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1970 Chevelle Malibu
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First I'll start off by saying I have SCOURED this forum trying to find someone who has had the same issue as I am having. Here is a link to my video since I don't know what the issue is called and have a hard time explaining it in point 3) https://gijoefontaine.tumblr.com%2Fpost%2F650998793700065280 If someone else can find it then let me know, but I am on who is also against the same question being asked over and over.
So I tried guys, I really did.

I have 3 questions.
  • What is this issue I'm having called?
  • How do I solve the issue?
  • What should I do about the GM warranty?


Things to note:
  • I have a 70 Chevelle Malibu 2dr hardtop.
  • Brand new crate 350 with TH350.
  • Flowmaster headers.
  • Battery located in the trunk with a manual disconnect switch approx 8in from battery terminal.
  • If anything else is relevant and needs to be known let me know.


Here is the sequence of events.
1. Around 01 Aug 2020 I drove my 70 Chevelle from Winnipeg to Vancouver (Canada) over 2 days. roughly 3500km.
Every other gas station (of which there were a lot lol) I had a starter problem. Turn the key and silence.
---- I know now that was what everyone refers to as HEAT SOAK. NOT MY CURRENT ISSUE (please keep reading lol) ----
Had I known that then I would have done things differently but I didn't so here's what happened next.

2. Around 10 Aug 2020 I went to a GM dealership and got a new GM starter installed. PART#: 12361146 (High Torque Mini-Starter). They offered me a slightly cheaper multi application aftermarket one from Lordco (like Napa Auto parts in the US) or a slightly more expensive engine specific one from GM. I went the GM purpose built one.

3. Around 20 Aug 2020 the new starter failed. By failed, this is what happened: After driving for quite some time, I turned the car off (typically a drive though) then when I tried to start the car the engine would start to turn over, then suddenly stop and the starter would make a whining noise that would progressively wine or spin faster and faster. I turned the key again and nothing would change it would just KEEP spooling up. I have a battery disconnect so I would switch the battery off which would stop the starter and it would wind down. SOMETIMES when I switched it back on it would be ok and the car would start or it spool up again and I would have to disconnect and hit the solenoid on top with a bar which seemed to fix that issue, then the car would start. Initially it would only spool up after a long drive (30+mins) when I tried to start the car again after a short stop. But got to the point that it would happen from cold. Flip of the coin it would have seemed.

4. Around 10 Sept 2020 I went back to the dealership and got the starter replaced under warranty. Making this my second new starter. Dealership stated it may have been a defect in the starter. since its from GM through GM installed by GM it didn't cost me but time.

5. Around 20 Sept 2020 the same issue happened. Exact same issue. Always after longer drives. Since it's hard to explain I took a short video (link to Tumblr at the top) since it wasn't an issue I enjoyed trying to recreate for a service shop. I went to a different dealership since I figured it was an installation issue and the previous dealership did it wrong. The service guy went to the back and got their "go to old car technician" who watched the video and immediately noticed I didn't have a heat shield. He told me that this issue often happened in Fiero's and installing a metal plate heatshield would solve the issue. He told me since the part was a GM part I had one year warranty on it and could bring it in whenever. He identified the issue as a heat issue due to the placement of the starter and where the headers are. He said its not a part but an application issue the previous service tech SHOULD have noticed.

6. Car was parked for the winter. Around 20 April 2021 I brought the car to the above dealership and they replaced the starter under warranty. Service rep emailed me stating the heat SHIELD would cost around $110CAD (attached) Making this my third starter. When I picked up the car I noticed they did NOT install a heat SHIELD as I had asked for but instead installed a heat WRAP. FYI: (These are 2 very different things.) The service guy stated a heat SHIELD wouldn't fit and they didn't have one, nor do they fabricate them, however it would accomplish the same thing. Kinda pissed off since they installed without my approval. I paid for it and went on my way. If it works then great... right?

