How To Test The Starter Motor (1995-1999 3.1L V6 Chevrolet Lumina, Monte Carlo)

How To Test The Starter Motor (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 3.1L V6 Chevrolet Lumina, Monte Carlo)

This tutorial will help you to test the starter motor on the 1995-1999 3.1L Chevrolet Lumina (Monte Carlo).

You'll also be able to find out if the starter motor is not functioning due to a problem with your vehicle's anti-theft system (PASS-Key II System).

In Spanish You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar El Motor De Arranque (1995-1999 3.1L V6 Chevrolet Lumina, Monte Carlo) (at:


Symptoms Of A Bad Starter Motor

The most common symptoms of a bad starter motor are:

  • You turn the key to crank the car and the engine does not turn over (crank).
  • A jump start does not help. The vehicle's engine still refuses to crank.
  • The battery has been charged and/or replaced and still the vehicle does not crank.
  • Turn the key to start the car (or mini-van) and all you hear is a small knock and nothing else.

Although the above list is a not a very complete list of symptoms, the theme that runs thru' them, and any other related symptom, is that the engine will not turn over when the key is turned to crank and start the engine.

Important Tips And Suggestions

TIP 1: Place the vehicle on jack stands. Don't trust the jack to keep the vehicle raised!

TIP 2: Perform all tests in this tutorial with a cold engine. If the engine has been running for any length of time, let it cool down completely before starting the tests.

TIP 3: Check and clean the battery cable terminals (the ends that connect to the battery posts) before starting the tests.

If you see any corrosion on the cable ends, clean them and check to see if this solves the engine's no-crank problem.

TIP 4: The battery must be fully charged to test the starter motor.

If the battery is not fully charged, you'll end up getting a false test result and this will have you wasting time and money replacing parts your vehicle does not need and that won't solve the problem.

TIP 5: This is an on-car starter motor test. No need to remove it to test it. If you do need to bench test it, see this tutorial: How To Bench Test A Starter Motor (Step by Step).

What Is The PASS-Key II Anti-Theft System?

In a nutshell, the PASS-Key II system (PASS = Personal Automotive Security System) is an anti-theft system designed to disable the starter motor and the fuel injectors unless a key with a specific electrical resistance is used in the steering column ignition switch.

PASS-Key II system failures, especially with the ignition key and ignition switch, are very very common and behind a good majority of 'the starter motor does not crank the engine' problems.

How can you tell if the PASS-Key II system is activated and disabling the starter motor and fuel injectors? By checking the status of the 'SECURITY' light in the instrument panel.

To be bit more specific, if a PASS-Key II failure occurs that disables the starter motor and fuel injectors, you'll see:

  • The 'SECURITY' light will illuminate and stay illuminated for 3 minutes after trying to crank the engine and leaving the key in the RUN position.
  • The 'SECURITY' light will flash when turning the key to the 'RUN' position.

Although this tutorial focuses on testing the starter motor, it will help you troubleshoot the anti-theft relay and find out if it (or the PASS-Key II system) is behind your starter motor's no-crank problem.

TEST 1: Applying 12 Volts To The S Terminal

Applying 12 Volts To The S Terminal. How To Test The Starter Motor (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 3.1L V6 Chevrolet Lumina, Monte Carlo)

The very first test we're gonna' do is to apply 12 Volts directly to the S terminal of the starter motor solenoid (with a remote start switch connected to the battery positive (+) terminal).

If you need to see what a remote start switch looks like, you can see it and buy it here: Actron CP7853 Remote Starter Switch For 6V And 12V Automotive Starting Systems.

IMPORTANT: Remove the key from the ignition switch before starting this test. This will prevent the engine from starting, in case the starter motor is OK.

This is what you'll need to do:

  1. 1

    Raise the front of the vehicle and place it on jack stands.

  2. 2

    Connect one end of the remote start switch to the S terminal of the starter motor solenoid.

  3. 3

    Connect the other end of the remote start switch to the battery positive (+) terminal.

  4. 4

    Apply 12 Volts (to the S terminal of the starter solenoid).

  5. 5

    You'll see one of two results:

    1.) The starter will activate and crank the engine.

    2.) The starter motor won't do a thing.

Let's take a look at what your test results mean:

CASE 1: The starter motor cranked the engine. This means that the starter motor is good and that you have another issue keeping the starter motor from cranking the engine.

Possible culprits are:

  • A bad ignition switch.
  • A bad neutral safety switch.
  • A blown fuse.
  • A problem with the Pass-Key II System (anti-theft system).

Don't worry, we're not done yet with our troubleshooting tests. The next test is: TEST 2: Testing The Starter Solenoid 'S' Signal.

CASE 2: The starter motor DID NOT crank the engine. This usually means that your starter motor is bad and needs to be rebuilt or replaced.

I suggest one more test and this is to test the battery cable (that attaches to the starter motor solenoid) for corrosion. This can be accomplished very easily with a voltage drop test. Go to: TEST 3: Voltage Drop Testing The Battery Wire.