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Triumph Repair/Crazy way to start TR6


I bought a 1972 TR6 and it wouldn't start. I finally got it to turn over but only after I turn the key to the on position, not the start position, and putting the lights to the on position on the steering column. It started cranking when I tried to put the high beams on- when I pull the high/low switch toward me. Please tell me that this is not the normal way to start this vehicle. How do I fix this ? Is problem in the ignition switch ? Or is it in the way the ignition switch is wired ? I am lost on this one.

Hi Timothy,

No, that is not normal on any car. First, the strange symptoms that can show up on any car are for the most part 99.99% useless info. All that it tells you is that something is wrong.

The starter circuit and the light circuits have nothing to do with each other. Any time you have more then one circuit that are not performing correctly it is best to pick ONLY one circuit to trace. All circuits have a "load" (item that don't operate) and a "source" (battery power) and one or more "conductors" (wires) There can be other items in the circuit such as Relays, warning lights, and fuses.

There are a few tools necessary to find and repair electrical problems. You will need a 12v test light, Or a volt/ohm meter. Neither are expensive. The most important tool is a wiring diagram of the car you are working on.

Working in dealerships I learned to start at the "Load" and test the circuit a joint at a time heading toward the "Source". When I have several failed circuits as you have I always pick the simplest circuit to test first. I blank out any thoughts of what the problem is. I want it to be a surprise. I have used this method in many dealerships on many brands of cars and it has served me well. This method is a 100% fix rate method. Follow it and it is impossible to fail.

You presently have a head light circuit, a dimmer circuit and a starter circuit tangled together for some unknown reason.

The starter circuit is a simple circuit compared to light circuits so I would test that one first. (often when you have several problem circuits, when you pick one and trace it and find the problem with that one circuit it often corrects the other circuits or at least tells you what was wrong.

The 72 TR-6 has a very simple starter circuit. The "Load" is the starter motor and starter solenoid. Your battery cable goes to one of the two large posts on the starter solenoid. The other large post on the solenoid has a short cable that runs inside the starter motor. On the large post on the solenoid that has the battery cable are possibly two small wires. (not important to you at this time. There is also a small post on the starter solenoid with just one wire (White w/red tracer)

First take your 12v test light and confirm that the large battery cable on the solenoid is powered. Then have someone turn the key to the "Start" position of the ignition switch and test the small pin on the solenoid with the white w/red tracer wire on it. It is suppose to have 12v  on it with the key in the "start" position but yours probably will not. So your next test joint is at the starter switch itself. First confirm that you have at least two Brown w/white tracer wires on the switch and they should have 12v on them. Then turn the key to the "Start" position and you should see power (12v) on the 12 gauge white wire with the red tracer on it.

If you don't have 12v on the white w/red tracer wire while in the "Start" position then either the starter/ignition switch is either bad or someone has wired it up wrong.

At this point you should remove the switch and let me know and I will give you a test procedure of the switch itself and how to correctly wire it.

Forget the lights until you get this starter circuit corrected.

Let me know as you progress.


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Howard M. Fitzcharles III


Triumph TR-4 up & Spitfire, and Engine theory


Dealership line mechanic on MG, Triumph, Jaguar for 15 years, Instructor in commercial mechanics school 2 yr. Product information manager for piston and valve manufacture, Instructor & hotline answer man for import car parts importer 15 yrs.

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