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Old 14-08-2016, 19:16   #1
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Volvo Penta 2003: Why is starter motor clicking?

Late last fall, as I was getting ready to put my boat away for the year, the starter stopped working. Instead of cranking the engine, I would just hear the solenoid clicking when I turned the key. The odd thing was that sometimes it started. Everyone told me it was probably the batteries, because it was cold and they were four years old. The marina was able to easily jump start it to run antifreeze through it, and so they concluded the problem was my batteries as well.

This year, I replaced all the batteries. Battery Bank 1 is two Group 31 batteries, and Battery Bank 2 is one Group 24 starting battery. The engine was working fine earlier in the summer. But today (it was 100 degrees outside) I got the same clicking sound. I tried battery bank 1, battery bank 2, and both. At first, I thought it might be the malfunctioning solar charger that may have boiled the batteries, thereby ruining them. (It was a flexcharge PV7D, that seems to be malfunctioning because I've seen it bring Battery 2 up to 15.5V even though its specs say it should cut off at 14.2) But then I tried a few more times, and the engine turned over and started quite well. I ran it for ten minutes, and shut it down. I then easily started it again.

So my question is what can be wrong with it? Is it the batteries again? Should I try replacing the cables from the battery switches to the motor? (The ones to the battery are new.) Is it the solenoid or the starter motor? If the latter, how hard is this to replace? Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Joe
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Old 15-08-2016, 04:26   #2
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Re: Volvo Penta 2003: Why is starter motor clicking?

Check ground connections from block to batteries. Often ignored and subject to neglect... Ideal starter will have ground connection either straight to battery bank / ground buss or strap connection to engine ground. Corrosion at point of starter mount can cause ground fault if no strap or direct connection.

Solenoid contacts subject to arcing and pitting... replacement is cheap. If running a jumper cable direct to the starter input from the B+ (around the solenoid) spins the engine... bad solenoid.

Worn or broken brushes in the starter can cause intermittent faults. Not a big fix...

My guess would be poor ground side circuit or solenoid.
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Old 15-08-2016, 05:25   #3
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Re: Volvo Penta 2003: Why is starter motor clicking?

Your wiring / connections are iffy... remake and see if the problems goes away.
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Old 15-08-2016, 11:20   #4
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Re: Volvo Penta 2003: Why is starter motor clicking?

Clicking and failing to turn the starter can be a couple of things. A bad connection somewhere in the cables between the batteries and starter or a bad solenoid. Each connection should be disassembled and cleaned. Both pos and neg.
Solenoids have 2 contacts and usually a disk that rotates over time to extend the solenoid life. When energized, many amps flow thru the contacts leaving small pits. In time big pits that won't carry the necessary current to turn the starter. To fix in the field, most solenoids can be disassembled. Either by removing screws or rivets. The two points (where the battery + cable and the starter connect) and the disk can be filed/sanded to renew the surface.
A 3rd, more remote possibility, is bad contact between the key/starter switch and the solenoid.
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Old 15-08-2016, 14:04   #5
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Re: Volvo Penta 2003: Why is starter motor clicking?

I too have seen it twice in different situations. One time it was a dead battery, the other time it was when the starter was stuck and the problem disappeared once we removed the starter, disassembled the whole rig, cleaned and reassembled it.

The second challenge is at times solved by a hammer tap, but I think it is only good as a temporary method.

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Old 15-08-2016, 18:13   #6
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Re: Volvo Penta 2003: Why is starter motor clicking?

Try "hot wiring" a remote starter switch, as a diagnostic if nothing else. If that works, you know its in the wiring harness. The 2003 wiring is marginal at best. The connectors get worn and corroded, the fancy "multi-fuse" block is unreliable, and the relay can be flakey too.

On the other hand, the starter itself has been very reliable, at least on our 2003T.
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Old 15-08-2016, 19:11   #7
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Re: Volvo Penta 2003: Why is starter motor clicking?

If it clicks, but the motor doesn't turn, then follow Lepke's instructions, or get a new solenoid. (Cheap if it's Chevy, arm and leg if it's Volvo)

I don't know about that green thing, but once, while stranded in the middle of the Baja desert in my IHC Scout, I disassembled the solenoid turned the disk over for a new surface.
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Old 16-08-2016, 10:26   #8
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Re: Volvo Penta 2003: Why is starter motor clicking?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Seal View Post
If it clicks, but the motor doesn't turn, then follow Lepke's instructions, or get a new solenoid. (Cheap if it's Chevy, arm and leg if it's Volvo)

I don't know about that green thing, but once, while stranded in the middle of the Baja desert in my IHC Scout, I disassembled the solenoid turned the disk over for a new surface.
It's a Bosch.
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Old 16-08-2016, 12:13   #9
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Re: Volvo Penta 2003: Why is starter motor clicking?

Bosch parts can be pricey. But they last well. Stick with Bosch.

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Old 16-08-2016, 18:27   #10
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Re: Volvo Penta 2003: Why is starter motor clicking?

Thanks for all the responses. Seems like I should start with all the electrical connections first, checking them and/or bypassing them. Once I do that, and if it doesn't work, I may come back to you guys about the next steps. It wasn't obvious to me how to remove the solenoid for example when I was looking at it last fall.
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