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My car has had an intermittent starting problem with moisture since the beginning of this year. When it rains, it's either very difficult to start or it won't start at all. I was planning on figuring this issue out over the winter (This isn't the current issue I'm trying to resolve).

One morning, it rained fairly bad. I tried to start it and it would not start. After I let off the key, the car would continue to run. The mistake I made, was that one of those times, I tried to immediately start it again while it was continuing to run. The starter sounded worn out after that.

At the time I thought I had messed up the starter, I was okay with this since I was going to rebuild it come winter time anyway. I was leaving the gym one day and came to an intersection, turned the wheel and began to make a turn. I heard a very loud clunk and the car started a roaring type sound that got worse the higher the RPMs got.

Does this sound like a starter or flexplate issue? The sound is present when starting and driving. I can get a video, it's pretty horrifying sounding. Car doesn't seem to have any present issues starting under normal conditions. (Except the sound)

EDIT: Car is an automatic, updated flywheel to flexplate


UPDATE: I went to go make a video today, however the roaring sound did not occur! The starter made the sound you'd expect to hear from a dying starter, but then a second later, it started, with no roaring sound at all! I'm dropping the starter tomorrow and taking it into a speciality shop for it to be tested!

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2 Answers

Doesn't sound like a flex plate or starter issue based on your description. A video would help to identify the sound. Does anything make the sound better or worse? Does it do it all the time? From under the hood where does it sound like the sound is coming from? You can use a mechanical stethoscope or a long screwdriver to find the location of the noise.

To use the screwdriver method take a long screwdriver and touch it to different parts of the engine while putting you ear against the handle end of the screwdriver. Be careful not to get the screwdriver caught in any moving parts.

Another way to narrow down where the noise is coming from is to remove the belt and see if the noise goes away. (Note for other readers the water pump on this vehicle is not turned by the belt so removing the belt won't affect engine cooling. If you try this on another car where the water pump is turned by the belt don't run the engine more than about 30 seconds with the belt disconnected.)

Just FYI on the difficult to start when it rains, it's the opti-spark (the distributor) this is a known issue. You can try replacing just the cap and rotor but I haven't had good success with that. It takes the whole thing most of the time, and since replacing even the cap and rotor requires removal of the water pump I generally replace the whole thing to save the hassle of having to do the job twice.

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I'm about to update my original post with what happened today. As for the optispark, a previous mechanic replaced the 600 mile MSD unit I had on it with an OEM replacement... issue was still there after he put a new one on it. I replaced two burnt plug wires.... and the issue still occured. –  Evan Parsons Oct 23 '13 at 0:55
    
@EvanParsons 600 Mile MSD unit You had an MSD distributor? If that's correct and you replaced the Distributor with OEM make sure to check the vacuum line going to the distributor it's suppose to help with moisture. –  Larry Oct 23 '13 at 2:12
    
Are you referring to the line that goes from the distributor to the intake elbow? –  Evan Parsons Oct 23 '13 at 11:47
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up vote 1 down vote accepted

enter image description here

What you see here is what remains of my starter. I think it's safe to say that I need a new one.

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+1 just for the OMFG factor of that picture. –  Tom W Dec 8 '13 at 22:42
    
You could only imagine my reaction when I pulled the starter, hilarious enough, the car still started with the starter in pieces like this. –  Evan Parsons Dec 9 '13 at 12:59
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