7. Around 27 April 2021 (ya within a week) the starter did the same thing AGAIN. I emailed the service rep and told him about the issue. I asked for the starter to be replaced, yet again, and to have a heat SHIELD installed as per my request. He replied stating they would not do it and even though it was not specified on my receipt (attached) that they were declining and warranty blaming my cars "modifications from factory" which they mean headers. He stated that direction came from his service manager and not going down without a fight I asked to speak to him. Conveniently not in the office I left a voicemail and he replied via email , I replied outlining this sequence of events and how the wrap was installed without consent. He replied yesterday11 May 2021 telling me it's my fault and GM won't cover it ( email chain attached)


That brings us to today. I spent he last few days reading post after post about heat soak (I believe NOT to be the issue) and electrical/starter posts. nothing seems to sound like what I'm experiencing. Hopefully the video will help explain.

So again, why am I here?

I have 3 questions.
  • What is this issue I'm having called?
  • How do I solve the issue?
  • What should/can I do about the GM warranty?

Thanks to all who read and those who can help!
If I missed ANYTHING please let me know
 

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#1 problem is taking it to a dealership... i’d never let an hourly toad at a dealership touch my classic car.

Exactly how is your starter wired? What size gauge cable are you using. What are you using as a distribution point under the hood since you have a rear mount battery? How is your car grounded? What size wiring on the power and grounds setup on the car?

Heat could be an issue... but most old cars that i build or come thru the shop dont have a heat shield and they are just fine.

Check your flexplate as lucifer stated.

Also i would ditch the stock gm unit and go with a high torque mini starter. There are many benefits to these and most are clockable so you can clock how the starter sits and get the solenoid farther away from either the engine or the headers.
 

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I would also say check your flex plate, I had a 1976 cutlass that had the same problem. Changed out starter, went through the elec system and come to find out there was one tooth missing on the flex plate. So when the plate landed in the starter tooth position it would not start. Changed the flex plat, All good👍🏻
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I would also say check your flex plate, I had a 1976 cutlass that had the same problem. Changed out starter, went through the elec system and come to find out there was one tooth missing on the flex plate. So when the plate landed in the starter tooth position it would not start. Changed the flex plat, All good👍🏻
Shit I hope that’s not it. It IS a brand new flex plate (July 2020) but nothing is ever perfect
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
#1 problem is taking it to a dealership... i’d never let an hourly toad at a dealership touch my classic car.

Exactly how is your starter wired? What size gauge cable are you using. What are you using as a distribution point under the hood since you have a rear mount battery? How is your car grounded? What size wiring on the power and grounds setup on the car?

Heat could be an issue... but most old cars that i build or come thru the shop dont have a heat shield and they are just fine.

Check your flexplate as lucifer stated.

Also i would ditch the stock gm unit and go with a high torque mini starter. There are many benefits to these and most are clockable so you can clock how the starter sits and get the solenoid farther away from either the engine or the headers.
oh I know dealership was a mistake from the get go but I had to get it something else done there to pass provincial inspection when I brought it to BC. Then the starter thing happened and I just went warranty route. Sigh.

I will go home and check the parts you asked.

I don’t think there’s a simple way to check the flex plate but I’ll get there last.

is this GM high torque mini starter not “the same” or just ditch it all together and get a different brand?
I’ve seen some posts with recommendations, is there one you’d suggest?
 

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oh I know dealership was a mistake from the get go but I had to get it something else done there to pass provincial inspection when I brought it to BC. Then the starter thing happened and I just went warranty route. Sigh.

I will go home and check the parts you asked.

I don’t think there’s a simple way to check the flex plate but I’ll get there last.

is this GM high torque mini starter not “the same” or just ditch it all together and get a different brand?
I’ve seen some posts with recommendations, is there one you’d suggest?
If it is stuck right now making that noise and not engaging, jack the car up, look at the flexplate right at the starter and see if there are missing teeth right at where the starter would be that are causing the starter to just spin. You may have to remove the inspection cover to see it. Or you could remove the starter and look inside.

Another quick check (not nearly as scientific, but very easy to try.) First, find the timing mark on the harmonic balancer. Next, rotate the engine by hand for about 1/8th turn or so. Then, try to start via the ignition and see if the starter will engage. If it does, and then suddenly starts spinning again, check if the timing mark is back where it was when you first looked. If it is, then that is an indication that there is something funky going on with the flexplate and starter at that spot.
 

