Starter free spinning under load on a 94 YJ 2.5L -
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Unread 02-10-2013, 04:18 PM   #1
Registered User
1994 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: lompoc, CA
Posts: 2
Starter free spinning under load on a 94 YJ 2.5L

OK I've tried & tested just about everything the forums can throw at me. Figured it was about time to post my own thread before I go out & get me a new starter. This starter is more like frankenstein now.

Here's the issue:
Starter started making a loud whirring noise & wouldn't engage or try to turn the engine over. Took the starter off & in the process the cable on top broke off from being so corroded (cable that goes to solenoid). Ended up trimming the sleeve back some then threw another connector on it & mounted it again. This time it wouldn't even turn over. UGH, take it down again & figured I'd take this bad boy apart & try cleaning it out. By the way careful with the solenoid, putting that back together is a pain in life (I ended up using some small nails on the spring behind the bushings to keep them back, then slid the rotating piece back in, pulled nails out with needle nose when done). Anyhow, cleaned the filthy mess in both the solenoid/starter up, re greased everything that was supposed to be greased & put it back together again. Back to square one (but with a much better connector for solenoid), same friggin whirring noise. Unmounted & checked it straight from the battery with some jumper cables. Turns out the starter is engaging, cool pops right out just fine & all that, even spins to boot. So that's the whirring noise, awesome. Then why the hell is it not turning the fly wheel?

So I did all the checks people could come up with on here.
-Checked the battery (12+ volts, brand new blue top optima) - good
-Checked the relay voltages & even tried the jumper from pin 30/87 - same whirring noise & same voltage, k good.
-Checked voltage at starter - 12+ volts, k good. Also tried the jumper cables trick from battery to starter, same whirring noise.
-Attempt to jump battery from another car & recheck voltages/jumpers - voltage checks out in all locations again, same whirring noise from all test spots (key, relay, starter jump)
- Beat starter like a red headed step child w/ hammer - no apparent effect, still does not engage.
- Bring starter to Napa, autozone, kragen - all places tested starter & it checked out good on the machine. However, if you press your finger to the spinning part that comes out it stops spinning but stays out until power removed.
- oh ya also checked all the gears & flywheel (internally/externally) - no missing teeth or worn down edges.

Any ideas? Is there something I'm missing here to get that gear to not free spin?

1994 Wrangler YJ, 2.5L 4 cyl, 4.88 gearing, Detroit locker (R), 275/75R18, Procomp 3.5" lift, Ubolt yoke upgrade (F/R), Flowmaster, K&N air filter, Mean Green Alternator, Optima Blue top, Livewires distributor/cables, Screamin demon ignition coil, Relay switchs for headlights/offroad lights upgrade,Lexan windows, Brown dog motor mounts, flex fan

Last edited by Foozlesnorf; 02-10-2013 at 05:02 PM..
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Unread 02-10-2013, 10:10 PM   #2
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1994 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Monroe, Mi
Posts: 386
If the gear will stop with your finger on it, something is broken internally.

If you we're local, I'd sell you the old starter off my 2.5 cheap. Did a 4.0 some time ago and it's been sitting in the corner collecting dust.
1994 Wrangler...4.0 AW4 swapped, sye'd, 5.5" lift and 33's
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Unread 02-11-2013, 10:03 AM   #3
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1989 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Posts: 16,620
Bad starter for sure. Replace it.
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Unread 02-11-2013, 07:56 PM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Posts: 57
Hello, first post, i saw this a decided i should say something.

First the exact process of how electricity starts a car. As you turn the key the solenoid activates the respective windings. In a lot of cases faulty winds can cause a properly functioning solenoid to appear useless. For we all know that an 'open' or break in the wiring woudl cause the same factors as a non functions solenoid Most starters have two types of winding pull - in and hold - in windings. Both sets of winding surround the armature which when powered is what turns the ring gear against the flywheel starting a car.

The pull-in windings are energized before the hold-in windings. The pull-in windings are responible for the extending the armature/ring gear so it engages the flywheel. The hold-in winding are responible for keeping the armature extended and meshing with the flywheel.

I would say just from your post I would check for resistance with an ohmeter in the individual windings, as a few damaged winding ends can really lower current/amperage which is necessary for cranking.

If this is your DD, i suggest you bite a bullet and buy a new starter and play with it on your bench later.

Mind you if your like me and like to tinker and dont rely on this vehicle as a primary then I would also look around in your local area for an shop which has a tool called a "growler" which will confirm or deny the condition of the windings on the armature.

If your hard pressed on a good place to start an old shop will likely be able to direct to another local shop that fits the bill, or try a good high school or college autoshop.

Hope this helps you diagnosis your issue, glad to help a fellow tinkerer.
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