CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Avalanche continues cranking after letting go of the key

I have a 2005 Chevrolet Avalanche with the 5.3 V-8. When one goes to start the engine it continues cranking (sometimes) after the engine starts and you let go of the key . Sometimes it only does it momentarily; sometimes you have to manually bring the key back so it stops cranking. I have gotten several opinions. Some say ignition switch in the steering column; others say starter/solenoid; others say electrical problem such as a relay. Problem is it only does it sporadically and it never does it when I take it to the shop.



Anyone have an idea what the problem is ? Thanks in advance for any help on this.

There’s a spring that is supposed to return the switch from the “start” to the “run” position when you let go of it. You said sometimes you have to return it manually. Are you saying that sometimes when you let go, the switch stays stuck in the “start” position?

And are there times when the switch does return to the “run” position by itself (or manually), but the starter keeps cranking anyway?

Jesmed: Thanks for replying.

Are you saying that sometimes when you let go, the switch stays stuck in the “start” position?

Yes if by the start position you mean the position the key is in when the starter is cranking. I do not know how long it would keep cranking because I quickly move the key back out of concern it might damage the starter or something else. The frustrating thing is it only does it SOMETIMES and it has never done it yet when a mechanic has tried it.

And are there times when the switch does return to the “run” position by itself (or manually), but the starter keeps cranking anyway?

No. It has never done this. When I move the key back to the “run” position it stops cranking.

Where is this spring located? Thanks for the help. It is very frustrating not being able to find anyone locally who knows what it is.

It sounds like a mechanical problem inside the steering column/ignition switch. For some reason the switch is occasionally sticking in the “start” position. Maybe a weak/broken spring or some interference preventing the switch from turning freely.

Someone will have to disassemble the steering column enough to get at the ignition switch and figure out why it’s misbehaving.

I would venture to believe it’s the starter relay hanging up intermittently. These trucks are designed that once the engine starts, you can keep turning the key to start but the computer wont let the starter engage because the engine’s already running. Therefore I would not believe the ignition switch is the culprit. Before you pay someone a chunk of change to tear apart the column, go to the parts store and get a new starter relay and try that. It’s located in the power distribution center in the engine compartment.

Pete Peters: Thanks for the help. I replaced the starter relay and it looks like that was the problem. It hasn’t done it since I replaced the relay and in the number of times I have started the car since the replacement it would have happened at least once.

Glad to hear it! yer welcome.

Ahhh!#@!??! I spoke prematurely. It did it again this evening. This is very frustrating. At $35.00 the relay was worth a shot. But what should I try next? Any other suggestions.

1 Like

No one anywhere was able to tell me what the cause of the problem is, so I decided to try a new starter and solenoid in the hope that would solve the problem. I went to Advance auto parts and got the starter in my hands. While reading the literature (before buying) I found a flyer which said as follows:

““GHOST START” Starter Cranks After Key Is Released On Cold Start
Chevrolet Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe … with 4.8L, 5.3L …Gas Engine
Condition: Owners of these vehicles may comment that the engine starter will continue to run after key is released. This is a normal condition and no repairs should be attempted …” Ha!!

What can one say when the fact is that either no repair facility that I took the vehicle to knew about this condition; or they didn’t tell me about it in order to sell me something I didn’t need. The local Maroone Chevrolet dealer service manager told me that I needed a new fuel pump. How can anyone trust any auto repair business?

If you have to manually move the key back to RUN then the problem in in the switch.

The “ghost start” the literature is referring to is the normal way most late model GM vehicles behave. If you cold start one of these vehicles, you can literally tap the key to “start” for a half second and release it, and the starter will continue cranking until the engine starts. My sister’s Grand Am does the same thing. I presume this is not what you are referring to? Does the engine start and you can still hear the starter under there, screaming for mercy as the engine runs? Does your lock cylinder feel like it’s sticking or dragging?

I put the key in the solenoid. And the key does not turn… truck is in park. Wheels free but tough to spin. when door is open the chimmer bings. It recognizes the key. I tried unpluggin the battery. I also tried my spare key. What might be the problem

The same thing has started to occur with my 07 Avvy. Tomorrow I’m changing my relays and starter… Not going to play with it… Hopefully, it’ll solve the problem…“BowTie Till I Die”

Have you fixed this problem? If so, what was it?