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Thread: Starter turns, but flywheel won't engage

  1. #1
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    Starter turns, but flywheel won't engage

    I'm working on getting my carputer to start/stop my engine. I'm using an arduino to do the job, but that's not important.

    I've never installed a remote start system before so I'm probably missing something. I've just been reverse engineering this thing. I used a multimeter to check what all the ignition wires were doing at every stage of the key turn. To get around the immobilizer, I zip-tied a key to it.

    What I'm at now is: the starter will spin, but the engine never starts. Putting a key in the ignition doesn't fix this. If I put the key in, and turn it past position 2, but not far enough to give the starter power and then I use the arduino, the arduino starts it just fine.

    There is a black tube coming out of the ignition which looks like it could have some kind of pull cord in it. I really think that's what's stopping me. If it is, then what the heck to I do? Any other ideas?
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  2. #2
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    If your car is an auto, the black tube may be a cable/vacuum line that locks/unlocks the key in the cylinder unless it's in park. From the sound of it, you either don't have the immobilizer properly bypassed, or you're just engaging the starter, not actually putting all the car's systems to "on".

    Honestly you'd be better off picking up a proper remote starter, even a used one. Junkyards where I am have tons in the cars, that's all you need (no need to find a matching keyfob).

    Every remote starter I've installed or worked on has a input pin, when grounded or connected to 12v (depends on the model) will cause the remote starter to go through it's starting sequence.

    You don't even really need an arduino for that then, and you'll be using a proven rugged solution.

    Remote starters go on sale in stores here for $30 new, and used ones can be even cheaper. Sure it's nice to make things yourself but I don't think it's worth it for a remote starting system. If the arduino screws up and engages the starter at the wrong time, that will be costly.

  3. #3
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    You have answered your own question in post 1. You are not powering any of the car's electrical systems if you don't put it to pos 2 on the ignition.

    You are merely passing power to the starter, which will turn the starter, and nothing else. You need to emulate pos2 ign with your microcontroller to, so a few extra circuits are needed.

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  4. #4
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    Just to clarify - when you say the starter spins but the flywheel won't engage what do you mean by that? That you hear the starter spin but the engine itself is not turning over OR that you can hear the engine turning over just like if you had turned the key but the car won't start?

    If it is ONLY the starter that is turning, you'll hear just the hum of the starter turning. If it is the engine, then you'll hear the normal noise but the car won't start.

    So, if the car is cranking normally, then I'd agree with what everyone else is saying - you are not powering the car's electrical system and that is probably because the systems that are turned on when the key is in position 2 are not powered.

    I'd also echo what firebat45 said. Feel free to roll your own solution, but it may be easier to use a proven solution to actually start the car. You can always trigger the remote starter with the Arduino if you're doing something unusual.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by firebat45 View Post
    If your car is an auto, the black tube may be a cable/vacuum line that locks/unlocks the key in the cylinder unless it's in park. From the sound of it, you either don't have the immobilizer properly bypassed, or you're just engaging the starter, not actually putting all the car's systems to "on".

    Honestly you'd be better off picking up a proper remote starter, even a used one. Junkyards where I am have tons in the cars, that's all you need (no need to find a matching keyfob).

    Every remote starter I've installed or worked on has a input pin, when grounded or connected to 12v (depends on the model) will cause the remote starter to go through it's starting sequence.

    You don't even really need an arduino for that then, and you'll be using a proven rugged solution.

    Remote starters go on sale in stores here for $30 new, and used ones can be even cheaper. Sure it's nice to make things yourself but I don't think it's worth it for a remote starting system. If the arduino screws up and engages the starter at the wrong time, that will be costly.
    That must be what that black tube is. The immobilizer is bypassed because before, a message would come up on the screen to tell me the start was prevented. So I must be doing something wrong electrically. I don't want to pick up a remote starter because as far as I can see they don't allow me to also kill the engine if it's already on, or just put the car into ACC mode. Eventually I'm not going to have keys in my car and these are necessary features.

    Also, watch out with those cheap remote starters. I looked into them before doing this and there are many stories of them ruining engines. I'm much more comfortable using my own solidly programmed and tested microcontoller that I know won't fail.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbean_phillip View Post
    You have answered your own question in post 1. You are not powering any of the car's electrical systems if you don't put it to pos 2 on the ignition.

    You are merely passing power to the starter, which will turn the starter, and nothing else. You need to emulate pos2 ign with your microcontroller to, so a few extra circuits are needed.

    Have fun!
    I thought I was emulating it properly already. I must have missed something that needed to be on/off though.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bugbyte View Post
    I'd also echo what firebat45 said. Feel free to roll your own solution, but it may be easier to use a proven solution to actually start the car. You can always trigger the remote starter with the Arduino if you're doing something unusual.
    Of course it would be easier, but who likes easy? haha
    In all seriousness, one of the proven solutions wouldn't give me all of the features I'm looking to add.


    I'm gonna go look at it a little more and see whats up.
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  6. #6
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    Turning on ACC would be easy, all you need is a relay. As for turning off the engine, every remote starter can do that. They're usually installed so that if someone breaks into your running car, as soon as they hit the brake the engine shuts off. Most remote starters have options to set up passive or active "starter kill" features, that can also shut the engine down.

    Every failure of a remote starter that I've heard of was due to improper installation/wiring, not the actual unit itself.

    If you've got the immobilizer done, then it must be a missed wire in the igntion. Take a look at the wires that a remote starter hooks up to, usually a couple +12v, a ground or two, one or two IGN wires, and an ACC wire. You might only be turning on one of the IGN wires. Obviously you have the starter hooked up right, if the Arduino works when the key is in run.

  7. #7
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    PaulF, most remote starters have a kill switch so if someone steps on the brake or opens the hood without the key in the ignitiion, it kills the engine. You could tap into that to shut off the car perhaps? That's what I do. Let the remote start handle the dangerous task of starting the car, and just use an arduino to control that.
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  8. #8
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    I've done something very similar. I've created a circuit in my car that will start it from an arduino. At the moment it's hooked up to a GPRS module so I can dial it from any phone and type in a 6 digit code to start it. Pressing any other button at any time kills it. The module has a key inside and uses a transponder bypass module so it 'sees' a key in the ignition without actually needing one in the lock.

    I'm currently working on a way to disconnect it (just for safety) and so I can switch the ignition lines from the car to the remote starter and back without killing the power (a make-before-break setup). That'll be controlled by a hidden button on the dash with an LED to indicate which one is currently 'active'.

    As for other peoples comments about the commercial remote starter, it will save you alot of trouble and custom wiring etc but it will still be operated from your own hardware so although the risk of it going wrong is reduced it is still there.

    I found the actual switching part of the circuit was the easiest...it was the 'intelligence' and working out when and how to start and stop it that was the headache. You've got to run through as many what ifs in your head as you can think off when doing thing and expect everything to fail.

    I think that's the reason we don't see many CarPCs controlling ignition.

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