Technical Marea 1.6 Auto - Problems with Starter Motor

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Technical Marea 1.6 Auto - Problems with Starter Motor


New member
Mar 3, 2004
United Kingdom.

I hope that someone can give me some advice.

My partner's Marea suddenly decided yesterday that it would not start. I had a quick look last night and my unproffessional opinion was that it was a problem with the starter motor. There was no problem with the lights, they came on and did not dim, so that appeared to rule out the battery, and turning the key just led to a quick succession of clicks that appeared to come from under the engine. The engine did not turn at all.

My partner tells me that there had been no odd sounds at all when starting of late, it surprises me then that the starter would suddenly just go.

I tried tapping the starter with a spanner but this did not have the desired effect, unfortunately I am unable to bump start the car as it is an auto.

Does anyone have any suggestions before I remove the starter this evening (other than disconnecting the battery of course!).

Is it a simple job? It appears difficult to get to but am I right to assume that it will be a quick job once the car is up?

Does anyone have any sugestions as to what I could then do with the starter, for instance is it worth taking it apart? If so, are there any common problems that I should look out for? I am hoping to pick up a Haynes (Bravo) from the library on my way home, if it is not in stock are there any diagrams on the net that I could refer to when dismantling?

If the worst comes to be, how much am I looking at for a new starter? Do I have any options other than a main Fiat dealer?

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

From your symptoms I'd be thinking along the same lines but I'd double check your battery and earth connections and also the connections to the starter motor first. I presume your battery has enough power to actualy make the starter engage.

Sometimes the motor just sticks and taking them out and cleaning out the dust does the trick. Have a look on ePer for a rough guide to price
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I know that it is not good form to reply to your own posts but I will do anyway.

I just called a local Fiat dealer to find the prices and was quoted £326 for a new starter, £130 for reconditioned, both being for parts only. I am staggered by this, does it seem unreasonable to others?


Unreasonable? yes Surprised? No.

I expect you'll get a better deal if you shop around, some auto electrical places can recondition your existing one or there's always a scrappies
fiat prices are said i would check the batterys charge and connections to the starter before buying a new one.
a sticky pinion on the starter can cause the clicking you describe. a low tech solution is to give the starter body a whack with a hammer,to see if it un sticks it.
Thanks for all of the replies so far.

A couple of hours under the car and I am still struggling to remove the starter motor, I still haven't disconnected the second wire.

I have a picture of the starter motor as it currently is (click on image to enlarge):

The nut that I am trying to remove is almost centre picture and is enclosed very tightly by the plastic casing. I have a 14mm socket that will fit in this gap but is too big, and a 13mm which seems too tight. The nut to the right was a 13mm and was a doddle.

Any suggestions as to where I might be going wrong would be very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
HI, I know the post is a bit late, but there is an inhibitor on automatic cars connected to the gear linkage somewhere which prevents you starting the car in gear. Are you sure this is working properly?
Also, the wire in the picture does not need to be removed (and ought to be refitted to aviod confusion) as the small casing part (solenoid) will be fixed the the motor. The left nut should also need a 13mm socket, but as the thread is slightly longer your socket may not have a long enough reach. If so you should try removing the socket from the wrench and putting it on the nut by hand just to see it it will go on. This wire is the main wire from the battery.

The top wire (covered by a rubber sheild) should be your soleniod activation wire. This is the wire which receives power from the keyswitch. It might be worth reconnecting your wires and battery and checking if you get power to this wire when in park or neutral and the key in the start position. You will then know for sure if you need to remove the starter.
Many thanks for the responses kjlith.

Good point about the reach on the socket, I think you are right. Looks like a trip to halfords in the morning to get a better one.

As regards the smaller wire, I was following the Haynes manual when I removed this but will heed your advice and reconnect for now, then see what happens if and when I get the other nut off.

Thanks again.
As the autos age this might come up more and more. Having an auto like this I wouldn't mind a comprehensive troubleshooting guide as a FAQ on this site....

( hint )
Ok, after almost three hours in the rain (that third bolt really is a pig to get to), I have the starter motor in front of me.

I am planning to take it apart, is there anything I should be cautious of? (eg, is it loaded with a spring etc?)

Thanks in advance.
I wouldn't take it apart at this stage. An electrician would test the solenoid and starter now by putting a battery power 12v across the starter terminals and see if that's working and then test the solenoid for operation by putting 12v across that. Find out more about what's wrong, if anything

You may have already "fixed" the problem by freeing the solenoid and all it might need is a clean off and putting back.

Taking it to an auto electrician/garage now to be tested would be the best advice. Messing with batteries and jump leads is precarious
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I didn't take it to an auto electrician, we are without transport at all at the moment and there is nothing within reasonable walking distance. My car (a six month old Galaxy) broke down on the Continent last week and is still being repaired - great start to the year!

I dismantled the starter motor and all of the gears seemed to be intact and in place, and it didn't seem overly dirty inside. Odd that I couldn't find a spring though, I am sure that last time I took one of these apart, albeit on an Orion maybe 15 years ago, there was a large spring. Should there have been a spring inside? Could this be the problem?

