Friday, August 1, 2008

Starter motor repair

It's been far too long since I posted to this blog. In my intro, I mentioned the ol' Ghia needed its starter motor repaired. Well, last fall I finally got around to doing that. I actually hired an assistant to help with things. First, we pulled the old starter motor off the front passenger side of the engine. That is a challenge in tight spaces. You jack up the car a bit so you can get your fat belly under the engine, then you reach up blindly, trying not to knock greasy dirt into your eyes, reaching your hands through spider webs to get your wrench on the bolt on the top of the starter. Oh, first, you should probably unhook the battery ground strap so you don't accidently zap yourself. Off come the wires to the solenoid and the ground wire to the motor. We tried to manually run the motor once we had it out of the car and it didn't work. So I bought a new starter from a place in town, exchanging the old one as a "core" which presumably gets sent back and refurbished.

We put the new starter in, hooked up the wires and tried to turn the car over. Nothing. Pull the motor out and try to run it manually. Nothing. Back to the VW parts place and I exchange the new starter for another starter - the store does the exchange no questions asked. But I do have them test the starter before I leave the store. The place is also a VW repair shop, so one of the mechanics made quick work of the test and I was happy to see a spinning motor.

Take 2, back under the Lean Green Martian Machine. Starter motor installed. Try to turn it over. Nothing! I go back to my new favorite VW parts place and buy the ignition wiring - this must be the problem if it isn't the starter this time. Yank the steering wheel off and some fiddling with the new ignition switch and we're ready for smoke test number 3. Again, nothing! So it's time to improvise. Apparently my 38 year old wiring is probably at least a contributor to my starter motor issues. We hop on over to Checker and buy some heavy gauge wire and a BF Switch. We drill a hole in the dash and mount the switch and run the wire back to the starter. We cross our fingers, insert the key in the ignition, turn it on (lights have never been a problem and they come on as usual inside the speedometer) and then while my friend is watching the engine, I press the BF switch. Ah, music to my ears! The car turns over, though since it has been many months since it last ran, it takes some time to get it to catch and run well, but eventually it does.

And the icing on the cake: It passed emissions on the first try!

Next issue: Need to replace the tires in the front - the front right tire goes flat in a day or a few and I have to pump it up before driving around.

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