Added Audio! Ignition, or something else?

I’m in a 93 S10/Sonoma.

I’d been having a problem for a while where if I turned the key, sometimes it would feel like it was trying to crank and would instead just make a whining sound which died down when I stopped trying to start the car. Inevitably, though, I could give it a second go and it would start up just fine.

Eventually I realized that if I barely turned the key to a very specific point it would start up consistently with zero problems. I called my brother, who advised me it was probably the ignition failing me and if I had a workaround I might be able to go for a while but I’d need to get it fixed eventually.

Well, this morning after spending ten minutes trying to find the “sweet spot” I gave up and decided the ignition must have done as he’d forecast and given up. I was under the impression a locksmith could do this so I called around, but they informed me if the key was turning, it wasn’t the ignition at all and was something internal. One of them got quite indignant that I’d called him over such a thing and harangued me in a condescending voice until I sheepishly hung up the phone and decided not to call anyone else if all I was going to do was broadcast my astonishing ignorance.

So is it the ignition, do you think? The key still turns just as it ought, it just goes NRRRRrrrrrr…rrr… instead of starting. :frowning:

on the steerning coloume is a swich that a rod been controled by your key is what may need you have to lower the coloum down to get to the ing. switch. i’m assumeing tha t the starte is doing its job and cranking the engine over and the truck is not running on its own. need to check for spark and fuel that is the next step.

Is that “NRRRRrrrrrr…rrr…” noise coming from under the hood? Sounds like a clicking, maybe?

No, it’s not a clicking at all (I am glad about this, lol). It’s the rev you get just before it… I don’t know the technical term, I’m sorry, I’m not a car person… just before it “catches” and starts up for real. But instead of “catching” it just sits there and when you let the key go it fades out weakly.

When you first turn the key, you hear this 'chucka-chucka" noise from under the hood on a normally starting car - maybe at a rate of four ‘chuckas’ a second. That’s indicating that the starter is turning the engine over. When it ‘catches’, it actually means that the car is running off fuel and you let the start position go on your key switch.

Perhaps open the hood and watch to see if you see something happening with that engine when someone else turns the key.
Or do you hear a loud 'SCREETCH" noise when you turn the key?

It isn’t entirely clear from your description whether that car’s starter is doing something. That’s important to know. If the starter does something, Marc’s suggestion is right on point.

Hey - Maybe we should have a library of noises on this site so people can refer to them while describing their problem?

If you mean a whirring noise comes from the starter it could be the starter drive is worn. The starter drive is what causes the gears on the starter to engage the teeth on the ring gear which then causes the engine to turn over. If this is the noise you hear a new starter will fix it.


Tester is right. You may hear the starter drive referred to as a Bendix, but you should just replace the whole thing.

Well, this might be helpful! I am clearly pretty pants at describing my problem, so I put my phone down on the hood of my car and got some audio. The third and fourth attempts are pretty characteristic. This is me turning the key. The physical act of turning the key is unimpeded and feels normal. As soon as I realize it won’t start I let it go, and that leads to the whirring-down noise you hear.

You guys are awesome. :frowning: My brother who’s my usual mechanic is out of town on a National Guard obligation and I’m stuck here.

Yeah, that’s a bendix,err starter drive.

Same problem with my 2000 S10 Blazer, it was the starter not the ignition. No grinding, just the whirring noise.

Ed B.

Thank you! :slight_smile: