Merak SS getting hard to start

Belfry

Member
Messages
107
My 1977 Maserati Merak has started to become a bit reluctant to start. The car has electronic ignition (Luminition) and has always been fine until recently.

Despite showing about 12 volts on the dash I need to use a pair of jump leads and a running car to get it to start. Once there is the extra 'oomph' the car starts easily.

I have changed the battery and this worked fine for the first few times, but when I tried to start yesterday I had this issue again. Once started and run for a while the car will start fine.

It's almost as if the car needs more than 12 volts to get started. The engine turns over easily enough without the extra jump lead input, and I wonder if there is some sort of solenoid that needs 12.5 + volts to kick in?

Anyone has something similar?
 

CatmanV2

Member
Messages
40,271
What's the voltage like at idle. Sounds to me like it might be your alternator is not providing enough to keep the new battery charged.

I'd check the voltage with a proper meter at idle. I think checking the alternator might be slightly trickier. I could be utter wrong as well

C
 

conaero

Forum Owner
Messages
32,367
Fuel? E10 can’t be good for such an old car. Check the rubbery parts on the fuel system for swelling.
 

Zep

Moderator
Messages
6,604
I’d check your earth straps. If the resistance is high, the voltage drop when starting might be upsetting your electronic ignition. With the extra current from your jumper battery this would reduce the impact of high resistance, getting you over the line.
 

Belfry

Member
Messages
107
Thank you to everyone for your replies.

The idea of checking the earth straps sounds very logical. I don't suppose anyone knows where they are on a Merak/Bora?
 

Belfry

Member
Messages
107
I will also check the voltage at idle and also at 2,000 rpms.

I haven't put any e10 into the car.
 

Zep

Moderator
Messages
6,604
Thank you to everyone for your replies.

The idea of checking the earth straps sounds very logical. I don't suppose anyone knows where they are on a Merak/Bora?
I don’t, but there is probably at least one from somewhere around the bell housing to the body. You’ll probably have to look from underneath.
 

Phil H

Member
Messages
3,079
Rather than spend time looking for an earth strap it might be quicker to fit another ('universal' ones are readily available) if only as a temporary expedient to aid diagnosis, and as Catman says don't rely on dashboard indication for 12v. After that it's a process of elimination; battery/charging/starter circuits then switchgear/ignition/timing. It's old tech and so much easier to play with than modern stuff.
 
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Oneball

Member
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7,257
When is it showing 12v? If it’s running then there’s an issue with the alternator. If when off a charged battery should be nearer 12.5v than 12.0v.

I’d lean towards an earth issue like others have suggested.
 

philw696

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
17,245
Have you checked to see what your spark looks like at the plug ?
Either removing a plug or using a tester.
If you have fuel and a good spark it should fire easily.
Other basics like a compression test.
Test the coil and check the distributor cap and rotor arm and leads for breaking down.
 

Belfry

Member
Messages
107
When is it showing 12v? If it’s running then there’s an issue with the alternator. If when off a charged battery should be nearer 12.5v than 12.0v.

I’d lean towards an earth issue like others have suggested.
12v on the dash gauge with the ignition on and engine off. I'm not with the car until Saturday and I'll report back once I'm home.
 

Belfry

Member
Messages
107
Rather than spend time looking for an earth strap it might be quicker to fit another ('universal' ones are readily available) if only as a temporary expedient to aid diagnosis, and as Catman says don't rely on dashboard indication for 12v. After that it's a process of elimination; battery/charging/starter circuits then switchgear/ignition/timing. It's old tech and so much easier to play with than modern stuff.
That's a good idea. I can order one from Amazon now for when I'm home at the weekend. I know that some cars have several ground straps, so where would you suggest that I connect the new earth strap?

I will report back once I've tried this plan.
 

Belfry

Member
Messages
107
In other words, should I focus on the engine to chassis earthing or the battery to chassis earth?
 
Last edited:

Phil H

Member
Messages
3,079
The chassis just provides an earth path from various electrical components back to the battery -ve. For the purposes of this exercise I would connect the strap between the battery -ve terminal and a convenient bolt on the engine (make sure you get a strap that's long enough); other than the pic below I'm not conversant with the Merak configuration although I'm sure there will be a bolt somewhere that could be used, but:

Make sure that the chosen point on the engine is free of any corrosion, paint, or other contaminants.
Route the strap well away from any moving parts such as belts or pulleys and secure it as best you can.
Avoid contact with LT or HT ignition leads.

If the starting problem persists with the new earth strap then you can start to look for other causes. It's a process of elimination of which this is the first step, so be methodical and never discount the obvious! I'm sure you'll find it eventually.

91891
 

Phil H

Member
Messages
3,079
I'd prefer a fixed earth strap, but if you use a jumplead make sure it's good quality copper one and not the cheap alloy type.
 

Belfry

Member
Messages
107
Just got home (following a blow out on a front tyre on the QPV on the A1 this morning!).

I started by checking and cleaning the battery to chassis ground cables. No improvement.
Then I checked the connections on the ignition coils and electronic ignition wires. Then I noticed that one of the (2) coils had oil filling the hole for the push in connector on the top.

I’m not really sure how an ignition coil works but my googling seems to show that ignition coils are filled with oil and that they can leak oil when the start to break down.

I’m hoping that replacing the coil will fix the starting issue.

The coil was a Lucas with 0754 stamped on the bottom. I’m struggling to find a replacement at the moment so and help on locating a replacement would be very welcome.
 

Zep

Moderator
Messages
6,604
Just got home (following a blow out on a front tyre on the QPV on the A1 this morning!).

I started by checking and cleaning the battery to chassis ground cables. No improvement.
Then I checked the connections on the ignition coils and electronic ignition wires. Then I noticed that one of the (2) coils had oil filling the hole for the push in connector on the top.

I’m not really sure how an ignition coil works but my googling seems to show that ignition coils are filled with oil and that they can leak oil when the start to break down.

I’m hoping that replacing the coil will fix the starting issue.

The coil was a Lucas with 0754 stamped on the bottom. I’m struggling to find a replacement at the moment so and help on locating a replacement would be very welcome.
I think you have it.

I’d talk to the people at https://www.lucasignition.com/product-category/coils/12v-coils/ they will be able to identify which one you have.