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05' Vibe Starts and runs fine, turn off the car, then it wont start back up

The car will start up and drive just fine but as soon as you turn it off, it will not turn back on. If you wait three to four hours it will restart with no problem. This repeats its self daily. When you turn the key the dash lights come on but will not crank at all. I am skeptical that it might be the alarm system;however, there is no key fab and no code for the check engine. It has 170K miles. Laughing, my sweet husband dictated this…my first attempt to describe the problem was long and rambling! Sorry ya’ll i do not know anything about cars…besides the fact that i just might have bought a lemon! Good thing i like lemonade! PLEASE HELP!

The next time it does this, turn the ignition on so the dash lights come on. Step on the brake pedal and shift the transmission into neutral and then try starting the engine. If the engine starts, the problem is with the park/neutral safety switch.


Just to clarify, when you say “won’t crank at all”, do you mean the motor turns over and over but doesn’t start, or just doesn’t turn over at all?

There’s are TSBs (technical service bulletin) for hot-start problems in Corolla/Matrix/Vibe with this engine.

Google “1zzfe extended crank”.

Tester, we were able to do that twice and it started…but now it wont even start in neutral. Vhyle, the moter just dosent turn at all. circuitsmith, i sent that link to my husband. Thanks for all the help ya’ll

Park/Neutral safety switch.

The P/N safety switch is part of a combination switch mounted to the transaxle. This switch determines whether the transmission is in park or neutral in order for the starter to operate, It turns on the back-up lights when the transmission is shifted into reverse, and it tells the computer what gear the transmission is in.

This switch is made of plastic and heat can effect the switch.


I re-read the OP and see I was barking up the wrong tree.
It could be the safety switch or the starter itself.

I don’t think this car is a lemon. 8 years and 170,000 miles is not an uncommon lifespan for the contact points on Toyota starter motor assemblies. What happens is that when you start the car, a mechanism in the starter assembly closes four contacts in the starter assembly to complete the starter motor ciruit. They tend to get fried (material erosion and carbon deposition) after a time and become intermittant. Typically when this happens you’ll occasionally hear a “click” but the start motor won’t turn the engine over.

Tester may be right. Your description fits his suggestion. I’m only offering another possibility to consider.