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Known Ignition Switch Issues

Discussion in '"Stock" Alpine' started by fastfrontier17, Apr 27, 2022.

  1. fastfrontier17

    fastfrontier17 Donation Time

    Hi all,

    Trying to do some route cause from afar. My car has a relatively new battery and when pressing the button on the starter solenoid (or crossing the terminals with a screw driver), the starter will engage. When trying to use the ignition switch, the solenoid clicks and after 5 seconds or so of holding it the starter finally kicks over. All wires are connected and not loose. Are there any known issues with the ignition switch that I should check for to know if its actually the switch?
  2. hartmandm

    hartmandm Moderator Platinum Level Sponsor

    Check if the white+red wire at the solenoid goes hot when the ignition switch is turned to the 'start' position. If yes, I'd move on to diagnosing the starter solenoid, such as checking its ground connection.
    Paul A likes this.
  3. Paul A

    Paul A Alpine Registry Curator Platinum Level Sponsor

    Over the years I have found a couple that act as you described. From afar, it seems most likely to be a faulty switch or bad connection between the switch and solenoid.
  4. Paul A

    Paul A Alpine Registry Curator Platinum Level Sponsor

    the solenoid functions correctly when manually activated..probably not a ground issue
  5. hartmandm

    hartmandm Moderator Platinum Level Sponsor

    I wasn't sure if the button manually moved the relay internally versus electrically activated the relay. Manual movement of the relay mechanism seems like a better design. :)

  6. fastfrontier17

    fastfrontier17 Donation Time

    So when the switch is turned to "start", is the 12v applied to the solenoid, bringing the contacts together? Meaning that with just the ignition in the ON position there would be no voltage to red/white wire?
  7. Knightowl61

    Knightowl61 Gold Level Sponsor

    Pressing the solenoid button would be like shorting the terminals with a screwdriver (no ground needed).
    I would suspect solenoid/ground. A sure fire test would be using a couple test leads, one to ground the solenoid (see if that works first) and tapping 12v to the key switch terminal (make sure car is out of gear). If that works then 12v from the key switch will be the problem. Check for loose wire/terminals.
    fastfrontier17 likes this.
  8. hartmandm

    hartmandm Moderator Platinum Level Sponsor

    Yes. The white+red wire only goes hot when the ignition is in the 'start' position and that closes the relay inside the solenoid (or is supposed to close it).
  9. fastfrontier17

    fastfrontier17 Donation Time

    Ordered a replacement solenoid from moss with push button just in case. Maybe I'll whack it with a lead hammer just to see if that helps lol.
  10. husky drvr

    husky drvr Platinum Level Sponsor


    Just a thought:

    It's been a long time since I played with an Alpine solenoid, but I think it's assembled - electrically - the same as a regular relay.

    If that's the case, the drive coil and the high current contacts have NO common electrical connection.

    When the manual button is pushed, the contact bar is MANUALLY driven to contact between the high current input and output. There should not be any voltage in the red-white wire because the ignition switch is not engaged.

    If that is the case, then the solenoid's quality of ground is NOT indicated by manual engagement of the manual button. In fact, if the solenoid drive coil were grounded to the high current output, then as soon as the solenoid were to engage electrically, the high current output terminal would have the same 12V potential as the voltage driving the coil causing the coil to stop operation.

    You should check the solenoid case to ground because that contact is the drive coil ground.

    Good luck,
    Barry likes this.
  11. fastfrontier17

    fastfrontier17 Donation Time

    Checked red/white wire while connected to solenoid, on first try it read 0 volts until turning ignition to start, at which point it read a little over 12 v and the starter kicked over. I tried it one more time and it did the same thing. I disconnected all of my multimeter wires and tried it again about 5 minutes later and just a loud click from the solenoid.

    I then disconnected the red/ white wire from the solenoid and hooked it up to my multimeter. With just the ignition switch turned to"on", it read around 7 volts? Then when I turned the ignition to start, it shot up to 12.36 volts. Is this normal? Why was there voltage before turning the key to start?

    The last thing I did was I hooked the red/white back, and took a big lead hammer to the solenoid and whacked it a few times... I turned the ignition to start and the starter kicked over. I then tried it again and just a click from the solenoid. Battery was reading around 12.76 volts when measured at the battery terminals.
  12. hartmandm

    hartmandm Moderator Platinum Level Sponsor

    I wouldn't expect to see 7 volts on the white+red wire with the ignition in the 'run' position.

    You are hearing the solenoid click, but I don't think you have tested to see if the solenoid is actually closing the relay properly. Try monitoring the resistance across the big solenoid terminals or monitor the voltage of the terminal going to the starter. Then when you turn the ignition to 'start' and you only hear the solenoid click and starter not engage, see how the voltage or resistance reading changes. If the solenoid has actually closed the circuit, you should see a fairly low resistance across the solenoid terminals or you should see something in the ball park of 12 volts at the terminal that goes to the starter.

  13. Tom H

    Tom H Platinum Level Sponsor

    If you read about 7 volts on the red white wire with the ignition not in the Start position I suspect that you are seeing just a tinny bit of leakage across the terminals of the switch due to moisture and dirt. Most digital multimeters have a 10 Megohm input impedance which allows it to read/ measure tiny leakage voltages like that.

    If you leave the red/white wire connected, do you consistently get a loud click from the solenoid, but the starter only cranks sometimes? If so the problem is not the ignition switch. As Mike suggested measure the voltage at the solenoid terminal that the starter cable is connected to. If you get a solid solenoid clunk each time you turn the ignition to Start, but not always 12 V to the starter, the big contacts inside the solenoid are not making good contact consistently . In my 50+ years of Sunbeaming, I have see 3 problems at the solenoid. 1) Solenoid not well grounded, so intermittent "clunking" of the solenoid. 2) Bad contacts inside the solenoid, so we get good solenoid "clunk" but intermittent starter action. 3) I have had a solenoid with a loose terminal where the red/white wire attaches, not only mechanically wobbly, but with a poor connection to the wire inside. I fixed it by resoldering the wire to the rivet holding the spade lug in place
  14. fastfrontier17

    fastfrontier17 Donation Time

    It was the solenoid. The replacement from moss motors went in and it started first crank with fresh gas after 9 months.

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