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Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry!
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Charlo
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:29 am    Post subject: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

Hello Samba,
I've perused several posts on this subject, and haven't found one that deals directly with my situation, so here goes:
I have a '69 Beetle, 1600cc dual port/dual relief. It has been totally ground-up restored (save a paint job), including professionally rebuilt engine, transaxle, and yes - starter too. It has been completely rewired as well - and started up on the very first attempt (at break in). There are less than 100 miles on it. I've now driven it about 6 times.
Two days ago, after a quick spin, I parked it - and after 5 minutes, when going to re-start it - came the infamous starter click. After checking connections, and testing the battery (also new),
I walked away. Yesterday morning, it started right up. This morning, it started right up.
The only thing not replaced in the electrical system - the ignition switch...
So, after this long discourse - may an ignition switch "glich" be a cause of this one time non-starting issue? If so, where might I get a high-quality replacement ignition switch? (And in doing so, would I then need to get someone to re-fit it so I can use my existing [ignition-door-deck lid] key?)
After this complete rebuild, I sure would like to "cover it in front" and lessen the probability of this happening again...
Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
You all have been amazing guidance during my long restoration process.
Thank you, Samba!
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:36 am    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

The easy way to track if the problem is in vehicle wiring/switch or is in starter, is proceed a direct jump between permanent live (+) and switch live (small wire that came from switch).

You can do this undercar, very easy..with a screwdriver.

Sometimes is just switch wire that is loose or with rust..
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:46 am    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

Just fixed that on mine. Knowledgable friend decided it was the brushes in the starter that were going bad. Depending on where the starter stoped in its rotation, it would either work (most of the time) or not. Bumping it, either by rolling then bumping the clutch, or tapping it with a hammer would get it going again temporarily.

New starter seems to have completely fixed the problem.

Was your 'new' starter a rebuild?
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

Also helps to clean the grounds, and on any connection use some dielectric grease to seal out water and oxygen for corrosion free connections for about ten or more years. Battery clamps are the one exception, needing to be cleaned at least once a year even when greased up.

Even the surfaces between the transaxle and starter, plus the starter solenoid and starter body need to be cleaned and dielectric greased up. Electrical flow actually comes from the ground post of the battery, so both the positive and negative connections equally need to be gone thru.

While checking the starter brushes (in the standard starter with rear bushing in the transaxle) to see they are longer than the cages they sit in, ALSO check that the bushing in the front of the starter is not worn. Easier to replace the bushing with the starter out now than to have to pull it out and apart again.
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Last edited by Eric&Barb on Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:15 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Eric&Barb
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

Hopefully you have Wolfsburg West battery cables with the BRASS battery clamps soldered onto the cables. Cheap FLAPS battery cables have the battery clamps made of cheap lead swedged onto the cables, and the battery acid that is sweated out of the battery can work into the connections between the cables and battery clamp. While that can not happen with soldered connections. While the WW cables are more expensive, they will last four or five times longer if one does not over tighten the brass clamps.

If you have those battery clamps that are clamped onto the old cables after hacking off the original battery clamps. That will always collect battery acid and corrode up, making for another place you have to take apart to clean once or twice a year.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

Test the starter then test the ignition switch.

Starter test:
    Lift the rear seat.
    Find the #50 heavy gauge red wire that runs from the left side of the car to the center tunnel just above the steel brake line. There is a junction in the wire just before it exits.
    Separate the wires at this junction.
    Put the transmission in neutral and set the parking brake.
    Take the end of the red wire that exits next to the center tunnel and hold it to the battery positive terminal. (If its not long enough use your battery jumper cables) The engine should begin cranking.
    Test this a few times to make sure the battery has the power to crank the engine.

If this cranked the engine each time you have a good starter and the battery is strong enough to crank the engine.


Ignition switch test:
    Using a voltmeter set to read DC voltage in the 12v range, test the end of the other #50 red wire coming from the left side of the car.
    (I have found that sometimes it is not possible to get consistent voltage readings while holding the VM probe to the end of the #50 wire. You may need to use alligator clips or a vice grip plier to get a solid connection. Just make sure nothing shorts the wire to ground. Wrap everything in a rag.)
    This wire come from the ignition switch and should have battery voltage (~12.6v) when the ignition key is turned to the START position.
    Test the switch 10x.

