I've got my 1964 Coupe DeVille that I keep tucked away in storage most of the time but wanted to start it up to clean it up before winter sets in.  The batter was sluggish, as usually is the case, so I used my portable jump starter and it started right up.  Drove it for about 10 minutes and then spent an hour cleaning it up, went to start it to take it back into the garage and the engine wouldn't turn over.  Not even a click.  I hooked the jump starter back up and nothing.  My neighbor came over and noticed I've got a leaky valve cover gasket and oil was maybe dripping down onto the starter connections... This morning I put it on jack stands, disconnected the cable from the solenoid, cleaned the connection up, hooked things back up, reattached the battery cables to the battery - nothing.  No click.  The lights and all other electricals in the car are working fine and the battery seems to be holding a charge.  Just doesn't seem like any power is getting to the starter.  The car has 60K original miles and runs strong, never have had a problem with it starting.

Any ideas??  Sure appreciate anybody's directions or advice.

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I'm thinking the starter motor might gone to lunch.

As Kevin said a faulty starter, but before you replace the starter replace the grounding wire. Most of the times its just faulty ground. If you replace also increase size of wire and put some copper paste to create good contact.

Thanks Anders,  I'm wondering if the ground wire you're talking about is the smaller wire that is connected to the solenoid...?  I'm not even sure where that wire originates?  But good thinking.  I'll see if I can get that figured out so I can check it.

Clean and reclamp the battery wires on both ends. Then jump the starter to see if it spins.  Get a remote starter for the safest way.  If it spins, see if the ignition switch is sending power to the starter.

Scot, Are you sure it is firmly in gear? The neutral safety switch will not allow the car to start if not in Park or Neutral. Sometimes the switch is a bit off and you might have to really jamb it into park or move back to Neutral. Might not be your problem but can prevent the car from starting. You can disconnect the connector at the NSS and jumper between the blue and purple wire to test and/or bypass the NSS feature.  Other than that check that big fat ground strap from RH frame rail over to starter, and the wires running down to starter. If one came in contact with the exhaust manifold during your test run it may have burned in two.

For a more detailed explanation on cranking see writeup below:

1963/64 Cadillac Cranking System
You have a positive cable from battery to the large bolt on the starter solenoid, a yellow wire from the (R) side of solenoid to the ignition coil, and a dark blue wire from the (S) side of solenoid to the Neutral Safety Switch, which in turn is fed by the purple(violet) wire from the ignition switch. The blue and purple cranking circuit is closed when the shift selector is in Park or Neutral, and open in any drive gear in order to prevent cranking the car in gear.

With ignition switch turned to far right cranking position, the purple wire feeds the 12 volts to the blue wire at the neutral safety switch which feeds the starter, and the yellow wire provides a full 12 volts back to the coil for cranking. When you release the switch and have the switch in "run" position,  the voltage to the coil is reduced via to 8 1/2 to 10 1/2 volts since it then is provided current through the resister wire in front of the pink ignition wire under the dash.

One of the most important and overlooked components in the cranking circuit is the large ground strap that runs from the right frame rail over to the large bolt through transmission bell housing to engine and starter. If this is not connected and making good connection your starter will not work.   Check your ground strap and make sure it is making good connection.

If all other wiring is connected correctly, you could also have a bad ignition switch. You can disconnect the large connector on the back of the ignition switch and hot wire the car by connecting the red (battery) to pink (ignition) wire and touching to Purple (starter).  I had a switch go bad on the way to a car show a few years back and made a quick 3 way jumper to hot wire the car. Here is a video showing how simple it is: http://6364cadillac.ning.com/video/hot-wired-ignition-switches

Bypassing the Neutral Safety Switch is just a matter of unplugging the connector with the purple and dark blue wire and jumping the connector.

Jason, I had read your earlier post about the NSS and have been out a couple of times, trying to move the gear lever from park to neutral, then jamming it more firmly up into park... all the while holding the ignition key "on".  Nothing at all.  I'm pretty stumped.  I haven't tried what Russ wrote about, with the ground wire... I wish I were more mechanical than I am.  I've got a lot to learn and feel a little clueless with some of this stuff.  I'm eager to get it running so I can get it moved into the right storage garage.... it's not where it needs to be for the winter.  Thank you...

Had the same problem.  It was corrosion where the negative battery wire clamped to the post terminal.  

All I did was disconnect the wire from the terminal, cut and strip the insulation back to clean copper, reattach the terminal to the clean wire and bingo. Started right up again. 

These are very old cars with very old parts. Best way to keep the electrical system in good order is to keep using the car. Storage is bad for these components because they get damp and oxidize. Usage keeps them warmed up and dries out the moisture.  

Good luck. Keep us posted

Jeff Kinzler

Scot emailed and said it was indeed the NSS. If anyone has a 653 for his 64 with THM & tilt he needs one. 

I think the advise you have received so far should resolve the issue. The problem is basically one of three.

Before you continue make sure your battery is fully charged and can take/deliver power.

  1. If there is no "clicking" sound at all when trying to start - defect NSS, ignition switch or damaged cable from the ignition switch to the starter.
  2. If there is a "clicking" sound when trying to start, but the starter is not turning - most likely poor ground.
  3. Defect starter.

If you want to rule out all in one go:

  • Disconnect primary lead of distributor from coil so engine will not start. (CAUTION: Do not remove high tension lead from coil center for this purpose, as this may damage the coil due to internal arcing).
  • Connect a good battery direct to the starter. Do not use any cables on the car. Only a plus and negative straight from the battery connected directly on the starter. This must be done with care so you don't burn/damage anything. If you want to play it safe, remove the starter and test it separately.

Before you do anything at all: Read page 12-8 to 12-14 in the "bible". Read these pages at least two times.

If you've checked all the things the others have suggested, tap the starter with a piece of wood a few times and see if it wakes it back up.

Did you check the wiring coming from the firewall to the engine? There are plastic clips to disconnect the wires. Sometimes the clips get pulled apart slightly or damaged. 



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