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Starter Relay

Posted by Dan Elkins 
Dan Elkins Avatar
Evansville IN, USA   usa

'74B - 23k miles
She wouldn't start but the starter relay "clicked" once. No change after cleaning all fuse box connections. I was ready to pull my starter for a rebuild or replacement of the solenoid when I consulted my "Your Expert Guide to MGB & MGB/GT Problems and How to Fix Them" by Roger Williams. There I found a trick where you put the ignition to run and connect the c1 and c2 starter relay wires together. She started right up.
My question, before I spend $40 - $80 on a new relay; is there anything else I should check? I know I'm dealing with Lucas electronics but I just can't see how a part with 23,000 miles could be bad.
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rrmgb Avatar
robert schau
Reston, VA., USA   usa
1973 MG MGB
1973 MG MGB

I dont know if that relay can be taken apart and cleaned but its not about the miles so much on electrics,
its the age and corrosion that takes its toll.
RS



"It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time."
Sir Winston Churchill
---------------------------------------------------------------
"It all starts in your mind's eye, then it goes to your heart
and finally to your very soul."
G.S.George PHD
balloonfoot Avatar
Lloyd Faust
Southlake, TEXAS, USA   usa

Dan there are three basic things to check: the starter, the relay and the ignition switch. You checked the starter...it works. Next put a test light on term W1 (white/red wire) and turn the key to 'start'....light go on? if yes and starter no workie...bad relay. Light not go on....check ignition switch connections. Check white/red wire at switch....if it goes on when you turn the switch to start.....check wiring from switch to relay. If no....replace ignition switch.
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74 Bracken B Avatar
Dennis Glass
Vacaville, CA, USA   usa
1974 MG MGB ""Loon""

Dan,

If you're refering to that switch that's mounted on the front inner fender just aft of the fuse block that has 4 wires coming off it, that can be taken apart and cleaned. Pull the relay and look at the bottom, it has little tabs that can be folded back. Pull those up and pull the insides out and you should have a set of points in there. Use some 320-400 grit wet/dry sand paper to clean them up with, get the loose dust out, reassemble and give it a go. I was having similiar symptoms and after cleaning that starter relay I haven't had any problems going on a year+ now.
jdeluke137 Avatar
John English
Jefferson, Georgia, USA   usa
1976 MG MGB

Dan, I believe you can replace that relay with a generic one that will cost you $5 - $7 at the local auto parts store. Here's a link to a thread that will tell you how to hook it up.

http://www.mgexperience.net/phorum/read.php?1,1289130,1289130#msg-1289130



John English
1976 MGB
HIF44 carb on late manifold, Schlemmerized 45D w/Pertronix, Limey's relay kit, solid state voltage stabilizer.


Luke 1:37
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JimTuck Avatar
Jim Tuck
Seattle, WA, USA   usa
1977 MG MGB

Yeah, you can replace it with a generic parts store relay. Mine is the air-con relay for a 90's Jeep Cherokee (generic, $6), and the ignition relay is from the fog light system on 00's BMW (Bosch, $9, had an extra output tab I wanted).
79mgbv8 Avatar
Gil Price
Constable NY, USA   usa
1971 MG MGB GT
1976 MG MGB
1979 MG MGB V8 Conversion "Rumble Bee"

You can buy a replacement relay in Radio Shack 30 amp automotive type and they are even made in UK --cost about 6.00 --been using them for a few years
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Sebring222 Avatar
Jim Dougherty
New Orleans, USA   usa

Dan- I just went through this process. One of the first things I did was to purchase a four post starter relay at NAPA. Very inexpensive. It allowed me to verify that in fact there was nothing wrong with the relay. In my case it happened to be the starter switch in the column. The electrical part was fine, it was the mechanical part where the key mechanism turns the starter switch. The plastic had just fatigued and would no longer function. There is no warning with a failure like this. It's fine one minute and complete inoperable the next which makes it frustrating to diagnose. The starter switch and harness is not difficult to install. Your problem may be completely different but at least it will give you something to consider if you aren't able to quickly diagnose what's wrong.
bernard lanigan
montgomery al, USA   usa
1976 MG MGB "The B"

In reply to a post by 74 Bracken B Dan,

If you're refering to that switch that's mounted on the front inner fender just aft of the fuse block that has 4 wires coming off it, that can be taken apart and cleaned. Pull the relay and look at the bottom, it has little tabs that can be folded back. Pull those up and pull the insides out and you should have a set of points in there. Use some 320-400 grit wet/dry sand paper to clean them up with, get the loose dust out, reassemble and give it a go. I was having similiar symptoms and after cleaning that starter relay I haven't had any problems going on a year+ now.
A new relay at radio shack costs about 6 bucks,,,why screw around with a questionable pos
Mr. Barry Avatar
Edward Wesson
Hiawassee, Georgia, USA   usa

