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Wifemobile has taken up smoking

1397 Views 11 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Dodgeboy49
My wife just pulled in with our 2000 Toyota Sienna in an awful hurry. She stopped at the store a couple blocks away and when she turned the engine off, she discovered that the starter was continuing to crank the engine. She could already smell hot electricals so she turned the key back on and ran it the short distance home. She turned the van off again but the engine continued to crank. By this point there was smoke rolling out of the starter so I turned the van on again while I got the wrench out. I disconnected the negative terminal which allowed the starter to stop running, but strangely enough, stopped the engine as well. This seemed a little odd to me, since every rig I had before would run with the battery disconnected. Anyway, my wife mentioned to me that the van had been a little hard to start when she left- she would turn the key and all she heard was a click. She did this three times and then it started. This sounds like a bad solenoid to me, and I am assuming that the solenoid is now stuck on. So my questions are as follows:
1. Anyone have this happen to them before?
2. Is it likely that I can replace the solenoid only ($100) or should I really plan on replacing the whole starter unit ($200)? The starter didn't sound bad, just smelled bad.
3. Does the fact that the engine stopped when I disconnected the battery indicate a separate problem, or is it designed to do this?

This sort of thing never happens in my Dodge... :dunno:
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I'd replace the entire starter because if one part of it is still bad you are going to have it all over again, and your wife may be at risk. This happened to my wife with a Taurus. It caught fire and she couldn't my grandaughter out of the car seat. Luckily a quick-thinking man was nearby, cut the seatbelt and pulled her and my grand daughter out of the car just before the whole car went up.
Sounds like the solenoid is stuck due to worn contacts and the plunger getting cocked to one side; I've had this nearly happen in the past (not on a minivan!), but caught it with the warning signs (like your wife had) and simply replaced the contacts and plunger for a fraction of a new starter. If it were me, and it was my wife's ride, I'd replace the whole starter since it got extremely hot; it's not worth having her, and possibly others, stuck in the middle of who knows where over a few bucks (plus, you can't even pay one tow bill for what the difference in cost is). Just tell her that she could've saved everybody some money if she would've listened to the warning signs and told somebody that could fix it; wait, let's not start a family feud. :biglaugh: :hide: A friendly tip wouldn't hurt, though. :fing32: The engine stopping with the battery disconnected should be normal.
If the starter was "stuck" on and being driven by the flywheel any length of time,I'd say the starter drive and possibly the armature and bearings got some damage done,that might not be apparent now,but will be soon...I'd ditch it,especially if its a hard one to get at and change..

Newer cars with computers and altenator fuses usually will shut off with the battery disconnected..
Not surprised about the engine stalling when you pulled the battery lead. A lot of modern engine systems these days need that battery to make their fuel injection and electronic spark ignitions work. No battery = no juice to either system. It's a bit different then those good ol days when with carbs and mechanical injection systems and "old timey" ignition systems --where you could pull the battery while they were running and still get home. These days, if your battery or charging system goes, yer pretty much dead on the road or the parking lot.
Did some more research and found a starter that is more reasonably priced, so I will be replacing the whole thing. Fortunately, it isn't too hard to get to. I've seen lots of solenoids fail but never one that failed in the "on" position. It's a little spooky because the starter really couldn't be heard with the engine running, though I'm sure it was still engaged.
My old S-10 had the starter fail in the "on" position, but not engaged with the flywheel. It stayed running even after the engine was shut off. I had to pull the battery cable to shut it off, and had the vehicle towed to the shop to get it changed. This type of failure does happen, sometimes. I'd definitely replace the motor, as they aren't designed to run for any length of time, and heat buildup will damage the insulation in the starter motor. It might work for a while, but could fail in the near future.
You may want to make sure the solenoid isn't getting power to the small wire that activates it constantly for some strange reason,like maybe the ignition switch stayed in the crank position or a relay is stuck,etc...otherwise your new starter will suffer the same fate!..

I had a starter on an old Blazer suddenly engauge itself and wouldn't shut off,I had to pull over and pull the battery cable off !..I found a large flake of rust had fallen off the exhaust manifold,and landed right onto the soleniod and it brigded the positive battery cable and the solenoids "start" wire! the time I got the battery cable off my hands were burned,and the starter was so hot I could hear the varnish melting off the armature...I had to push it and pop the clutch to get home,lucky it was a manual tranny!..since that day I always leave the ground cable clamp on the battery "loose" enough to twist it off by hand with no tools...

I've had some wire fires on old vehicles when one got pinched or rubbed thru on something--and I thought those "dissconnects" that you turn a knob to kill the power was a good thing to have on such a burning your hands trying to wrestle a battery cable off..
We had one come in like that, starter stuck... Made a gawdawful noise.

We had him shut it down, he said, "HEY it won't turn off!!" So we did like you and pulled the positive battery cable. The starter was trash, the ring gear not in real good shape, and the ignition keyswitch was stuck. (I checked the keyswitch while the rest of the guys were looking at the starter problem.)

Before it rolled out, the Master advised the guy to sell the car as quick as he could unload it, with the ring gear trashed like it was. It probably had about 30 or 40 more starts in it before the engine would have had to be pulled for a new ring gear.

May I suggest checking your ring gear and your keyswitch as it goes back together....
Pulled the starter today and discovered that in addition to the solenoid being stuck, the bendix had also jammed in the engaged position. This may have been a good thing, because it kept the gears from repeatedly grinding against each other. Both the starter gear and the ring gear appeared to be just fine. The old starter had been very hot, but I found no evidence of hot wiring which made me very happy. The new starter was pretty easy to install- didn't even have to crawl under the van to do it. Everything seems to be working perfectly now, although I will be keeping a close eye on things for a while. Thank you all for your input!!
I had my 1994 Cavalier do that when the aftermarket remote start kit lost its mind during a normal starting sequence. Fortunately I was right there and heard the starter lock on, I opened the hood and pulled the negative cable. Before I could reach over and pull the regulator harness from the alternator it slowly wound down then died. The alternator usually will run even new cars without a battery, but what happens in this case is the starter is drawing more current than the alternator can generate at idle, lowering voltage and causing the ignition to cut out.
Hmmm.... That makes sense!
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