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Discussion Starter #1
Good afternoon,
I bought a 1986 Alfa Spider Veloce last month. I have already done a bunch of work on it. Lately I noticed that the car has difficulties starting. It goes like this;
  • I turn the ignition key 5-6 times and nothing happens, dead silence, then
  • Suddenly car starts cranking but does not start or run. This goes for about 20 seconds. Then it starts, idles too slow, once warmed up, all is good.
I need to mention that I changed the spark plugs, air filter and Oxygen sensor just last week. The previous owner told me that the fuel tank and fuel hoses were changed 3 years ago. Battery is almost new. So, my question is;
1- Can it be the starter itself? or
2- Starter Solinoid? or
3- Ignition coil? or
4- The sensor on the clutch? or
5- the ignition switch malfunction?
or what else can it be?
I understand that changing the starter is a pain, since it is very hard to access.

I appreciate any advise.
Thank you
 

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I would begin by confirming the main ground strap between the body and engine is not only present, but also cleaned at both ends and snugly attached. This is usually found from the bottom, inside the right, front wheel. These can build up surface corrosion that seriously messes with the electrics.

Another diagnostic is to connect a volt meter to the “gang stud” where a bunch of wires are connected. It is on your left wheel well. Then, watch your voltage while cranking your starter. If it’s less than about 11V while cranking, I’d be suspicious of ground connections

Similarly, once your car is running, turn on everything electrical. Lights, fan, radio, AC, whatever you have. The voltage on the gang stud should be at least 13+ V. If it is less, install a new, heavier wire between the alternator B+ terminal and the gang stud. No need to remove the existing wire, just double it. I normally use good quality 10g wire.
 

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I turn the ignition key 5-6 times and nothing happens, dead silence...
The ignition switch is known to become problematic with age. The internal contacts become unable to carry even the small current needed to activate the starter.

Try this. Switch on the headlights. Position a mirror so you can watch them or enlist your trusted assistant .When you turn the key to 'start' note what the headlights do. If they stay at full brightness then the switch is not delivering electrons to the starter. If they go very dim - almost off - it is possible the starter/starter solenoid is faulty. (but first check all the connections in the battery to starter circuit). If the headlights go a little bit dim but not nearly off then the ignition switch is trying but is not able to pass the electrons needed to activate the starter.

Unfortunately, new ignitions switches may not be of the highest quality. Often adding a relay to the circuit will make an original switch work fine for years to come. There is info in the Spider FAQ thread. Basically, adding the relay means the ignition switch only needs to pass the very tiny current needed to trigger the relay. The relay is then easily capable of sending full battery power to the starter.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I would begin by confirming the main ground strap between the body and engine is not only present, but also cleaned at both ends and snugly attached. This is usually found from the bottom, inside the right, front wheel. These can build up surface corrosion that seriously messes with the electrics.

Another diagnostic is to connect a volt meter to the “gang stud” where a bunch of wires are connected. It is on your left wheel well. Then, watch your voltage while cranking your starter. If it’s less than about 11V while cranking, I’d be suspicious of ground connections

Similarly, once your car is running, turn on everything electrical. Lights, fan, radio, AC, whatever you have. The voltage on the gang stud should be at least 13+ V. If it is less, install a new, heavier wire between the alternator B+ terminal and the gang stud. No need to remove the existing wire, just double it. I normally use good quality 10g wire.
What and where is the "Gang Stud'?
How easy/difficult is to find the ground strap?
How difficult is to change the ignition switch?
Thank you
 

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Don is describing the junction box on the left inner fender. 3 or 4 red wires and 3 smaller green wires. It should have a black plastic cover.
1636325
1636326


The engine ground strap on the Series 3 Spiders is from a bellhousing bolt to a tab in the transmission tunnel (under the car). This photo is from underneath the car looking up:
1636327


Changing the ignition switch is a whole topic itself. See: Ignition switch replacement
 

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Go back to your battery, also, and remove the ground cable connection where it attaches to the car body. Wire brush that area clean and shiny, and the cable terminal also. Also clean the bolt threads. Then reattach the cable end and tighten the bolt. Make sure your battery posts and clamps are bright and shiny, also, free of any dullness or corrosion.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Can you post a close up photo of the fuse box, please? With the clear plastic cover removed.
I removed all the inside fuses, Cleaned the fuse box and also checked each and every single fuse for continuity, replaced the one that were imperfect.
It is a hit and miss. Some times the car starts with the first try, some times it takes a while?!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Don is describing the junction box on the left inner fender. 3 or 4 red wires and 3 smaller green wires. It should have a black plastic cover.
View attachment 1636325 View attachment 1636326

The engine ground strap on the Series 3 Spiders is from a bellhousing bolt to a tab in the transmission tunnel (under the car). This photo is from underneath the car looking up:
View attachment 1636327

Changing the ignition switch is a whole topic itself. See: Ignition switch replacement
I cleaned the Junction box inside the fender (the above right picture), I left the headlights on and started the car. The lights deemed down about 30%. As I said, it is a hit and miss. Some times it starts with the first try, some times it takes several tries?!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Don is describing the junction box on the left inner fender. 3 or 4 red wires and 3 smaller green wires. It should have a black plastic cover.
View attachment 1636325 View attachment 1636326

The engine ground strap on the Series 3 Spiders is from a bellhousing bolt to a tab in the transmission tunnel (under the car). This photo is from underneath the car looking up:
View attachment 1636327

Changing the ignition switch is a whole topic itself. See: Ignition switch replacement
I realized that the black cover on the Junction box (Showed on the first picture) is missing. Any Idea as where I can get it and what it is called? Part Number, etc?
Thank you again
 

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Very typical symptoms. Make sure you have a min. of 10.5 volts available WHILE CRANKING the starter. That is minimum voltage to signal computers to wake up. If you are sure you have adequate cranking voltage I would start to suspect the ignition switch.
 

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the cover PN 60522329
search ebay for 'alfa spider junction box', there is a complete used block with cover there for 20 bucks.....just finding the cover will be more difficult.

you could fit a starter relay btw. it's easy to do, certainly easier than fitting a new ignition switch and it 'might' help
....heck, even if it doesn't, you have fitted a starter relay which these cars do not have, and which will protect your newly fitted switch, if it comes to that.
 
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