Agree about the generic relay, it's a cheap fix, and based on your description, there's a 90% chance that the problem is the relay. I picked up a 40 amp relay at Parts City, for $5. Don't be afraid of the wiring, as the relays come with a simple wiring diagram....To figure out the correct terminals, set your VOM to "ohms"...Touch the ground tab (clearly marked on the diagram),to the black meter lead, and touch the red to any other tab...The tab that causes the meter to go to "0" is the B+ from the ignition switch, the other two tabs go to the starter...(the ones you shorted when you tested the old relay). Hope this makes sense.



"It's not a car....It's a CAREER!"



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/12/2010 12:13PM by Mr. Barry.
dhartlein Avatar
Dave Hartlein
Suwanee, GA, USA   usa
1980 MG MGB
1991 Volvo 240

Advanced Auto parts - on the shelf, $7.79 with a mounting tab. made in the UK by Dorman. Installed two this weekend when my ignition relay failed. Just match the terminal numbers what you have to what you are installing and connect accordingly. 5 minutes, tops.
bk Avatar
bk Platinum Member
Bill Kiger
Thomasville, NC, USA   usa
1971 MG MGB
1972 MG MGB
1973 MG MGB
1974 MG MGB GT
1974 MG MGB GT

Well the cheapest fix is to take apart the old one and clean the contact points. Unless one of the lead wires has burnt or broken these units are very servicable.
Here is a pic of the inner workings. This one didn't work, ten minuites later it's a working unit now.
Bill

Attachments:
wiring harness 001.jpg (32.5 KB) –
wiring harness 001.jpg

Dan Elkins Avatar
Evansville IN, USA   usa

VICTORY!

Thanks to everyone -- especially Dennis & Bill. I took my relay apart, cleaned and regapped the points inside and the old girl fired right up. And it only cost me a half an hour of work, a scrap of sandpaper and a few spritzes of electrical contact cleaner.

And just in time for a beautiful night ride.

Thanks again;
Dan
74inca02 Avatar
Mike Reinsmith
Pennsylvania, USA   usa

I had the same issue with the starter relay clicking but no start. I've done alot of things in the name of saving a couple bucks, but I wouldn't have thought to open up the relay. Thanks to Dennis, Bill, and Dan, I sanded those 2 tiny, 37-year old contacts and the problem was solved without having to spend hours troubleshooting. Not to mention, I was able to walk out to my garage and get er done at a 11pm without waiting for parts. I love it when a plan comes together! Thanks for the pic too!
Steve Marley
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA   usa
1970 MG MGB

I tried this and appreciate the information. Mine did not work though. Any thoughts on a replacement unit.
Thanks
Nigel Harrison
League City, Texas, USA   usa

I need to reconnect the the four wires. Which posts do they go on?
John Campbell
Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA   usa
1972 MG MGB "Nellie"

Hi Everyone!
I've been through this thread and archives. My 72 MGB will not start, not even a click. New battery. New battery cables. New starter relay. New ignition switch. New alternator. Now I've exhausted LBC budget for the year, and the people at Moss must love me. I've check red/white wire from ignition switch to relay and its intact. Brown wire to ignition switch intact. Brown/white from relay to solenoid is intact. Still cannot get test light to come on with it from red/white wire to W1 on relay when I turn ignition switch to start. What am I neglecting? Anyone's thoughts on this most welcome as I love this little car.
John C
ohlord Avatar
Rob C
North of Seattle, N.W., USA   usa
1971 MG MGB "Bedouin 2"

Bypass the relay entirely and use a jumper wire to the fuse see if the starter turns over

be sure you are in neutral.
If it turns over,turn key to on position and hit the jumper and it should start.



"You take off the roof and the top is the height of the nearest Star"
lewisrn Avatar
Bob Lewis
Danville, Indiana, USA   usa
1980 MG MGB "The "B""

Man, seems like we are surely resurrecting a lot of "zombie" threads lately, but on the bright side, people are using the search function before asking questions.



The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. Mark Twain



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/24/2014 05:25PM by lewisrn.
John Campbell
Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA   usa
1972 MG MGB "Nellie"

Thank you all! And put the zombie thread back to bed!

I did the dumb thing and assumed (we all know the 8th grade shop teacher saying about this word), unwisely, that my starter was ok. I pulled the starter and bench tested. Solenoid worked, but no spinning pinion. Opened up the starter ..... Looked like a totally overdone McD French fry in there.

So, I think I'll buy a new starter!

Again, thank to all . I really enjoy this website and it's fun to read all the posts.
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