Reader Question: Hi!
I am really hoping you can help me.
I have a 1990 GMC Sierra V8. Recently, it just would not start. The lights/radio/other electrical components work fine; it just will not turn over.
I had it towed to a mechanic’s shop where they said they did a computer diagnostic test on it and narrowed it down to the starter. They were going to charge me $209 + tax to fix it.
So, I got one of my friends (an army mechanic) to put a new starter on for $80, including parts. Still… it did not start. The original mechanic had assured us that the battery would have plenty of juice. However, we took the battery to auto zone to have it tested and it had far fewer than 9V of power.
Could that have damaged the new starter when we tried to start the truck? Could it be a problem with wiring? What should our next step be?
If the battery only has 9 volts, I would replace it and see if that fixes your problem. You need 12 volts to start the engine. You probably did not damage the starter with the 9-volt battery, but that weak battery did not give the starter enough juice to spin over the engine.
Read my reply to this reader’s problem, which sounds similar to yours.
You want to look at the headlights for brightness, and not the lights inside the cab of the vehicle, which only require a small amount of battery power to operate them. The battery cable bolts are very notorious for accumulating corrosion and becoming loose, so check the battery cable connections very closely. You should not be able to easily move the battery cables on the battery with your bare hands.
If you still have troubles. Try starting the vehicle in neutral if it starts you probably have a bad neutral safety switch or the switch is out of adjustment.