2000 Astro Van starter/flywheel problem. Need help

2000 Astro Van starter/flywheel problem. Need help

Postby djdawg321 [OP] » January 13th 2011, 7:32pm

I have a 2000 Astro Van...over 200k miles. About a month ago when starting horrible sounds were heard and then a "whirring" sound which I learned sounded like a bad starter. I replaced the starter and all seemed fine for a few days and then back to the "whirring" sound. After consulting with some friends it was determined that it sounded like a bad starter...the goal was to take it out and take it back for an exchange.

As I'm taking out the second starter bolt (the one closest to the passenger side) I notice that the bolt hole (which believe it or not bolts DIRECTLY INTO THE CAST IRON ENGINE and not a bracket, etc) was broken. Upon further inspection I could see that there was some rust in the crack/break which told me this had been cracked for awhile.

First fix was J.B. Weld....didn't work. I'm assuming the torque that the starter is causing didn't allow that to work.

I was about to give up after calling some welders (all of them telling me it was very difficult to weld) until I ran across a metal fabricator. He fabricated a heavy duty bracket that was bolted on one side using the good bolt/bolt hole, and tapped a hole on the passenger side to hold it there...he used locktite and I drove off thinking everything was great. It has been for about a week...Now today I crawl underneath because last night when I went to start the van, it was back to horrible grinding noises like it did before. This time it sounded like the starter bendix and the flywheel where just banging against each other. As I crawled underneath the bracket he made was still solid and in place however when I tried to remove the "good" bolt from the "good" bolt hole, I was surprised that it came out so easily. It wasn't loose per say but almost....I thought this locktite stuff was supposed to prevent that from happening? As I loosen this bolt, I could tell the starter wasn't completely square against the flywheel and the more I loosened it, the more it seated itself in the correct place. I pulled out the bolt and noticed that it was bent....I had another exact bolt, put locktite on it and rebolted the starter down tight. When I turned the key the van tried to turn over (I haven't started it for a few days and it needs a tuneup so I think that's why it didn't start completely) but then the noise started again and I could tell the starter was out of whack again. I crawled underneath and saw that the starter was again not square...I repeated the process of lossening the bolt and retightening in order to start it...now I think it's flooded so I'm just waiting. I know I can manually hold it in place while my roommate turns the key and get it going but this is not a fix.

Now I"m wondering if there are teeth broken or missing on the flywheel...from what I've been told there is a very small chance of this happening since the flywheel is hardened steel....that the bendix teeth would break first. I don't know what else to do...the design of the bracket seems solid...why something is causingthe starter to move still I don't know. This whole problem would not be happening if Chevy did not have their starter bolts bolt directly into the engine block...for me to replace an engine block would cost more than I bought the van in the first place.

Any thoughts? I'm about to give up and call the junk yard and have it towed away....
Original Poster [OP]
djdawg321
Fueling (1/8 tank)
Fueling (1/8 tank)
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Re: 2000 Astro Van starter/flywheel problem. Need help

Postby Phantom » January 13th 2011, 8:30pm

I have seen some thread repair kits that worked good repairing stripped threads , called Helicoil or something like that , and because the engine blocks and or starter housings are not always machined true flat correctly sometimes shims are needed to line the starter up so that proper clearance is maintained , You can also fabricate an additional bracket to help support the weight of the starter at the rear of starter as some cars have that from factory , 2 bolts up front carries a lot of the weight of the starter which may have caused the problem if someone at some time
cross-threaded the bolt holes up front resulting in the damage you see.

If the starter is misaligned it can cause either starter failure and or flywheel damage , I had a flywheel crack in circle around the mounting bolts on the flywheel in the past requiring a new flywheel . It happened twice because of a misaligned starter . When I see only the 2 bolts holding up the starter, I am inclined to make a support bracket just to add support and take some of the weight of the 2 front bolts , When installing the starter if vehicle is on the ground I will use a hydraulic jack to support the starter's weight as I begin to thread the bolts in place . Once the bolts have started to thread I raise the jack to push the starter up to the block and the tighten the bolts and before fully torqued position the rear support bracket and tighten along with the front 2 bolts , the rear support is attached to the starter by the bolts on the back of starter and then to a good place to attach the other end by bolting it up ,, whether it be the frame or the block or someplace that provides a solid connection point
Phantom
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Re: 2000 Astro Van starter/flywheel problem. Need help

Postby RECox286 » January 13th 2011, 10:08pm

Phantom:
GM used regular and Hi-Torque starter motors. The bracket you are referring to is usually found on the Hi-Torque application. When power everthing became the "in thing" and V-8's had more and more accessories added to them, the Hi-Torque starter gave the extra kick needed to spin everthing during start up. Truth be told, the extra bracket to hold the rear of the starter isn't such a bad idea for any GM starter/engine combination.


DJDAWG:
I have never seen a starter do what you are describing, and there certainly must be a good reason why. Before wasting more fasteners/starters/tapped holes in engine block/flywheel, I think you better at least take the scatter shield off the transmission, and with the starter in place, pry the bendix out and see how it is engaging the ring gear.

Wondering why the starter is breaking loose. Possibly the bendix is too close to the flywheel, and you should shim it out a bit. Were there any parts left over from your first starter change ? The more shims you insert, the more distance there will be between the starter and flywheel. I have seen shim sets in the Help section at the LAPS.

You definitely will want to repair the threads in the engine block. Helicoils or thread repair kits available to machine shops may be strong enough to to the job.

Hope this helps.

Bob
Last edited by RECox286 on January 13th 2011, 10:19pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2000 Astro Van starter/flywheel problem. Need help

Postby Phantom » January 13th 2011, 10:14pm

RECox286 wrote:Phantom:
Truth be told, the extra bracket to hold the rear of the starter isn't such a bad idea for any GM starter/engine combination.
Bob

Yep, that is why I make my own if there is not one already there , extra support does help and helps prevent problems :D
Phantom
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Re: 2000 Astro Van starter/flywheel problem. Need help

Postby djdawg321 [OP] » January 15th 2011, 3:23am

Thanks for your thoughts guys...there were no shims at all when I originally replaced the starter. And I know that when I unbolt the starter and reposition it so it's completely flush against the flywheel hole/area (whatever that correct term is) and then try and start it, it sounds normal and the way it should be so I don't think it's a case of being too close to the starter.

I have since contacted the guy that fabricated the metal bracket and described to him what has happened. I wonder if where the bracket is being bolted into place might be causing the problem. In a normal situation, the starter is held by two bolts that are bolted in vertically...with the bracket the good bolt is still bolted in vertically but there is another bolt that goes through a bracket arm and is bolted horizontally. While it seems like it would hold it into place enough, I wonder if it needs to be hung/bolted vertically in order to eliminate any movement whatsoever?
Original Poster [OP]
djdawg321
Fueling (1/8 tank)
Fueling (1/8 tank)
Years of Membership: djdawg321 has been a member for 3 full yearsdjdawg321 has been a member for 3 full yearsdjdawg321 has been a member for 3 full years
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Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
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