprag is made up of several rollers that ride on the shaft and when the shaft turns, the rollers 'jam' the shaft to the starter pinion, causing it to turn. When the pinion begins to turn faster (the flywheel of the now started engine is turning it) than the shaft, the rollers release it from the pinion.....hence, a one way drive.

In the OP's case, there may be grease that has migrated into the sprag housing, holding the rollers in a 'released' position.
So, even though the solenoid has engaged the starter to the flywheel and motor power has been applied, the motor just spins without engaging the pinion gear.

Multiple attemps eventually warm the starter and the slightly greasy rollers free up and engage the pinion.....the problem majically disappears.

In my era, this type of description would likely having me replacing the starter drive if the starter was young enough with a fair chance of replacing the brushes in conjuntion.
Since starter repair parts are no longer marketed (except to formal rebuilders) this vehicle would get its starter replaced since we know there is no way to repair the unit, and the problem will likely recur.

Hows that for a long winded description of what might be the OP's concern? First thing on a Sunday morning no less.

Rob
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My response is guess/speculation for this question but I have seen this in the past related to cold weather.
The starter gear is combined with a sprag clutch......a sprag is a one way gear.....or a one way clutch.
The purpose is so that when the engine starts, the still engaged starter pinion gear, disengages from the sprag, allowing the gear to spin faster than the starter motor shaft. This is to prevent overspeeding the armature of the motor which could cause the armature wire windings to be torn off due to centrifical (or centrifugal....memory blank) force.
The sprag is made up of several rollers that ride on the shaft and when the shaft turns, the rollers 'jam' the shaft to the starter pinion, causing it to turn. When the pinion begins to turn faster (the flywheel of the now started engine is turning it) than the shaft, the rollers release it from the pinion.....hence, a one way drive.

In the OP's case, there may be grease that has migrated into the sprag housing, holding the rollers in a 'released' position.
So, even though the solenoid has engaged the starter to the flywheel and motor power has been applied, the motor just spins without engaging the pinion gear.

Multiple attemps eventually warm the starter and the slightly greasy rollers free up and engage the pinion.....the problem majically disappears.

In my era, this type of description would likely having me replacing the starter drive if the starter was young enough with a fair chance of replacing the brushes in conjuntion.
Since starter repair parts are no longer marketed (except to formal rebuilders) this vehicle would get its starter replaced since we know there is no way to repair the unit, and the problem will likely recur.

Hows that for a long winded description of what might be the OP's concern? First thing on a Sunday morning no less.

Rob
Robby, that was beautiful for a Sunday morning. I was about to just replace the starter, but a little voice told me it could be something else.

With your mention of the sprag housing and rollers holding in a release position and another item worth of note that I didn't think to mention.

The dealer I purchased the car from cleaned the inside of the engine compartment. To make the engine look new. This car is used with 60K miles on it (stick shift). There's places in the engine compartment with a power washer symbol and a circle and cross through it saying not to spray this. Like the fuse box and the battery. They sprayed cleaner all over the engine. I mean doused the entire engine and compartment and didn't clean it all out.

I realize this is all theory and guess work but that cleaner is a bit sticky in the cold.
 

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So, even though the solenoid has engaged the starter to the flywheel and motor power has been applied, the motor just spins without engaging the pinion gear.
That makes sense! Thanks. Learned something new.

I agree this is likely to return at some point.
 

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Robby, that was beautiful for a Sunday morning. I was about to just replace the starter, but a little voice told me it could be something else.

With your mention of the sprag housing and rollers holding in a release position and another item worth of note that I didn't think to mention.

The dealer I purchased the car from cleaned the inside of the engine compartment. To make the engine look new. This car is used with 60K miles on it (stick shift). There's places in the engine compartment with a power washer symbol and a circle and cross through it saying not to spray this. Like the fuse box and the battery. They sprayed cleaner all over the engine. I mean doused the entire engine and compartment and didn't clean it all out.

I realize this is all theory and guess work but that cleaner is a bit sticky in the cold.
A bad engine cleaning job can wreak all kinds of havoc. I think you're onto something there.
 

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A bad engine cleaning job can wreak all kinds of havoc. I think you're onto something there.
Very true. Plus some cleaners contain a chemical that can wreak havoc with the electrical. The GM engine cleaner very specifically does not have chemical.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The problem came back. I've since replaced the starter and the problem has not returned. Once the starter was out there was obvious visible damage to the gear teeth. Putting closure to this, I hope.
 

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I would've said bad bendix, but I know nothing about this starter. It is in theory possible for the starter to spin but not have enough juice to engage, but here I go pretending to be a mechanic again...:idiot:
 
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