If the voltage is much less than 12.6v or is intermittent, suspect the ignition switch is going bad.
A low voltage condition could be due to dirty wires/connections. Clean up wire ends between the ignition switch and the rear seat and retest.


If you have an OE VW ignition switch, consider carefully taking it apart to clean the internal contacts. This will have much longer electrical lifespan than any aftermarket ignition switch you can find today (though, a 50yr old switch could fail from pure age/wear).

Your other option is to find a New Old Stock (NOS) ignition switch for your car. Expect to pay $$$ since they are no longer made.

The last option is to use a new aftermarket switch but add relays immediately after the ignition switch to take the load. The aftermarket switches die because their contact area is much smaller than stock. These small contacts get burnt and quickly start to interfere with proper current flow.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

ashman40 wrote:
Test the starter then test the ignition switch.

Starter test:
    Lift the rear seat.
    Find the #50 heavy gauge red wire that runs from the left side of the car to the center tunnel just above the steel brake line. There is a junction in the wire just before it exits.
    Separate the wires at this junction.
    Put the transmission in neutral and set the parking brake.
    Take the end of the red wire that exits next to the center tunnel and hold it to the battery positive terminal. (If its not long enough use your battery jumper cables) The engine should begin cranking.
    Test this a few times to make sure the battery has the power to crank the engine.

If this cranked the engine each time you have a good starter and the battery is strong enough to crank the engine.


Ignition switch test:
    Using a voltmeter set to read DC voltage in the 12v range, test the end of the other #50 red wire coming from the left side of the car.
    (I have found that sometimes it is not possible to get consistent voltage readings while holding the VM probe to the end of the #50 wire. You may need to use alligator clips or a vice grip plier to get a solid connection. Just make sure nothing shorts the wire to ground. Wrap everything in a rag.)
    This wire come from the ignition switch and should have battery voltage (~12.6v) when the ignition key is turned to the START position.
    Test the switch 10x.

If the voltage is much less than 12.6v or is intermittent, suspect the ignition switch is going bad.
A low voltage condition could be due to dirty wires/connections. Clean up wire ends between the ignition switch and the rear seat and retest.


If you have an OE VW ignition switch, consider carefully taking it apart to clean the internal contacts. This will have much longer electrical lifespan than any aftermarket ignition switch you can find today (though, a 50yr old switch could fail from pure age/wear).

Your other option is to find a New Old Stock (NOS) ignition switch for your car. Expect to pay $$$ since they are no longer made.

The last option is to use a new aftermarket switch but add relays immediately after the ignition switch to take the load. The aftermarket switches die because their contact area is much smaller than stock. These small contacts get burnt and quickly start to interfere with proper current flow.


The red wire mentioned should have a black tracer on it. That designates it from a full battery hot wire, which would be solid red, no tracer, 30 circuit.

Just wanted to help you in finding it.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

VW_Jimbo wrote:
The red wire mentioned should have a black tracer on it. That designates it from a full battery hot wire, which would be solid red, no tracer, 30 circuit.


I think he means distinguishes
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

Cusser wrote:
VW_Jimbo wrote:
The red wire mentioned should have a black tracer on it. That designates it from a full battery hot wire, which would be solid red, no tracer, 30 circuit.


I think he means distinguishes


Depends on perspective.

dis·tin·guish, according to Google dictionary means to “Learn to pronounce” or
“recognize or treat (someone or something) as different.”

des·ig·nate, again Google, means to “appoint to a specified position.”

I would use designate. Root word being “design”. So by “ design” that wire with a black tracer is different from the solid red wire.
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nshaddox wrote:
Plus I tend to prefer these impossible projects that take way too much time. There’s no thrill in easy projects. Challenges are fun.

67rustavenger wrote:
GFY's Xevin and VW_Jimbo! Smile


Last edited by VW_Jimbo on Wed Nov 04, 2020 8:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:57 am    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

Something to consider; Easy quick way to test if you have a worn tumbler:

Disassemble and remove tumbler/switch from housing
Reassemble, hook up wiring
Use key, turn ignition

If car starts you either have a worn tumbler or switch.

