Intermittent Starter Grind


GTLou
05-24-2006, 02:37 PM
I have a 2001 Grand Prix SE with 70,000 miles on the 3.1L engine. I've had a problem with the starter grinding for a couple of seconds after the engine is started. I noticed that it only happens when the engine is cold. The engine always starts ok but the noise is loud and I'm sure it's not good for the flywheel teeth. I replaced the starter but the grinding is still happening. When I put the new starter in, there were no shims on the old one. Should I try adding a shim? There didn't seem to be any evidence of fluid contamination on the old starter. Any ideas on why this is happening? Thanks.

BNaylor
05-24-2006, 03:33 PM
I've seen 3.1L and 3.4L with shims on the starter. That is normally the only way to correct the starter to flywheel/flexplate noise or engagement problem. It would be a good idea to inspect the teeth just to be sure. Good luck!

richtazz
05-24-2006, 05:49 PM
I agree with Bob. Just because the original starter didn't have a shim doesn't mean the new one (especially a cheap-o. no-brand aftermarket one) won't. The housing on a reman/rebuilt starter is put in a tumbler machine, and may be ground down to true it up, causing the pinion to flywheel clearance to shrink, resulting in a starter drive hanging up in the flywheel. If you drop the starter, look at the wear pattern on the starter drive. If it's all the way down to the bottom of the teeth, you need a shim. Proper clearance is .030" between the flywheel tooth and the bottom of the starter drive teeth. IT is VERY difficult to measure accurately, so use the wear pattern as a guide and add shims .015" at a time until it stops sticking. Good luck

troy1
05-24-2006, 06:27 PM
My Dodge does that only when it cold out POS cheap reman getting it rebuild here intown before winter.

GTLou
06-12-2006, 09:51 AM
Well, I tried adding shims to resolve the starter grind and there was no difference. I started with one ( .015") shim and then added another but there was no difference. The one thing I don't understand is why the starter doesn't grind all the time. Sometimes I can lessen the chance of it happening by turning the key real quick. But, if I turn the key too quick, the engine won't start. Any other suggestions? Thanks.

BNaylor
06-12-2006, 10:56 AM
Well, I tried adding shims to resolve the starter grind and there was no difference. I started with one ( .015") shim and then added another but there was no difference. The one thing I don't understand is why the starter doesn't grind all the time. Sometimes I can lessen the chance of it happening by turning the key real quick. But, if I turn the key too quick, the engine won't start. Any other suggestions? Thanks.

What brand starter did you install, aftermarket or OEM/AC Delco? Have you inspected the flexplate/flywheel teeth?

richtazz
06-12-2006, 11:54 AM
It could be the start of a battery going bad. They will not deliver full voltage until a draw has been put on it. Try turning the ignition on for 15 or so seconds (with the headlights on) before attempting to start. If it starts good that way, you may want to check your battery.

GTLou
06-13-2006, 08:38 AM
The starter is a remanufactured unit by USA Industries. I looked at the flywheel teeth and the contact pattern was towards the outer edge of the teeth and slightly off. In other words, the starter teeth were not engaging the flywheel teeth perfectly centered. I can take a digital picture of the teeth with the flywheel inspection cover off so you can see what I'm talking about. Thanks.

GTLou
06-13-2006, 08:40 AM
I will try turning on the headlights, waiting 15 seconds and then starting the vehicle and see what happens. Thanks for the help.

BNaylor
06-13-2006, 01:21 PM
The starter is a remanufactured unit by USA Industries. I looked at the flywheel teeth and the contact pattern was towards the outer edge of the teeth and slightly off. In other words, the starter teeth were not engaging the flywheel teeth perfectly centered. I can take a digital picture of the teeth with the flywheel inspection cover off so you can see what I'm talking about. Thanks.

Try what Rich suggested first. If that doesn't work then check the condition of the pinion on the starter and then pinion gear to flywheel clearance. Pinion to flywheel clearance is .5mm or .020". You can use a wire feeler gauge. You add shims until to get that clearance. If using .015" shim you can go up to three shims. If condition is not corrected then single shims can be added to the outer side of starter motor bolt using .015" shims.

Normally if you get the grinding or high pitched winding sound after engine starts and the key is released then it indicates the distance between pinion and flywheel is too small. Good luck!

GTLou
06-15-2006, 09:01 AM
It could be the start of a battery going bad. They will not deliver full voltage until a draw has been put on it. Try turning the ignition on for 15 or so seconds (with the headlights on) before attempting to start. If it starts good that way, you may want to check your battery.
Well, I tried leaving the ignition on for 15 seconds with headlights on and the starter still was grinding. I did this when the engine was cold three separate times and unfortunately the starter would still grind. I guess I will have to get under the car and pull that starter to get a look at the pinion gear. Thanks for the help.

BNaylor
06-15-2006, 09:12 AM
I didn't think it was the battery but it is was probably worth a try. There is something about the starters on the 3.1/3.4. There is not much data in the service manual I could provide other than the specs already given. However, it does emphasize most pinion to flywheel problems could be the starter itself, especially if it is an aftermarket brand. It will take a while and some patience if you decide to shim any further. Good luck!

richtazz
06-15-2006, 11:17 AM
When he mentioned the wear pattern, I figured it was the starter to flywheel clearance. You may need to shim only the outside bolt, to draw the starter in, since it's not engaging deep enough. Normally, GM starters engage too deep, and the shims pull it away.

Just for reference, the proper USA Industries starter part number for your application (01 SE with a 3.1-J) is 6491. Check to be sure you got the right starter before going any further, as it's possible you got a wrong part.

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