New user and super bummed : Starter Solenoids


New Member
Dear internet please help me,

New X owner but I have wrenched my own since the 90s. I also have owned a Lancia Beta Coupe and two Zagatos. So I feel a little used to the Fiat/italian format of the late 70s. I picked up a garage find so to speak. A rust free 82 with low miles parked in 86 or so. I've been doing some sorting and soaked the cylinders in oil for days then hooked up temporary fuel to get it running. In the process, it turned over easy and pretty much started up in a couple turns of the key. It coughed a little and shut off.

Then the solenoid went unresponsive at the key. My first italian issue in 1994 was a bum solenoid on my Beta Coupe. Pre-internet forums, I ran a relay to it and all was good. So thinking poor wire current, I pulled the key switch connector and attempted to jump straight battery to solenoid to get any ignition switch issue out of the way. Same thing, a decent spark but no action. So then I cleaned the solenoid connector and tightened the female connection. Same thing.

Then I pulled the starter. I get a spark at the solenoid but no engaging of the forks. This was the original Marelli starter. So obviously when you buy an italian car (or an MG) it usually comes with a pile of parts. Well this one came with the backend of a wrecked 82 (of course). So I pulled that starter, bench tested it and put it on the car.

Super happy about creating some more fuel air spark and continuing to sort the car, it turned over twice. Then the starter goes dead again. Same thing. Pulled the key connector to straight jump it and all I get is spark. No click no turn no nothing.

So again, I am reminded of why I swore off italian cars :)) ha.

What could cause two working starters to die after 3 start attempts??? I pulled the transmission ground strap and despite its bright copper shine, I cleaned it, used DeOxit, yet still the same thing.

Thanks all


Daily Driver
The body ground at the battery is a known trouble spot. Check/clean where it attaches to the body; replace if strands are broken.
You might want to monitor the voltage across the starter when you try turning it on to determine if it is a starter issue or a wiring issue.

Also, these motors are in about the worst possible place as far as collecting grease, oil and dirt. I would recommend taking the starter apart for a cleaning. You can then check the brushes and see if they are OK (Used ones on eBay <$10). I also chucked up the armature in a drill and used some 600 grit to burnish the commutator. After my light overhaul, the starter operated like it was new. The job is also pretty quick once you have the motor out.