P71 SuperDork
Jan. 31, 2010 7:17 p.m.

One of my cars won't start. Unfortunately, it's the Hornet. I'm hoping somebody here has an idea. First off, it's a 73 with a 232 I-6 and 3-Speed auto (column, no tilt). It always "hesitated" to start (kinda like a low battery or a high draw). Ran great ever since I bought it until about 2-3 weeks ago. I went to start it and the starter wouldn't stop! The engine never fired and the starter went "whir...whirrr......whirrrrrrrrrrrr...." and that was that. I charged the battery and tried again the next day. Everything turns on and works (lights, chime, gauges) but I can't even get the starter to "click".

So I replaced the starter solenoid (fenderwell mounted, 5 posts), starter (single wire), battery ground (terminal to block) and ignition switch (column mounted, actuated by a rod on the top of the column). After changing everything except the ignition switch the first time I tried to start it the starter started going on the "accessory" indent. Once I clicked off and back on I got nothing. With the new ignition switch I get less than nothing (the "ALT" and "BATT" lights don't illuminate on the dash, the sign that an AMC is in the "run" position).

I'm so frustrated I want to burn the thing! I have the factory service manual and it doesn't have any clues (no fusible links or anything). Ideas?

Spinout007 HalfDork
Jan. 31, 2010 7:22 p.m.

I had an old diesel truck that would randomly eat starters(litteraly got to where I could change the starter in less than 10 min) . It would do exactly like you described, but replacing the starter usually fixed it. Only thing I can suggest is a.) have you tried "jumping" the 'noid? if it will start there, then it's prob in the little box under the dash, or the switch itself.

Spinout007 HalfDork
Jan. 31, 2010 7:23 p.m.

Btw, disconnecting the battery on my truck usually gave it another shot at starting.

P71 SuperDork
Jan. 31, 2010 7:36 p.m.

Jumping the solenoid nets me nothing, not even a spark. I hate electrons!

(and people wonder why I am so rabidly against DBW)

Junkyard_Dog HalfDork
Jan. 31, 2010 7:44 p.m.

Ground(s). Sounds like you replaced almost everything on the power side. A bad engine ground strap will do almost exactly the same thing.

Hal HalfDork
Jan. 31, 2010 7:45 p.m.
P71 wrote: ignition switch (column mounted, actuated by a rod on the top of the column).

Assuming that means that the turning the key moves a rod that actuates the actual switch, I would say that is where the problem is.

The length of the rod is probably not adjusted properly.

Can you describe how the rod is connected from the key part to the actual electrical switch?

aussiesmg SuperDork
Jan. 31, 2010 7:57 p.m.

Can you test to see if you get power to the starter when you turn the key?

P71 SuperDork
Jan. 31, 2010 9:53 p.m.

I haven't replaced the solenoid to starter ground cable (because it looks fairly new) or the block-to-chassis (because everything else works). I'll grab the solenoid to starter one sometime this week and try that.


Yes, turning the key moves the rod in and out, which is what actuates the ignition switch. I didn't think about the rod being "out of adjustment". I did, however, try moving the switch with a screwdriver out of the column (but plugged into the harness, and still got jack nothing.


My multi-meter sucks so I haven't tried that. I did try "jumping" two of the terminals on the solenoid and got nothing, not even a spark. I could also try a direct jump from the battery terminal to the starter just to see if it works...

Feb. 1, 2010 11:45 a.m.

You might also want to try another battery, just for grins.

Nashco SuperDork
Feb. 1, 2010 12:16 p.m.

Drive it on down to Portland and I'll fix it for you, I'm pretty good with electrons. Oh, wait...that won't work.

Start with the obvious stuff first...battery voltage, fuses not blown, ground wires in good condition, high current cables have good/tight connections, etc. From there, you just have to follow the power...positive into the ignition switch, outputs from the switch turn on when you turn the key, outputs make it all the way to the dash/starter/fuse block/whatever, etc. Good luck, sounds like you just need somebody handy with a test light. Unfortunately, that's tough to teach over the internets.


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