1999 Pontiac Sunfire 2.2L Starter Issue
When attempting to start the car, the starter spins but the bendix is not actuating to meet the flexplate.
I removed the starter, and went to bench test it. When I connected the solenoid to battery, the starter would spin up, but the bendix would not kick out. I attempted to move the bendix manually and it was a bit sticky, as expected being the starter was completely soaked in mud, crud and oil from a leaky rear main.
So I disassembled the starter, dipped and dried all the parts individually and began my inspection. All of the parts are mechanically sound, and visually in great condition. The armature, brushes, windings, case, magnets, gears and teeth, etc were all in good shape. The bendix appeared to move properly in rotation along the helical gear, the fork was also like new. I then took a closer look at the solenoid and the plunger was also in good condition. Then I went for a bench test on the solenoid alone. When the circuit was closed, it would conduct across the main terminals, however the plunger did not move! From my understanding, the only way for the solenoid to conduct is for the plunger to contract, thus making contact. I went to move the plunger manually, and when depressed approximately 3/4 of the way in, the coil would pull it the rest of the way and lock it into position as expected. I opened the circuit and it sprung back into its open position. When I closed the circuit again, as before, it did not move but did conduct across the main terminals.. With the starter fully assembled minus the solenoid, I can actuate and extend the bendix manually via the fork, and it quickly snaps back into its resting position when releases, so like I said everything mechanically on the starter seems to be okay, leaving me to suspect the solenoid. I found the solenoid from a Delco reseller for $19.95, but I don't want to buy it just to find out something else is at fault..
The issue is internal to your starter if you are able to bench test it with a suitable external power source and your bendix does not extend on the armature. Also consider the cost benefit analysis of replacing the starter as an assembly. You have an 11 year old car, with i'm sure at least 100k on the odometer. Is it really beneficial to just replace the starter solenoid, rebuild an 11 year old starter and take the hours to do it, when in 45 minutes you could've driven down to the local parts house, picked up a reman starter, installed it, and be half way finished with your first beer. As to the possibility of another concern causing your starter to fail, that is unlikely. If you're really worried you could voltage drop your B+ feed on the motor circuit, ohm the wire and perform an amp draw test. Then verify the signal on the control circuit s-wire. Then you'll be good that nothing else is your problem, barring the flywheel having gnarred up teeth.
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