Anyhow, I reassembled the motor, refitted it, and the problem was still there. A loud clicking from the starter motor and nothing else. Presumably this clicking indicates that the starter terminals are fine?

I am minded now to get a replacement starter motor, I have found a breaker that will supply a used one for around £40 with a 60 day warranty.

Before I do this, given the symptoms that I have described, could the problem possibly be something other than the starter motor?

Thanks for all of the advice received to date, any other advice would be gratefully received.
The "quick succession of clicks" that you mentioned at the start show that some power is getting to the starter solenoid but that's just the sort of sound it makes if there isn't enough power eg low battery or poor battery earth connections. Pamper me and redo your battery connections and redo check the battery has a good earth contact to the engine as it's a common problem and will cause all your symptoms.

If all of that is ok then I'd check the battery cranking power by putting a multi meter across the battery terminals while someone turned the ignition key to the start position
Normal voltage whilst cranking might be expected to be down to 10v but if it's not cranking (as yours isn't) then it proabably won't drop much at all. If the voltage drops right down then the battery is up the duff

I'd check the power to the solenoid by putting one multimeter lead on the small solenoid terminal while someone turned the ignition ket to the start position. Check if you're getting a good 12v to it

If you're not then I'd bypass the ignition key and put power to the solenoid small terminal directly (the smaller terminal under the protective cap). If that made it work then you know it's a problem in the wiring to the solenoid and nothing wrong with the starter. There's a handy remote starter gadget you can buy to help you do this. It's simply a push button switch with leads to attach to the battery and the solenoid to bypass the ignition/starter circuit

Modern starters don't have the meaty bendix spring like starters used to have, it's a bit more subtle and sophisticated than the old "crash starter"
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Many thanks for the expert adavice Deckchair, I now have a list of tasks for tomorrow (as well as another walk to Halfords for a multimeter!).

Sorry to ask a dumb question but:

<i>I'd check the power to the solenoid by putting one multimeter lead on the small solenoid terminal while someone turned the ignition ket to the start position</i>

Where should I put the other multimeter lead? Presumably one of the battery terminals?

As regards the remote starter that you mention, is this the sort of thing that you mean:

Thanks again for taking the time to respond.
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Yep that's the tool. Handy if you need it

Maybe you can do it without the multimeter

Ok jobs for tomorrow.
CHECK FOR BAD BATTERY AND CONNECTIONS (Please do this as your symptoms point to this as well)
Undo clean and refit the battery terminals securely
Follow the battery lead to where it earths on the engine. Undo it, clean it by rough up where it contacts the engine and refit

See if that does the trick No?

Without a multimeter than just put the headlights on and see how much change there is when you put the key to start. If the starter doesn't turn and lights dim badly then battery probem or starter jammed. If no starter action and lights stay bright then either starter broken or bad connections to starter.

If you have a multimeter put the leads across the two battery terminals see what voltage you get 12v minimum i hope. Get someone to turn the key and see what the voltage drop is like. As i said 10v might be normal on an engine that's cranking but for you if the voltage drop is below that then you have a bad battery- No? Stays at 12v ish?

Jump the ignition circuit by using the remote starter you've found (available at most good car shops). Attach one end to the positive battery terminal, other end to the small contact on the solenoid (beneath that rubber protector). Make sure wires are clear of pulleys etc and make contact by pushing in the button. If it works then there's nothing wrong with your starter and solenoid and the fault is in the wiring. No go?

If the solenoid doesn't cick then the solenoid is gone. If the starter doesn't go then the starter has had it.

And you expect overtime payment for working on a sunday?:)
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OK, time to own up. This might gain me some honesty points but it is bound to lose me alot of credibility.

This morning I disconnected the earth and ensured that the connection was clean - this was a job and a half in itself, why hide the connections there? Still no difference.

Before going out and buying a remote starter, I managed to get hold of my brother in law and get him to pay a visit in order to try and jump start the car. I had no confidence that this was going to work since, as per my initial post, the fact that the lights came on without dimming seemed to rule out a battery problem.

Guess what? Started first time!

Another trip to Halfords and, after £48 for a new battery, no problems at all.

A lesson learned.

Many thanks for all of the help offered, and the patience displayed, especially from Deckchair5.

Just glad you got her rolling again. You won't be the first or the last:)
At least it's not an intermittent fault (they're the worst) and your car is nice and reliable again (provided your alternator is charging the battery as it should)

Worth getting a multi meter (they're about a £5 in Maplins) as they save a lot of hard work
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Really pleased on two counts that its going again!

1. Because it was just the known battery issue and that means I don't have to worry overly that my auto will start to disintegrate on me.

2. Because when you can't drive a car you start to get peed off with it ( or I do ) and you might have decided to 'get rid of it' prematurely ( you never know ) and these cars should be run and run until all the bits drop off IMHO as one of the few sleekly beautiful designed FIATs ever made ( along with the Bravo, Barchetta, Spyder and the Coupe ) and deserve to make it to classic status in great numbers.