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Old 11-28-2006, 06:53 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Central Virginia
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Starting problem 76 115 300D

I've posted once before about my 115 300D here on this forum, but here's just a tiny backstory- I bartered for the car with a 72 Ludwig drumset, and my intention is to get it running well for at least 2 or 3 more years of solid driving.

However, after I drove it back to my place (a real crawl- 15mph max uphill), it refused to turn over. I got some cranking and some smoke out the back (greyish/whitish smoke- burning oil, no?), and a couple of times I thought it was going to catch, but it never did. With the second try, I only got the click of the solenoid (and please correct me if I'm wrong- I'm a complete novice). Since the car had not been driven very much previously, I thought that replacing the battery with a fully charged new one would do it, but no luck. Over Thanksgiving, I had a friend try and jump the car. Still no start, but we did hear the starter working- it was the saddest, puniest little sound I've ever hear from a car. We were definitely pulling power from my friend's VW- his lights would slightly dim every time I cranked- but no start.

Before shelling out the cash for a new starter, I wanted to ask the experts whether it could be something else, and how I could firgure that out. I peeked at the connections to the starter and they looked ok- would it be worth getting a voltmeter and the wiring diagram if the solenoid seems to be plunging properly? Could it be a different problem entirely, like a bad alternator that's binding up, or something else preventing the engine from turning over?

I just got a digital camera, so if you need any pictures, just let me know.
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Old 11-28-2006, 08:24 AM
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Checking the voltage at the starter while the it is engaged is a good idea. that will tell you pretty quick what is going on if you can get to the connections. You want to hold the black lead to the starter case (bare metal) and the red (positive) lead to the terminal with the big battery cable. have partner turn the key and see how much you get. Should be at least 10.5 volts and more is better. If you have good voltage there, check the other big stud on the solenoid. This is the one with the short lead going into the starter. Want to see good voltage there when you turn the key to start. If good to solenoid but bad out, well ya got a bad solenoid! If you have 12+ volts at the starter with key off, but it drops way down when key turned to start, something up the line is bad. Check what the battery is doing in start position. If voltage drops off badly at battery in start, then battery is probably weak/bad. Another thought: Put the big socket on the crank bolt and try to slowly rotate the engine by hand. Should be hard, but not impossible. I had an alternator sieze up so bad the engine would not turn over on a diesel once. Just take belts loose if you come to suspect that.
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Old 11-28-2006, 09:08 AM
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Good info. Also check that you have a good ground to the engine. You can charge your battery and then use one leg of your jumper cables to actually run from the battery and then on a good clean area of the engine. The best way to test an older starter is to use an inline amp meter. You can then see how many amps the starter is using when it is cranking.
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Old 11-28-2006, 09:35 AM
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Location: Lafayette Indiana
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the other major sources of starting difficulty are the glow plugs and fuel filters. these need to be verified for function. the filters should be changed on general principals. the air filter should be cleaned out too.

these are really really tough dependable engines, but the basics must be attended to if normal operation is to be expected.

good luck

tom w
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