I had an aftermarket tumbler and switch in mine. The tumbler was very worn and not "articulating" the switch enough to allow a good contact and allow the car to start.

here is how I tested it:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2020 6:35 am    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

bp03 wrote:
Something to consider; Easy quick way to test if you have a worn tumbler:
<...>
here is how I tested it:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

If you replaced the tumbler portion of the ignition switch assembly and encountered the above then I would agree the tumbler would be the culprit as the most recent thing changed.


Another member recently posted they replaced the electrical portion and had a similar problem. They could crank the engine with the switch outside the housing, but once installed the (old) tumbler limited the range of motion and prevented the START position from working. They opened up the (new) electrical switch and bent the contacts to fix the issue. This illustrates the lower quality of the aftermarket switches available today.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2020 7:55 am    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

ok...starters for dummies version....if you turn the key and get nothing...jack up the car (with all necessary safety precautions) and hook a test light to the push on terminal with the big red wire...have someone turn the key...does the light come on but the starter doesnt crank? if so, good you have juice to the starter through the key circuit...now use a screwdriver and short between the push on terminal and the nut where the battery cable bolts on...does it crank? then starter is "good"...its just not getting enough juice through the key circuit to engage it ....time for a starter booster relay/solenoid....plenty of threads on hooking these up...just because a starter is "new" doesnt mean it may not require a bit of extra juice to get it to kick in...i mean, define new...NOS bosch?...rebuilt by bosch themselves on a german core?...new bosch made in mexico? maybe china? auto zone rebuild? rebuild by some local guy? new chinese copy? etc etc etc...sometimes its a lot easier to just throw in a relay then to get to the real root of the problem
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

Hello again,

I am so grateful for your many helpful, and insightful responses to my inquiry!
I've printed them all out to use a form of a checklist. Electrical testing and analyzing is far away from my strong point -
so I will methodically go through your suggestions and see what I can figure out.

For now, I can tell you this:
The starter was rebuilt by a local professional that specializes in rebuilding starters and generators, so yes, it does have new brushes. (Off hand, I cannot recall if it is OG starter or otherwise).
And since the car has been completely rewired, I don't a red wire with a black tracer. I will go through the schematic that came with my wiring kit and figure it out...
I have a sense the the ignition switch/tumbler is bad. My car did not start again today, and I did notice a bit of play in the switch.
And I will replace the FLAPS positive battery cable (even though it's new) with a quality brass soldered one (as suggested). Cover all my bases!

Again, extremely grateful for your assistance!
Thank you, Samba!
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

FlyAU98 wrote:
Just fixed that on mine. Knowledgable friend decided it was the brushes in the starter that were going bad. Depending on where the starter stoped in its rotation, it would either work (most of the time) or not. Bumping it, either by rolling then bumping the clutch, or tapping it with a hammer would get it going again temporarily.

New starter seems to have completely fixed the problem.

Was your 'new' starter a rebuild?


This is exactly the same issue I am having with my starter, to where I simply keep a hammer in the car and if the starter clicks I crawl under and bang on it a few times and it starts up, every.... single...... time.
My original Bosch starter lasted over 40 years. I replaced it with this rebuilt Cardone (Duralast) starter from AutoZone a few years ago, and it is already failing. Lesson learned.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2020 7:07 am    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

the "local guy who rebuilds starters and alternators" know what they're doing but generally put the least amount of new stuff into their product either due to lack of availability from their sources and/or in a attempt to be price competitive... the same goes for sources like cardone...most of the time their product is the equivalent of a good used starter with a fresh coat of paint...but once again it may still work just fine if you add a booster relay instead of spending over 150 for a bosch
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2020 9:28 am    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

sb001 wrote:

This is exactly the same issue I am having with my starter, to where I simply keep a hammer in the car and if the starter clicks I crawl under and bang on it a few times and it starts up, every.... single...... time.


