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Remote Starter Solenoid
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Solve hot-start problems by installing a remote starter solenoid

Headers are a great addition to any V8 Chevrolet but they also generate large amounts of heat in the engine compartment. One component that is specifically affected by this heat is the stock GM starter solenoid. Because of its location on the starter, it is very close to the headers. The heat can cause problems starting your car. Most of the time all you need to do is wait and let the solenoid cool down and the problem goes away. However, this can be annoying and embarrassing and in the long run will kill the solenoid altogether.

While starter heat shields help the problem, they don't solve it. The best solution to the problem is to relocate the starter solenoid to some other location under the hood, away from the heat of your exhaust system. You obviously can't move the stock solenoid from a GM starter but you can use a separate, remote solenoid like on a Ford, to control the GM solenoid. Here's how and why it works: On the GM solenoid, the winding is fed through a resistive lead to the starter from the switch key, which results in less than the 12 volts being applied across the solenoid winding. As the current in the lead increase so does the voltage drop on the lead going to the GM solenoid winding, resulting in less voltage at the solenoid winding, giving less than satisfactory operation. So, the bottom line is, when the unit gets hot, it draws more current in the lead from the switch to the solenoid winding resulting in less voltage across the solenoid activation coil. So the solenoid does not close the contact to the starter motor nor does it engage the pinion gear. The Ford solenoid, when installed, solves this problem by applying the full battery voltage across the GM solenoid activation winding, resulting in positive operation of the solenoid, pinion gear and rotation of the starter motor.

Installing a Ford solenoid is very simple and inexpensive. All the parts you need are available from your local auto parts dealer, and it will only take a few hours to complete the installation. Total costs will be about $15. Summit Racing Equipment Mail Order has packaged this as a kit (#SUM-G1750). However, the last time I checked it costs $24.95 + shipping, plus it wires it in such a way that will not work on a modern, high-torque mini-starter. Originally I had my older starter wired that way but while it worked with the older-style starter, when I added a high-torque mini-starter, I found that the starter would stay engaged for about a second after I released the key. The problem was that the new, permanent magnet starters don't disengage the bendix properly with the jumper setup because it cuts off the power not only to the "S" terminal but also the main battery terminal. What I did was revise the wiring to simulate the original setup. Using the diagram below will still send a full 12V to the "S" terminal on the starter solenoid.

You will need:
  • some 12-gauge wire
  • 2 solderless connectors
  • 1 heavy battery cable
  • 1 Ford style starter solenoid (from a full-sized, V8 equipped car like an LTD)
  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2. Remove the battery cable from the battery terminal on the GM solenoid.
  3. Remove the ignition wires from the smaller "S" terminal on the GM solenoid.
  4. Install the Ford solenoid in the remote location of your choice.
  5. Use a length of the 12-gauge wire and the two solderless connectors to connect the "B" terminal of Ford solenoid to the "S" terminal on the GM solenoid. This is how the full 12 volts from the battery will be applied to the "S" terminal of the GM solenoid.
  6. Connect the positive battery cable to the "A" terminal of the Ford solenoid.
  7. Use the new additional battery cable to connect the same "A" terminal of the Ford solenoid to the battery terminal on the GM solenoid.
  8. Connect the wire lead from the small "S" terminal of the GM solenoid to the "S" terminal of the Ford solenoid.
  9. Re-connect the negative battery cable.
Stock Stock Ford Solenoid Ford Solenoid

The headers on my Nova would kill a starter in about three of four months. I bought a starter heat shield to help the problem but the starters would only last about a year. I installed this Ford style solenoid with a new starter and the heat shield in my Nova back in August of 1993. I have not had to replace the starter since and I have never had a problem starting. In August of 2004 I finally replaced my starter. Not because I had to but because I purchased a new-style, high-torque, mini-starter that was much lighter. I did not reuse the heat shield because I found it to just get in the way when trying to install the starter and connect the wires.

Some other benefits of doing this project:
  • The starter can be installed/removed easier because the wires for the starter can be disconnected at the Ford solenoid instead of at the starter itself.
  • The "A" terminal makes a great battery connector for things like an MSD box or aftermarket driving lights, especially if you have trunk mounted the battery.
  • You can easily connect a hand held switch for "bumping" the engine over while setting valve lash or checking compression.

The diagram below is an alternate method to accomplish the same thing however this uses a 30A relay instead of a Ford solenoid and it keeps all the factory connections at the starter solenoid.

Alternate Method Alternate Method Alternate Method

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Main Page Copyright 2001 Scott Windle Created on: 12/09/98 Updated on: 08/01/04