New Starter Will Spin - Won't Engage

07-01-2017, 02:53 PM
I just got a new starter for our traverse and installed it but it wouldn't engage the flywheel. It spins just fine but won't crank engine.

Here is a list of what's happening;

Starter power wire has 12v and starter spins freely
Starter solenoid connector has 12v when key turned to start
Starter solenoid kicks out gear perfectly (Bench Tested)

Do these traverses require some sort of shims for the starters or something? All I can think of is that the gear is missing the flywheel or somehow the solenoid isn't pushing out the gear as it should when the starter is in the car( works fine on a bench).

Any thoughts?

Thank you


07-01-2017, 07:22 PM
Sounds like wrong starter, or teeth missing on the ring gear.

07-01-2017, 07:38 PM
Well I checked teeth they look good. I have tried both old Starter and new starter (they are identical) so I know I have he right Starter.. Could I have not aligned it right somehow? I didn't think that was possible on newer cars but who knows

07-01-2017, 08:08 PM
What was wrong with the old one?

07-01-2017, 08:12 PM
Nothing.. I made a stupid assumption thinking the starter was bad, ordered one, took it out and decided to test the old one. It was good. The battery was the issue. I replaced the battery put the old starter in and it would just spin now and wouldn't engage. So I put the new one in and t did the same thing. I have no idea what could have changed but the starter never had an issue engaging until I took t out?

Blue Bowtie
07-01-2017, 10:00 PM
And the teeth on the flywheel/flex plate are intact?

07-01-2017, 10:24 PM
Thanks for the replies guys. Yes the flywheel looks great. Everything looks just fine and everything was contacting/engaging just fine before I took the starter out, it was just weak like the starter was going out. Now somehow it's just not engaging.

Blue Bowtie
07-02-2017, 08:20 AM
Best guess is that there is an alignment or spacing problem with the starter/pad on the block.

It is important to use starter bolts, not common hardware to assure that there is no unnecessary clearance which can allow the starter to move. Also, some replacement or remanufactured starters will require shims for proper alignment/spacing.

Tech II
07-02-2017, 08:48 AM
When you took the old starter out, were there any shims?

If none, and you have good clean connections at the starter, it should engage....

Any corrosion at the battery terminals when you replaced the battery?

You say you have 12 volts at the you have at least 10 volts at the starter with the key in the crank position?

Have you checked the ground connection on the block where the negative cable attaches?

07-02-2017, 09:40 AM
That's what I keep resorting back to is that there must be spacing or an alignment issue. I did not notice any shims when I took it out. Just so we're on the same page I am using the old starter and have returned the new one.

There were no corrosion at the terminals on the battery.

I have cleaned all connections at the battery, fuse panel, and the starter. Seems to have a great connection.

Yes I have a full 11/12 volts still while key is in on position and I have the same on the solenoid connector when cranking.

I have not been able to find the ground cable from the block though. Do you know where it is?

07-02-2017, 01:08 PM
At this point I am completely baffled. I can't understand what the hell is going on. I measure the distance inside to contact the flywheel and measured the distance from the mounting point to the gear on the starter and they match up perfectly so no shims should be needed. It should at least be contacting each other slightly but they don't even touch.

I retested all connections. I installed the starter and tested solenoid by only installing that plug and it popped out the gear by using the ignition just like it should. I reconnected the power wire for the motor and it spins just like it should but it will not contact the flywheel!!!!!!!


I'm hearing a slight click while holding it down to start. Almost like the click/pop of the gear popping out. Maybe it's not holding out? It did when all I had connected was the solenoid though. It would pop out and stay out as long as I held it there.. any thoughts?

Blue Bowtie
07-02-2017, 01:59 PM
The solenoid must be retracting it full stroke in order to close the contacts for the starter motor main power. If the alignment is off it will compress the spring on the bendix and allow full solenoid travel either way.

07-02-2017, 04:04 PM
Any ideas?

07-02-2017, 04:17 PM
Does the engine block ground to the frame? If so where is that ground at?

Blue Bowtie
07-02-2017, 05:26 PM
There should be a negative battery cable bolted to the block, head, or intake. That connection is critical for proper operation of several systems, not the least of which is the starter. You'll be looking for Item 17:

07-02-2017, 05:44 PM
Perfect!! Thatts what I was looking for. So is item 17 the actual wire and I need to check the points at item 14 and 16 for good connections? Or is item 17 a connection point? Sorry I can't tell in the diagram.

07-02-2017, 05:49 PM
Another update by the way- I've really been cranking it over and I tried adjusting it a hair (there is minimal wiggle room with the guide pin in the block) and now it will grab sometimes. Usually I have to hold it over for 5-7 seconds until it grabs a little bit it will.

Blue Bowtie
07-02-2017, 05:56 PM
Yes, Items 14 and 16 are fasteners connecting the ground wire to the engine and frame/strut tower.

Since you were able to coax a little movement out of it and it would engage, even intermittently, that just about reaffirms the problem is with alignment/spacing. The big question is how it got out of alignment in the first place.

07-02-2017, 06:29 PM
I agree! That's what I've been trying to wrap my head around. The alignment was fine before I took it out but out of alignment after. I was gentle pulling t out too..