Have you tried cleaning and dielectric greasing the grounds between the starter body/transaxle, and starter body/solenoid body??
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2020 10:03 am    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

Eric&Barb wrote:
sb001 wrote:

This is exactly the same issue I am having with my starter, to where I simply keep a hammer in the car and if the starter clicks I crawl under and bang on it a few times and it starts up, every.... single...... time.


Have you tried cleaning and dielectric greasing the grounds between the starter body/transaxle, and starter body/solenoid body??


This is a bad idea. Just clean the metal up and leave it dry. Paint it after assemble, if you need to protect it.

No car manufacturer or rebuilder in the industry utilizes dielectric grease for this point of continuity. The grease will allow dirt and road debris to attach to it. This can lead to moisture entering into regions that are not designed for moisture. Some components are designed to breathe. They allow air in and out. The moisture follows along, as long as the vent is not blocked (with grease).

Plus if the crap that gets stuck to the grease become heavy enough, it will fall off or into the component being protected. All kinds of rapid destruction happens then! Been in a few starter motors with this exact scenario to blame for their demise.

You can clean those parts till they are shiny and reassemble, to see if there is a difference. If so, chase that issue. Sometimes it turns out that the interior strands of the negative battery cable are full of corrosion!
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There is never enough time to do it right the first time, but all the time necessary the second time!
nshaddox wrote:
Plus I tend to prefer these impossible projects that take way too much time. There’s no thrill in easy projects. Challenges are fun.

67rustavenger wrote:
GFY's Xevin and VW_Jimbo! Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2020 10:57 am    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

VW_Jimbo wrote:

This is a bad idea. Just clean the metal up and leave it dry. Paint it after assemble, if you need to protect it.


Plenty of folks have had grease/gear oil/dirt/sand covered transaxles and front suspensions for decades and find that they are in great shape after the coating is removed. Bigger problem is keeping water out which by capillary action gets sucked in between the metal parts due to the ever so slight crack between them. Grease does this very well. Oil lamp wicks use same capillary action to move oil/kerosene uphill against gravity, that is how strong it is.

If you do not like using the grease still, then use a sealant between those points as VW proscribed in the shop manuals. Either way we are talking a tiny amount used.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2020 11:44 am    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

I guess I could try the sealant (if VW recommends it) and see if it works. IMO it's simply a manufacturing defect, what you get when you pay $50 for a Cardone rebuilt.
Back when I had a 1999 Maxima, I had an issue with the immobilizer system where it would not allow me to start the car, it would just crank- I thought it was the starter so I went to O Reilltys and bought a remanufactured house brand starter, and left it on after I got the real problem fixed only to have it flake out on me 3 months later. I swapped it at the store for another which did the same exact thing. I had already thrown out the original Nissan starter so I went to the salvage yard and picked up another original, and compared the two- come to find out the O Reillys house brans only had 10 teeth on it where the original Nissan had 11, so the house brand was slipping on the gear teeth whenever it started up and burned the solenoid out.
So this is strike two on remanufactured starter from the FLAPS, I'll try your suggestion but there won't be a strike 3.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2020 6:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Yep, yet another "starter clicks" inquiry! Reply with quote

Eric&Barb wrote:
VW_Jimbo wrote:

This is a bad idea. Just clean the metal up and leave it dry. Paint it after assemble, if you need to protect it.


Plenty of folks have had grease/gear oil/dirt/sand covered transaxles and front suspensions for decades and find that they are in great shape after the coating is removed. Bigger problem is keeping water out which by capillary action gets sucked in between the metal parts due to the ever so slight crack between them. Grease does this very well. Oil lamp wicks use same capillary action to move oil/kerosene uphill against gravity, that is how strong it is.

If you do not like using the grease still, then use a sealant between those points as VW proscribed in the shop manuals. Either way we are talking a tiny amount used.


No sealants are prescribed for such mounting points. If you know of one and have documentation to support it, I would love to research it.

If they did use anything, you think that it would be used on the battery terminals. But nothing. Well, at least on the cars I have and have seen.
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There is never enough time to do it right the first time, but all the time necessary the second time!
nshaddox wrote:
Plus I tend to prefer these impossible projects that take way too much time. There’s no thrill in easy projects. Challenges are fun.

67rustavenger wrote:
GFY's Xevin and VW_Jimbo! Smile
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