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When I haven't driven my '86 Spider for a few days and I turn the key, nothing happens until the third or fourth try. Then the starter turns over nicely. After the car warms up it never happens for the rest of the day no matter how often I start the car. Waddyathink?
 

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My favorite thing to do first is clean the ground cable at the battery where it connects to the body. Of course clean both battery connections. Clean the starter postive lead from the battery, and the small wire on the starter is the signal from the switch. The engine/starter ground is under the car on the starter side. Seems on Alfas especially that the ground is more important than the positive lead. A silly statement but almost true.
 

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My 86 Graduate developed a similar problem over a couple of months earlier this summer. When I would attempt to crank, I would get nothing but a click on first attempt. I would cycle key back to off and try again and it would usually start immediately. Sometimes I would have to cycle key 3 or 4 times before it would crank. This occurred increasingly as the weeks went by until it happened about half the time - this is a daily driver so I typically start the car at least 3 or 4 times per day. I suspected either faulty ignition switch or solenoid, and feedback from the BB supported those suspicions.

Before I could do anything about the problem, I took a 2-week trip and the Graduate sat idle. When I returned, I got no response at all when trying to start. Charged the battery and have had no problems or symptoms since (4 weeks).

Not sure this means I still don't have a lurking problem, but if it starts first time every time, I'm smiling:)
 

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Here's a quick-n-easy test to try. Position the car near a wall or garage door and turn on the headlights (the wall allows you see the how the headlights are functioning from the driver's seat). If the headlights are not at full brightness the battery needs attention. Assuming the headlights are properly bright (thus likely a good battery) turn the key to 'start'.

If the lights do not dim then power is not reaching the starter. Either a poor electrical connection or the ignition switch is faulty. If the lights go very dim but the starter does not turn the engine over then possibly the starter or solenoid is faulty or there is a poor electrical connection somewhere in the starter circuit.

If the lights did not dim first clean & tighten all electrical connections - battery & cables, ground connection (it is on the trunk floor in your '86 Spdier), the main battery cable at the starter motor, the connection at the solenoid and the ground strap from the bell housing to the body (in the transmission tunnel).

Then re-test. Once you eliminate weak battery and poor electrical connections/grounds then a faulty ignition switch becomes more likely.
 

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I concur. This is most likely the starter solenoid is sticking.

My 83 Spider did this randomly for the 10 years / 50K miles I owned it. Sometimes it still wouldn't kick on the 3rd or 4th time -- for those occasions I carried a long shank screwdriver that I would use to tap on the solenoid while a helper turned the key -- this technique always worked as a last resort.

It never left me stranded and it was never so much an inconvenience that I was ready to tackle dismantling the intake system to get down to the starter.
 

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Certainly make sure the little spade female connector is getting a good connection on the starter. This is why banging on the starter ( and sometimes soleniod ) is working. Use some dielectric grease, as well in the fixit-up process...

jeff
 

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What Eric & Jeff said. My similar experience ended up bing the ing. switch. I replaced it AND installed an ing. switch relay to protect the new switch in the future. Do a search & you'll find my post on how to do it. Good luck!
 

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A Localized Open in the Starter Can Also Cause This

Many years of experience in bad starters indicates that a localized open in the starter can also cause it to work sometimes and not at other times. If everything else checks out with power to the solenoid, try having the starter rebuilt.
 

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My 1986 did the same thing. It turned out it needed new brushes in the starter motor. It already had a new solenoid from the PO, but I tested that anyway. I got new bushings and brushes from a random auto supply store for less than $10.00.
 

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Sounds like what mine is doing as well. First thing in the morning, I might have to hold the key over before the starter "wakes up." Never happens the rest of the day. I guess it's something to look at over the winter.
 

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It could be anyone of the above suggestions. I would wait until it is very hard to start, then it will be easier to troubleshoot. Have your wife\girlfriend\friend hold the ignition switch in the start position and shock the starter with a hammer and a metal tube or long socket extension. If it then starts, you have a problem with the brushes or maybe the solenoid. If tapping does not fix the problem, short the the big terminal on the solenoid to the terminal on the starter motor that has the metal braid attached to it. That will put full battery voltage directly to the starter motor. If it does not spin the engine then you have either a bad starter motor or lousy battery connections.

If you change the starter motor, be aware that your car should have the gear reduction starter that was introduced in 86. You should be able to source a good used one for about 70 bucks from a junk yard. They go for much more on ebay. Do not be tempted to install one from an earlier year. It will work but you will probably end up with a cracked bell housing.

Ed Prytherch, (currently on vacation in Italy.)
 

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It could be anyone of the above suggestions. I would wait until it is very hard to start, then it will be easier to troubleshoot. Have your wife\girlfriend\friend hold the ignition switch in the start position and shock the starter with a hammer and a metal tube or long socket extension. If it then starts, you have a problem with the brushes or maybe the solenoid. If tapping does not fix the problem, short the the big terminal on the solenoid to the terminal on the starter motor that has the metal braid attached to it. That will put full battery voltage directly to the starter motor. If it does not spin the engine then you have either a bad starter motor or lousy battery connections.

If you change the starter motor, be aware that your car should have the gear reduction starter that was introduced in 86. You should be able to source a good used one for about 70 bucks from a junk yard. They go for much more on ebay. Do not be tempted to install one from an earlier year. It will work but you will probably end up with a cracked bell housing.

Ed Prytherch, (currently on vacation in Italy.)
Back of the starter should look like that on the pic, which one should i short to check if it spins?
My spider stopped cooperating with me about two days ago... wit the battery fully charged, im getting only maybe a half rev on crankshaft, and it sounds like battery is dying, though i`ve checked it while jumping it from my wife`s car, and with that magic "jump start" device, what is weird, yesterday when I`ve got from work and cranked car (middle of the day) it started. It seems that Alfa does not want to cooperate when it is cold... (I have another starter on order, but wanted to ask for an opinion anyway)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Starter problem

Hi Eric,
Thanks for the response but, since I posted this problem back in June, it was taken care of long ago, so long ago that I can't remember the solution, except that it wasn't the solenoid. I've also printed up the L-Tronic thread some time ago. Happy holidays!
 

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Hi Eric,
Thanks for the response but, since I posted this problem back in June, it was taken care of long ago, so long ago that I can't remember the solution, except that it wasn't the solenoid. I've also printed up the L-Tronic thread some time ago. Happy holidays!
Actually its from the end of September, less than 3 months. Welcome to my senile world where long term memories don't include anything past breakfast.
:D
 
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