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oh I know dealership was a mistake from the get go but I had to get it something else done there to pass provincial inspection when I brought it to BC. Then the starter thing happened and I just went warranty route. Sigh.

I will go home and check the parts you asked.

I don’t think there’s a simple way to check the flex plate but I’ll get there last.

is this GM high torque mini starter not “the same” or just ditch it all together and get a different brand?
I’ve seen some posts with recommendations, is there one you’d suggest?
Checking the flex plate should be simple. Jack up, mark the plate and get someone to click the starter a little each time until you get back around to your mark, use a flash light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If it is stuck right now making that noise and not engaging, jack the car up, look at the flexplate right at the starter and see if there are missing teeth right at where the starter would be that are causing the starter to just spin. You may have to remove the inspection cover to see it. Or you could remove the starter and look inside.

Another quick check (not nearly as scientific, but very easy to try.) First, find the timing mark on the harmonic balancer. Next, rotate the engine by hand for about 1/8th turn or so. Then, try to start via the ignition and see if the starter will engage. If it does, and then suddenly starts spinning again, check if the timing mark is back where it was when you first looked. If it is, then that is an indication that there is something funky going on with the flexplate and starter at that spot.
It’s never “stuck” making that noise.
It either starts no problem or it spools like that, I disconnect power, reconnect power and it starts
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Checking the flex plate should be simple. Jack up, mark the plate and get someone to click the starter a little each time until you get back around to your mark, use a flash light.
Ok I’ll try this weekend.
I’ll get gauges and such tonight.

thanks a lot everyone!
I will update with what I find
 

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#1 problem is taking it to a dealership... i’d never let an hourly toad at a dealership touch my classic car.

Exactly how is your starter wired? What size gauge cable are you using. What are you using as a distribution point under the hood since you have a rear mount battery? How is your car grounded? What size wiring on the power and grounds setup on the car?

Heat could be an issue... but most old cars that i build or come thru the shop dont have a heat shield and they are just fine.

Check your flexplate as lucifer stated.

Also i would ditch the stock gm unit and go with a high torque mini starter. There are many benefits to these and most are clockable so you can clock how the starter sits and get the solenoid farther away from either the engine or the headers.
I think at this point, a high torque mini starter is what I would try too
 

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It’s never “stuck” making that noise.
It either starts no problem or it spools like that, I disconnect power, reconnect power and it starts
Ah, ok, I must have missed that part. In that case, then I wouldn't bother with the flexplate.

If you disconnect the power and reconnect power and then it spins, that means there are teeth on the flexplate there...
 

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Ok I’ll try this weekend.
I’ll get gauges and such tonight.

thanks a lot everyone!
I will update with what I find
BTW - I know you wanted a starter shield, and they wouldn't install one because it wouldn't fit.

I've always had pretty good success with a starter blanket, especially when using a high torque mini starter (as others have recommended - I suggest that route too BTW.)


I never trust the velcro itself to stay in place long, so I also use these to go around it once it's all set and working well. Yes, you have to cut 'em off, but they are cheap...


I'm not sure what kind of wrap they installed, but from your video, I don't see one? Did it get removed?
 

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Your starter drive is not working properly to allow the starter gear to come out all the way and mesh with the flexplate.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ah, ok, I must have missed that part. In that case, then I wouldn't bother with the flexplate.

If you disconnect the power and reconnect power and then it spins, that means there are teeth on the flexplate there...
tis not the issue. DAMN! ill still check cause may as well. but seems not to be the case
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
the
BTW - I know you wanted a starter shield, and they wouldn't install one because it wouldn't fit.

I've always had pretty good success with a starter blanket, especially when using a high torque mini starter (as others have recommended - I suggest that route too BTW.)


I never trust the velcro itself to stay in place long, so I also use these to go around it once it's all set and working well. Yes, you have to cut 'em off, but they are cheap...


I'm not sure what kind of wrap they installed, but from your video, I don't see one? Did it get removed?
video is old. I have a wrap on it now and it appears to be put on well and covers everything.
 
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