Weak Starter

Gotta love that wiring . . .
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:35 pm
Your car is a: 1978 spider 1800

Weak Starter

Postby BluePaulie » Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:46 am

Hi All,

I tried to start my my 124, but got a lot of noise & SMOKE instead. I found that the battery cables were loose, so after tightening them it started normally again (I couldn't see the source of the smoke though).

Since then, I've had the occasional click, click, click problem I've read about - did I burn the solonoid?

Also, the cranking strength has always been weak (ie, if I pump the gas, the crank barely gets past top dead center).

Should I just replace the starter with a more modern unit?


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Posts: 3304
Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:00 pm
Your car is a: 1973 Spider
Location: Highland, MD

Re: Weak Starter

Postby baltobernie » Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:55 pm

The starter on this car is awkward to remove and replace. Starters need not only the correct voltage, but also a large amount of current. I'd first connect booster cables to a known-good, running car and then try starting the Spider. If you still experience the conditions you've described, have a friend or mechanic connect a "remote starter switch" to the starter terminals. If this too fails, then consider a new starter. There are posts here detailing removal and installation. Of course, take the old one to an automotive electric shop to be tested before buying a new one.

Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:54 pm
Your car is a: 1977 Fiat Spider
Location: Los Gatos, CA

Re: Weak Starter

Postby wubie317 » Fri Aug 04, 2017 1:22 pm

One more thing to check. The ground wire can get dirty, loose or sometimes pitted because of a bad connection. Just last week I thought my starter was dead...At first, it would grind occasionally, later it stopped working completely. On a lark, I went underneath the car, pulled the ground wire (which was too easy, no resistance) and saw a small hole in the side of the connector. I pinched it with some needle nose pliers then shoved it back on. All was fixed!

I did replace the original starter with the smaller, gear reduction starter from autoricambi a year or so ago. Getting the full size original out was virtually impossible for me, so I bump-started it and brought it to my mechanic do the work.

Posts: 1430
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2014 10:21 pm
Your car is a: 1978 124 Spider with Isuzu Turbo Diesel

Re: Weak Starter

Postby DieselSpider » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:50 pm

Also the starter solenoid does draw a lot of current since it first has extend the starter gear out into the teeth on the flywheel and then close the contacts tight enough to provide sufficient current to the starter motor.

Many will find that adding a relay that only takes a few milli-amps to engage and can carry a 40 amp load such as a headlight relay to take the 10 or so amp load off the ignition switch can greatly extend the life of both the ignition switch and starter solenoid along with the starter motor.

That mod totally eliminated my issues with the 2 kilowatt starter on the diesel in my spider.

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Posts: 77
Joined: Thu May 18, 2017 9:42 am
Your car is a: 1980 Fiat 124 Spider

Re: Weak Starter

Postby AndyVAS » Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:07 pm

Relays are great. They do so much for the starting circuit on these cars. A definite must add item.

The starter having more trouble when you pump the gas makes me believe the starter is on it's way out. By opening the throttle you are letting the motor suck in more air and build more compression. The extra compression makes the starter work harder. Having the same issue on my riding mower. I have to get it spinning with the throttle lever closed and then slide it open 1/2 way or more to fire off and run. Opening it before it starts to spin stops the little starter on the first compression stroke.
Andy Phillips
Vick Auto - Technician, Performance Engine Builder & PFI Developer (with ITBs)
Stock parts or Performance parts we've got what you need.

Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2015 12:55 pm
Your car is a: 1975 Fiat 124 Spider

Re: Weak Starter

Postby spate75fiat124 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:48 pm

Many years ago (40+) when I had a 1970 124, I found that the contact point between the brushes and the commutator would get a film that would lessen current flow to the armature and slow down the rotation speed. took to cleaning it up every year with a bit of very fine sandpaper (1000 grit) and off it went. Just a pain to pull the starter.

Posts: 148
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:07 pm
Your car is a: 1979 Spider 2000
Location: concord, ca

Re: Weak Starter

Postby geospider » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:06 am

I will be adding a relay for the started in a few days. have read a bunch of threads. but, looking for pics or a wiring diagram for this.
I know some have taken the power from the alternator post (easy given location) '79 spider (Batt in trunk)
i know this is simple...sorry for ignorance; mechanical stuff is easier for me

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