Every once in a while when I turn the key in my truck, it just makes a loud screeching noise from somewhere in the engine. Doesn't even feel like its attempting to start. Then I let off the key, and do it again, it usually starts right up like normal. Its usually on cold starts, but today after stopping at a taco stand, it did it for a while. 2nd attempt still made the screeching sound, then on third try it started right up no problem.
My initial thought is that there are some bad teeth on ring gear or starter pinion. I'm thinking about pulling starter to inspect teeth, and looking to find sources/compatibility for both. It's got a J13 with an original 4-speed floor tranny (probably original tranny, as it has original style slave cylinder). If I end up pulling tranny to swap ring gear, might as well get new clutch too.
However, are there any other possible explanations? Could a failing starter motor or solenoid just make screeching sounds like that too? I would think if the pinion were just spinning against chewed up teeth, then I would have to roll the truck a little to get to new teeth. But no, next good start turns easy.
I also can't even tell if its even turning the motor at all when it does the screeching, when I assume it would be shaking it around some as one grinds against the other.
I could easily bench test starter too, but then I figure its probably not going to exhibit issue on bench since its fine for 95% of starts anyways.
Can I use a starter solenoid, pinion, or motor from other years of trucks if necessary? I'm assuming I need 520 parts, and don't see any full starter assemblies on rockauto.com for the 520.
I suppose I better double-check battery cables leading to starter too to make sure they are making good connection.
Battery is near new, and it did it with previous battery as well.
Thanks for the help. At least I can use my hand crank if necessary, but not sure if I can even start it with that when its cold.