Smoke, starter solenoid?

Started up car, within 30 seconds smoke was coming up from around transmission dipstick area. Smelled electrical. Shut down, couldn’t find any source.

Started up again, no smoke. Shut down.

Now it won’t start, just one big click. Battery is fine.

I have to assume starter solenoid got stuck or just shorted out? It’s only 3 years old, a rebuilt gear reduction starter. Seems kinda early to fail.

Can i remove/replace without dropping downpipe (which is necessary for original behemoth)?

Thanks for any advice.

Also, it’s probably no coincidence, but two weeks ago I dropped an 8mm 1/4" drive socket down in exactly that area. Could not find it. I wonder if it lodged next to solenoid and shorted it out?


Socket is still a possibility…

I’d jack the car, and look at the solenoid. I’ll bet that socket is your issue. When you started it the first time, it shorted something out and started the insulation melting. When you started it the second time, the insulationmelted the rest of the way, or the wire itself, or a terminal melted.

Is it the solenoid clicking, or the starrter relay?


Big click soulds like the solenoid, maybe the link from solenoid to the little motor has melted?

I will take a look tonight.

Still wondering, can i remove a smaller gear reduction starter with downpipe still attached?

Greg, sounds like a good point to go back and start from there.
You’ve done a lot of work on this car. Go back and methodically go through the last few steps you’ve taken. It will seem like a PTA job but this does not sound like a normal issue. Check it all out and reconfirm before you restart the engine.

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Greg. Seems i remember a thread years back in which someone R/R’d starter from above.?.. or else he was able to maneuver it sufficiently to get out from below without removing exhaust. Memory is dim but it caught my eye. Might be worth an archive search

Well maybe i imagined this…can’t seem to gind it in archives. All are saying removal

Took a look, hard to see any definitive culprits around solenoid. I’ll have to drop starter to get a really good look.

But even being a smaller starter, i can see downpipe must come out. Doh! At least the right downpipe is much easier than left downpipe, with LHD.

Got downpipe off so i could take a look. Hard to see, but it looks like the connection back from alternator was fried. Will pull starter tomorrow to be sure.

I remember not liking where that connection was, only like 1/2" away from engine block. I put extra rubber protection, maybe it finally wore away and created a ground.

When i install new starter, i will see if there’s a better way to clock the orientation.

What sort of gear reduction starter did you buy.? Just curios? I know the one I got needed some tweaking for the electrical feeds and mounting Also did you find the socket you lost maybe your rubber insulation did disappear, but it sounds like you’re on the right path. It’s just a pain when you’ve worked all around that area not all that long ago.

I bought the one everybody gets and I think is the only one that fits, NipponDenso (or something like that). FWIW it was remanufactured by British Starters, who have a good reputation. I think the sticker on the solenoid is just who remanufactured it. There are many.

I perhaps picked a bad place to clock it three years ago. I will spend more time looking at all possibilities so that neither positive cable hook up is too close to a possible ground. I may have been lazy last time, as it’s a lot of up and down to reclock and try again.

I have not pulled starter yet to inspect, but my bet is, the rubber insulation I put in there did fine for three years, but the constant heat maybe melted it so eventually one day, a nice ground was developed. Live and learn. It will give me a good excuse to clean up the right side exhaust pipes, and try my new OEM Transmission spring that I bought a while ago (I’m still using sagging original one)

Once I pull starter, maybe I’ll find my lost socket welded to the positive hook up?!? :wink:

Pulled starter! (Thank goodness i put anti seize on that rear 12 point bolt. Came out so easy!)

Yep, the main positive hook up got grounded, probably to the starter. Didn’t find my socket, but i found this little elbow right there where positive terminal is. I can’t remember when i dropped that?! My guess is that hole next to terminal was the grounding point with that elbow. This was about 30 seconds idling. Strangely it didn’t short with engine off and battery connected.

The terminal on starter was destroyed! New starter on order! Lol.

I’ll add, I had it clocked with positive terminal up top. Too easy for something to fall in, I think I’ll clock it so it’s on the bottom side of starter.

I’d consider bending a metal protector over the positive terminal, giving as much space as possible, then put the rubber insulation in there, maybe a piece of exhaust pipe hanger (intend to take heat) as the insulator).

If there is no place (no accessible screws) to mount the protective metal, then make metal band, with the protective hump, to put around the starter?

Actually, I’m thinking of a non metal protector between positive terminal and starter. All that exists there is a little plastic washer/spacer. The starter body is ground.

A 2"x2" piece of thick rubber, that can take heat, may do the trick. I could cut hole in middle for positive stud, and glue it to starter body.

But would that protect it from things dropped on it and landing starter post to ground?

The metal guard over it would be ground.

Kind of like electrical plugs: the ground prong is longer, so it makes contact first and breaks contact last.

Turn the receptacle over with ground on top (people have an ill-thought-out reason why they do that), as the cord hangs there and pulls on the plug, the plug pulls downward, pulling the ground prong out some. Overtime, the ground prong can break contact, let the cord and equipment is still energized … which is not good.

A grounded metal cover over the +12V starter terminal offers the same protection … in a manner of speaking.