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The Case of the Slooooooow Start

The 6 Volt Inferiority Complex

A common myth in relation to collector cars is the idea that 6-volt electrical systems are in some way inferior to 12-volts. Some hobbyists convert their cars to 12-volts, switching to alternators, complex batches of resistors on stock items like gauges and original radios. Of course all light bulbs have to be switched so they won't instantly blow.

Obviously, if you're driving a highly modified car with contemporary stereos, halogen lights and CD ignition, then 12-volts may be necessary. However, if you have a basic stock, 6-volt car (most likely built before 1956), the truth is that you do not need to make the change. If your old car is suffering from slow starts, dim lights or worse, the 6-volt electrical system is not to blame.

Start with the battery. This may sound condescending but in using a battery tester to check the batteries power, make sure you are using one with a 6-volt/12-volt option. Too many guys have thrown out a good 6-volt battery after using a 12-volt tester.

Test the battery under load too, many times a battery that tests good, will test bad under the strain of cranking the motor.

If the battery is bad or weak, purchase a fresh one from either your local auto parts store or a company that specializes in the original-looking tar top script batteries.

Make sure your battery cable terminals are clean and clamped securely to the battery.

If the car still is slow cranking, the next most likely place to look is the starter. Remove the unit and take it to a specialist in your community who tests and rebuilds starters and generators. These guys are still around and often will check out your unit and rebuild it as needed for around $35-$40.

Go through your wiring, connections and test your generator for output as well.

Make sure you have a fresh, tight, generator belt as well.

It has been our experience that when everything in your electric system is A-OK, your 6-volt car will start and perform as well as a 12-volt car of the same vintage.

If your car has other symptoms, such as slow starts only when hot or only when cold, you may want to take a look at the engine itself.