Lotus Elan

battery charged , wont start, just a click sound in dash?

PostPost by: Oasis1 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 1:15 am

I have a 1972 elan FHC, the battery is fully charged. Turn the key and I get a click from behind the dash. Have lights, radio etc etc. Just cant engage starter. I did turn on headlights and when I try to start the lights go slightly dim so electric is getting there. Any suggestions or ideas? Hate the thought of towing this car, Jim
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 1:42 am

The click is the solenoid for the starter engaging. The lights going dim probably indicates a bad high resistance connection that is causing voltage drop when the starter tries to work. Check the battery connections and the main earth connection to the chassis on the boot floor as these are the usual culprits.

If that does not fix it try a good battery connected via jumper leads to the battery side of the solenoid and the engine earth and try starting the car as that will confirm that the solenoid and starter are working and once thats done you can work to find where the fault in the power supply is.

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PostPost by: Elanconvert » Sat Jul 09, 2016 9:56 am

rohan is right....
my method of eliminating fault.....
jump leads, one to a good earth other in turn to starter motor, starter terminal of solenoid, battery terminal of solenoid, then positive battery terminal.......[beware of sparks!]
is still a problem go through all earth connections......

:D fred :D
'Never give up!....unless it's hopeless.....'

1970 S4 dhc big valve
1973 Ginetta G15
1967 Ginetta G4 [sadly now sold]
1959 lotus elite type 14
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PostPost by: ken ob » Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:51 am

Jim, I had exactly the same problem recently.

After spending loads of time trying to figure out which component was faulty i gave up and asked a friend who is an electrical engineer to have a look.

Turns out the battery terminals weren't tight enough.
For many years I had been using short bolts and wing nuts to make it quick and easy to disconnect the battery.
I swapped to nuts and bolts tightened with a spanner and the problem was solved.
I must be getting weak with old age.

Felt a bit of a silly billy though :oops:

Ken
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 12:39 pm

[quote="Elanconvert"]rohan is right....
......

/quote]

I wish my boss would say that more often :lol: it would save me a lot of time from proving other people who should know better wrong :roll:

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PostPost by: Oasis1 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 3:59 pm

Ok, so I ran a jumper to the ground on the solenoid and nothing changed. I then took a long rod and lightly banged or tapped on the starter from above..........bingo it started. I have started and restarted several times with no issue. I am now having a trust issue with bringing it anywhere and turning it off for fear of being stuck. I am wondering if when I washed the engine bay last week for touch up if I may have influenced this situation. Could the starter have just been wet? Any thoughts on this or similar experiences? thanks for all the help and suggestions. I have had many British cars in my lifetime with memberships in several clubs and I must say that this Lotus Elan .net site is special and the community very very helpful. This is a special little car and a special group of people who follow and support these cars. This doesnt happen everywhere. Thanks again, Jim
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PostPost by: webbslinger » Sat Jul 09, 2016 4:03 pm

This is all good advise, but your battery could still be at fault even though it seems to be fully charged. The way to tell if it's the battery or one of the problems described above is to put a volt meter across the battery terminals and see if there is a big drop in voltage when you hit the starter. Just as you could hook up 8 AAA batteries in series and measure 12 v across them yet not have enough amperage to spin your starter, the same can happen with a bettery with a bad cell. You can charge it and sometimes get a reading of 12v, but there won't be enough amperage. You may have enough amps to trip the solenoid and hear the click or sometimes a chattering sound, but not enough to spin the starter. If you don't see a big drop in voltage or rapidly fluctuating drop across the terminals when you key the starter then your problem is down stream.
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PostPost by: billwill » Sat Jul 09, 2016 4:50 pm

Oasis1 wrote:Ok, so I ran a jumper to the ground on the solenoid and nothing changed. I then took a long rod and lightly banged or tapped on the starter from above..........bingo it started. I have started and restarted several times with no issue. I am now having a trust issue with bringing it anywhere and turning it off for fear of being stuck. I am wondering if when I washed the engine bay last week for touch up if I may have influenced this situation. Could the starter have just been wet? Any thoughts on this or similar experiences? thanks for all the help and suggestions. I have had many British cars in my lifetime with memberships in several clubs and I must say that this Lotus Elan .net site is special and the community very very helpful. This is a special little car and a special group of people who follow and support these cars. This doesnt happen everywhere. Thanks again, Jim



That used to happen frequently to me with an older starter motor. I think the Bendix can stick. I cleaned & shined the dratted thing and it always worked beautifully on the bench. It seemed perfect but wasn't.

EVENTUALLY I bought a new one and that cured the problem.

Incidentally with that older starter I think the motor shaft protruded a tiny amount from the back of the motor and so a light tap with a light tack hammer on the starter motor shaft end would free up the bendix.

Sometimes you can free it by putting the car in top (?) gear & rocking it to & fro.
Bill Williams

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