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2002 Hyundai Sonata GLS - Not cranking, not starting (Sporadically)

Two weeks ago I drove my car in the morning and when I tried to take it out again the same day, it wouldn’t start.

The engine doesn’t seem to be making any sounds when I turn the key, but there is something turning on under the hood - It whirs a little bit and then shuts off (sounds like a small motor).

Since then, it has started a couple of times - I drove it maybe four times and only once did it not turn back on to take me home. I left it there and went back two days later and it fired right up. I had the battery tested, cleaned the terminals - this did not solve the problem.

When I turn the key - all of the interior doodads turn on, you do not hear the solenoid, and the engine does not turn over. It is not clicking or making any noise other than the distant whirring. When it does turn on (very infrequently), it fires right up! I hope this is helpful, thank you.

Edit: Shifting into neutral and trying to start did not work.

The next time the engine won’t start, with ignition switch on, step on the brake pedal and shift the transmission into neutral, and then try starting the engine.

If the engine starts right up, there’s a problem with the transmission range switch.


Thanks for the response. I tried that already, I forgot to mention it, nothing was any different.

It sounds like the starter is not engaging the flywheel. This usually means a new starter. Have the car checked out by a competent shop. This is a common problem but you want the exact cause identified.

Over the years I’ve had 3 starters replaced under similar circumstances.

When it doesn’t crank over, check if the starter is even getting power

Hard to say from your description, but the small motor making a whirring sound might be the fuel pump turning on briefly to charge the fuel rail. My Corolla does that sometimes, and that’s the noise it makes. Not easy to hear, but if I listen carefully it is clearly heard. The sound is actually coming from the fuel tank area in the rear of the car, but it is so faint it could easily be thought to be coming from the engine compartment.

I expect @db4690 is spot on, the starter motor isn’t getting proper power for some reason. Absent a faulty starter motor, likely causes

  • ignition switch
  • weak battery
  • high resistance battery connections
  • clutch or transmission safety switch no connection or high resistance connection
  • high resistance connections at starter motor
  • engine or battery not properly grounded to chassis

You say that you cleaned the battery terminals, but did you actually remove them and clean where the terminal contacts the battery post.

Battery connections are the first place to begin when you have a “No Crank” situation. Even
if you have a new battery, if the connections are loose, dirty or corroded, you will not be
allowing the full flow of current to pass thru the connections. The connection may be
enough to turn on the lights, but not enough for the huge flow that is needed to operate the
starter. This is where many people say that they know the battery is good….”because the
lights come on”. This is no more a battery test than licking a 9volt battery. It only tells you that there is electricity…not how many volts or the amperage that flows from the battery.
Jump starting may have wiggled the terminal just enough to allow the current to pass and start the engine, but tomorrow you have the same problem.

First remove the cables from the battery and use a wire brush to remove any corrosion and dirt from the battery posts and the cable terminals. There is a tool with a round wire brush for this purpose, found at any auto parts store for less than $10
Before connecting the cables, apply a coating of di-electric grease to the battery posts this will keep oxygen away from the connection so that it will not corrode as fast.

It is just as important that the other end of the cables also have a clean connection. Remove the positive cable from the battery again so that you do not short anything out. Follow both cables to their far ends, remove this connection and wire brush the connection and the cable terminal clean and retighten these connections.

If there was work done recently, there may have been an “engine to body” ground that was not installed following the work. These grounds normally run from the rear of the engine to the firewall and are uninsulated and most are a braided wire. If any of these are found unattached…reattach them.
Remember….this is not a “Sherman Tank” don’t over tighten the connections.
Tight…tight………………too tight…broke!!!