07-03-2017, 05:41 PM
Is it possible that being low on oil could cause the starter to have a rough time turning over the motor? It acts like it wants to start but it's almost like the starter is drawing too many amps. Voltage drops at battery from 12.3v to 9.3v. I checked voltage drop across ever power and ground, everything is good, no parasitic draws, etc...

Blue Bowtie
07-03-2017, 07:55 PM
9.3V is not ridiculously low while cranking. Depending upon the CCA capacity of the battery and its state of charge, it could be completely normal.

More importantly, is it engaging and cranking the engine more reliably now?

07-04-2017, 02:07 PM
The batter is a 48 series battery with 730 CCA and around 800 CA. I've tested the battery and had others test the battery to double confirm that it's good and it checks out every time. It seems like sometimes when cranking it is closer to starting the longer or more times I try cranking.

It is still not really cranking. I think it may have been engaging this whole time but because of the slow crank I thought it was just spinning freely....

The only things I still notice that may be of help is that;

The starter seems to work better after cranking longer or multiple times.

When cranking, the first couple turns are very slow then all the sudden it speeds up like it's going to start then goes back to slow all while holding to key to crank.

I still hear a clicking every 2/3 seconds while holding the key to crank. It's like after so many turns of the starter it clicks on little click.

07-04-2017, 03:50 PM
What was the original symptom that caused you to suspect the starter?

07-04-2017, 04:50 PM
The original cause for replacing the starter was that it would intermittently not start. It happened maybe niece a month, then once every 2 weeks, then every single day. Voltage was always good. When it wouldn't start every day, it would still start cold but would not start if I drove until the car was warmed up and shut it off then tried to start again. It's like something got hit and wouldn't allow it to start. Now it just won't start all together cold or warm...

07-04-2017, 04:51 PM
Basically when cranking cold, it used to crank just fine. Then when it would warm up, it would crank very slow and do exactly what it's doing now, while cranking it will crank slow then speed up all the sudden then slow again back and forth never turning over.

07-04-2017, 06:57 PM

It seems like it's getting even harder to fire up now, as in it is cranking slower and harder (voltage the same), and there is now a white fuzz noise coming through the speakers in the car with the stereo being off.. I can't begin to understand this. I keep thinking it's something electrical somewhere.

07-04-2017, 06:59 PM

It is NOT the speakers. I am hearing a screeching or slight squeaking noise coming for the battery location inside the car????! This has to be the issue as it barely does anything when I turn the key now

07-04-2017, 08:04 PM
Ok now I have codes popping up and car won't make a noise when I turn key. U0100 lost communication with ecm/pcm, its flashing service battery charging system on dash, battery saver mode on dash, fuel is now reading empty and I had a quarter tank, lights on dash are very dim and SES light is flickering very fast. Battery is around 12v.

Any ideas?

Blue Bowtie
07-04-2017, 08:24 PM
Get the battery charge up to the full 12.6-12.7V and start checking connections.

07-04-2017, 09:49 PM
When battery is disconnected it reads about .7volts higher than when it is connected. Is this normal or is there a drain?

Blue Bowtie
07-04-2017, 09:57 PM
Parasitic drain is commonly around 150mA on newer vehicles. 0.7V seems a little high, but that depends heavily upon the health of the battery.

07-04-2017, 09:58 PM
Voltage is dropping quickly now too. Not cranking or doing anything just having a scanner hooked up and I lost 2 volts in the matter of 40 minutes. The battery is now down to 10 volts..

07-04-2017, 10:01 PM
Another question for you. How hard should it be to turn the crank pulley without belt on, with a 1/2" socket wrench? I tried this a little bit ago and find it near impossible. I'm an active guy weighing 247 lb and at first it seemed to be turning ok but then it got to the point where I couldn't turn it at all?

07-04-2017, 10:23 PM
Got connection to ECM again. The ECM fuse was blown. Now trying to figure out what caused it... the only thing I know is I hear some noise almost like a screeching noise comeing from inside the traverse right near where the positive cable goes from the battery under the carpet. I've checked it out though and it looks good. All wiring looks ok...

07-05-2017, 08:28 AM
Another question for you. How hard should it be to turn the crank pulley without belt on, with a 1/2" socket wrench? I tried this a little bit ago and find it near impossible. I'm an active guy weighing 247 lb and at first it seemed to be turning ok but then it got to the point where I couldn't turn it at all?
Pull your plugs and try it. You're fighting against compression with the plugs in.

07-05-2017, 06:47 PM
Next update:

Somehow the fuel pump was on/running/making noise while the key was off and I was looking over the ground wires under the hood? How is this possible and is this normal?

Tech II
07-06-2017, 05:01 PM
You need a min of 9.6 volts while cranking or the PCM will not function....

07-06-2017, 05:29 PM
Got it to start somehow! I just came home today and tried to start it and it fired up? It was still hard but it fired up and ran rough for 5 minutes. Now t starts up instantly and runs pretty smooth.


I ran my scanner on it and it's running rich on both bank by -10 and the fuel pressure has reached 731psi??????!!!

Is it a bad sensor or something. That fuel pressure is crazy.

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