Reader Question: Intermittent Starting Issue?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Derrick asks: I know you’re into classic Pontiacs so I figured you’d be the guy to ask about a problem I’m having with my ’86 Fiero GT (V6, manual four speed). Sometimes, the starter won’t turn. No click, nothing. And then, after I try again, it will start normally. I replaced the starter so assume it’s not that because I have the same problem with the replacement starter.

My reply: You may not have needed a new starter. I suspect your issue has to do with the clutch safety switch. This gadget is designed to keep you from turning the the starter with the clutch out – and potentially, the transmission in gear.

It’s generally a button that gets depressed (not in the clinical sense) when you push the clutch pedal all the way to the floor. This in turn green-lights the ignition system to rotate the starter when you turn the ignition key.

I’d check this out before you buy another starter!

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  1. What Eric says;
    What Anon says.
    (Iggy switch- or rather the linkage that goes from the key switch to the actual electro-mechanical switch may just need adjusting- or rather, as on many GM’s of that vintage, the position of the switch on it’s mounting may just need a slight nudge)

    But before anything else, I’d check all electrical connections- from the battery terminals to the negative ground, and everything between the starter and the battry. 90% of the time, these things turn out to be a slightly lose or corroded connection in the primary wiring. Just had this issue this week on my tractor…and sure enough, the negative cable end was a tad loose. Drove me nuts, ’cause it’s usually the positive cable that does it!)

  2. I’ve owned an 86 gt v6 4sp for near 20 years. I agree with eric. Switch is located on the clutch pedal. Bypassing it would be an easy way to check if thats the problem. Alternatively i would wd40 the ignition switch. They get dry and do funky things and you do not want to start digging in that saginaw column.
    Check out pennocks fiero forum for service manuals and everything else to know about the fiero. Well built cars for 80s gremlin motors. And for fuck sake dont let mechanics jack it from the rocker panels.


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