I have a sluggish starter

September 1, 2016 | By Staff


In one of your articles some time ago, you mentioned solving a slow starter problem on a 1940 Packard. My 1940 Packard 120 starter just doesn’t have the power to spin the engine over as it should. The car is six-volt, the starter has been rebuilt, connections are bright and clean, cables are correct and new, and the battery is new. Do you have an answer based on your experience? It just seems the starter system has a design flaw.


There is no design flaw in as much as many pre-war six-volt cars have that lazy, almost won’t start feeling, especially if they have been driven recently and the engine is warmed up. When you shut those old cars off after they are thoroughly warmed up, the engine gets even hotter for a half-hour or so because there is no coolant circulating through the radiator and no fan, and in that situation, the engine acts temporarily as a heat sink.

A post-war three-brush six-volt Packard starter will wake that engine up considerably. I bought one at a swap meet for my 1940 Packard 110 and it has worked like a charm. The secret—as you probably know—on any six-volt system is to keep all the connections clean and bright. I also add auxiliary ground wires on such things as the gas gauge sending unit and the lights just to be on the safe side.