engine will not crank at all - help please. - Rolls-Royce and Bentley Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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engine will not crank at all - help please.


The battery is very healthy and lights are bright (including when TRYING to crank)

The Park/Neutral interlock is working well - when in anything other than N or P, the key results in nothing happening. When they shift is in P or N then a loud "click" can be heard from the relay panel under the glovebox - but not a sausage from the starter.

Oddly, when I removed the relay labelled "starter interlock" - another relay STILL clicked when the key was turned to the start position. Is there more than one relay?

I know it might be the starter solenoid has died, but as I have no jack / lifts etc, I wondered if there were other things to prod and check before trying to see if the starter solenoid is being given a signal.

Certainly something is happening as far as a relay in the area under the glovebox - but looking at my manual on CD there seem to be a lot of additional interlocks, fuses and relays - alas the quality is so grim it is almost impossible to see what is what - so not really quite sure where to go testing. I have meter and good old lamp and wire - just no idea what relays etc I should be looking for.

All thoughts welcome, my last ditch attempt I guess is to try and connect directly to the start solenoid and as a "get me going" device, just have a button somewhere I can prod to start the old girl up.

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 04:43 AM
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Essex, UK
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I can only think of under-car things to check.
1) The most usual fault to exhibit the 'click' you describe is bad contacts in the electrical multi-pin connector from the gearchange lever harness down into the gearbox (the gearbox end). The solution is to unplug, clean with an electical contacts aerosol (and maybe a brush) and re-connect.
2) Loose/corroded connection from the battery cable to the starter/solonoid. I did once have success by leaning under the unjacked car and spraying the general area with WD40 - as a get me home,. I then dismantled a, cleaned and re-assembled for a more permenant solution.
3) As you have observed, it could be the solonoid itself - but I think that is unlikely.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 01:31 PM
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Mark, first go to the RROC Australia Technical Library to find their copy of the workshop manuals, etc., for your car. They've put up some very, very high quality scans that are accessible to anyone and are completely free.

Also, I'm wondering if you could be experiencing something that often happened on Shadows over time from oil leaks from the valve covers. Slowly, so much crud collects on the connections for the starter that the electrical flow is no longer sufficient to allow it to crank. If you do get the car on a lift, or up on jack stands, be sure to examine the state of that area around the starter.

I've also known a few people who traced issues like this to the shifter. If placed in neutral, then slightly pushed back toward Park with very light pressure, suddenly the starter cranked. Probably a microswitch or contact at work there.


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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-09-2010, 08:48 AM
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Go right to the starter solenoid and test for electricity. At that point you can trace either way, you will have a good starting point. It could be a dead starter.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-14-2010, 12:30 PM
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We seem to have the same fault, except that last night my car was doing a strange noise by the starter. Sort of noise like the starter motor was out of place knocking on something. Finally after playing with the key ON and OFF it started as it should. Today it is only a "click", "click", "click" noise. I looked at the workshop manual and it reads:

Engine fails to start (Starter motor inoperative)
a) Gear range selector out of "neutral" or "park" selection
b) Ignition fuse blown
c) Battery discharged
d) Break or High resistance in battery connections & starter relay connection
e) Auxiliary starter relay faulty
f) Faulty starter motor

I really cannot see the starter motor gone as it started yesterday and I dismantled it about 6 month ago and it was fine. It is not the gear range, fuse are OK, battery is full.

I might have to check the starter relay connection and the auxiliary starter relay, but I am in the fog as to where it is located, can anyone give me some light on this?

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by silver_spirit_iv
Sort of noise like the starter motor was out of place knocking on something.
Probably the starter motor solenoid needs replacing.

Enjoy The Drive,

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-03-2010, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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As a little bit of an update, I have now managed to make it work again - but in the process learned two things which may possibly be of interest to others.

Firstly, the interlock relay on my version (RBG-? - Turbo R 1986) is in the electrical panel under the glovebox - and the relay is a standard lucas type with lucar connections. I could hear the relay energise and when I removed it and checked it and powered the coil, I had continuity between common and n/o - which is all as it should be.

However what I didn't know was that this relay had an intermittent fault - and although tested fine - had previously - and subsequently no connection between common and n/o when mounted in the car. I have yet to dismantle it to satisfy my curiosity as to why.

So, suggestion 1 would be as a quick test, swap the cranking relay to the identical spec relay to the right (which on my model is for the electric aerial), if the car now starts, problem identified. If not (and the aerial still works, then both relays are well)

As a quick aside - even when this relay is removed however there is STILL another click heard when the key is turned into the cranking position. Quite what THAT relay is or WHERE it is, I am not sure, the click seems to come from behind the panel - as I didn't need to look further, I didn't.

The second point allows for a really cheap and ugly "Get you home" without crawling under the car to attach power directly to the starter solenoid. Assuming the fault is further back, you have a very hand relay just under the bonnet, near the top - almost reachable with driver window open and bonnet up - helpfully marked "STARTER".

Remove this relay and DOUBLE check you have brakes AND definately in Park or Neutral - this "get you home trick" circumvents all of the interlocks about Park and Neutral. If you are in gear, the engine will still start and then you are going to be unhappy. In fact, check a THIRD time that you are in neutral, or Park and ideally have a mate inside ready to hoof the brake pedal.

Remove the relay and insert a bit of reasonably thick wire (opened out paperclip will suffice at a push) that goes between the common and the normally open poles of the relay holder. As you look at the relay, the two holes on the left and right are for the coil - don't short them out. the ones which go from top to bottom are the common and the normally/open. If you short these out, irrespective of what gear is selected - oir even if there is a key in the ignition, the engine will crank so long as the starter & solenoid plus wiring to it - is ok. (and battery ok of course).

I mention this only as if you have a problem with an interlock relay OR the microswitches in the gear switches on the steering wheel - OR a problem with the extra switches in the gearbox - then this will let you start the car and get you home.

I will admit to being really thick here - DO also make sure you have remember to turn the ignition on though - just because you can make the engine crank doesn't mean you have remembered to turn the ignition on

So that's it. Hope it helps someone get home on a dark wet night sometime - or at least confirm that the problem is before or after that particular test point! If she doesn't crank when you do this trick and there is a click - it is a starter problem. If no click either the solenoid on the starter or the wire from the relay you are playing with to the starter - it seems to be a direct link. If it works fine, then swap out the cranking relay first. If that makes no difference, it would seem to be time to start considering the microswitch interlocks in the steering wheel gearstick assembly or the one on the side of the gearbox actuator motor.

Very many thanks to others who have posted thoughts and ideas on here - and also PM'd to offer information too. I appreciate it.

Kind Regards
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-05-2010, 09:43 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
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This info might go good in the solutions and DIY forum.
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