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Not sure how much of my basic knowledge from the 60's still applies, but the most common starter failure was the solenoid relay. When the ignition switch is turned on, a small electric current is sent through the starter solenoid. This causes the starter solenoid to close a pair of heavy contacts, thus relaying a large electric current through the starter motor, which in turn sets the engine in motion.

The symptom of a bad solenoid is either total silence, or just a click. A series of clicks usually indicates the battery is too weak to keep the contacts closed.

It is rare for an electric motor to just stop working. That's why I suspect in most cases it is the solenoid that failed. It used to be an easily replaced and cheap (< $50) part. On tiger's image, it is that cylindrical piece on top of the motor (pointed to by #20). Only held by a couple bolts. On the other end, a heavy +12V power cable. And a couple small wires from the ignition switch.

Doesn't Porsche sell a replacement for the solenoid any more? I guess they'd rather sell you a $1000 motor and $400 labor.
 

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Not sure how much of my basic knowledge from the 60's still applies, but the most common starter failure was the solenoid relay. When the ignition switch is turned on, a small electric current is sent through the starter solenoid. This causes the starter solenoid to close a pair of heavy contacts, thus relaying a large electric current through the starter motor, which in turn sets the engine in motion.

The symptom of a bad solenoid is either total silence, or just a click. A series of clicks usually indicates the battery is too weak to keep the contacts closed.

It is rare for an electric motor to just stop working. That's why I suspect in most cases it is the solenoid that failed. It used to be an easily replaced and cheap (< $50) part. On tiger's image, it is that cylindrical piece on top of the motor (pointed to by #20). Only held by a couple bolts. On the other end, a heavy +12V power cable. And a couple small wires from the ignition switch.

Doesn't Porsche sell a replacement for the solenoid any more? I guess they'd rather sell you a $1000 motor and $400 labor.
Yup, my mech mentioned something about the solenoid which I of course understood nothing about. He also said the starter motor was weak. I think they sent out the starter motor for reconditioning so not sure how long that will last.
 

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for those curious - you can refer to the video posted by lonewolfsx to see how the starter works.
Start issue - spun up rpms with engine off? A few...

The common issue is apparently the "stuck" or "seized" gears which sometimes fails to extend or retract. That is why there is no cranking or a squealing sound that is a symptom for some. (I only encountered it once though).

It just seems weird that the built in obsolescence of this device seems to be around 8-10 years.

wmclarenf1 you can check the prices on the websites of the common parts sellers.
the choices locally for me were limited and priced approx 30% higher.
 
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