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Car starting problem when Parked outside and fine in Garage?

Got a 2004, Mazda 6i, 2.4LT, Manual, 140K miles

Car has been acting weird from past one week or 10 days.

Outside temperature is around 25- 40 Fahrenheit.

I park my car in my home garage. It started fine in garage in morning, drove to work and parked
in open parking lot for about 8 hours. Evening it did not start in the first try, it started at 4th time.

I thought it might be weather and battery.

Next day morning it started fine in garage at 2nd start. Same problem in evening it would start
at 4-5th time. Then I looked at my car battery and it was installed 2 years ago 3/2014.

I went to Walmart where my car battery was installed and they tested and said it is fine and
has no problem with car battery. Just to make sure I took to nearby autozone they said that
car battery is fine.

Over the weekend I left my car in our garage and was starting it every day morning to make
sure if its working fine. It started fine and left it ON for about 45 minutes, everything is fine.

Today Sunday evening the weather outside was good around 55F. Went to some store
for grocery shopping and returning back it started at 4th time.

When ignition key is turned ON, all the lights on dash board,radio,lights are fine and when I
turn on the car it does not give any sound ( no cranking or anything) it was completely dead.
Took the key out and waited for 5 minutes and tried again, with little cranking sound it started
at 3rd try.

Took car to autozone for free testing and they said Car battery is good and when they asked
me to start the car,it again did not start first time. They jump started my car and it started.

They are suspecting it might be alternator.

What baffles me is why does the car start in 2nd try when parked in garage over night
and does not start when parked outside in parking for about 45 minutes.

Just checking with the experts out here to see if can provide any help.

Do you think it might alternator ? ( starter was replaced for the above car 2 years ago).

The way it is intermittent points towards a bad connection. Check the battery and starter connections for corrosion. Don’t forget the ground connections.

Unbolt each connection, and clean the mating surfaces and reattach.

There is also the possibility one of these cables has internal corrosion. You can check that with a voltmeter.

The next time nothing happens when you turn the ignition switch to start the engine, with your foot on the brake pedal, shift the transmission into neutral and then try starting the engine.

If the engine starts, there’s a problem with the park/neutral safety/reverse light/transmission range switch.


Your battery is fine and so is your alternator. The problem is in the starter circuit, not the charging circuit. It could be a bad connection with one of the cables as Bill Russell suggested or it could be in one of the safety switches as tester suggested. It could also be the ignition switch itself.

If I were to make a bet on the problem, I’d bet on the ignition connection at the starter. Thats the small wire to the solenoid of the starter. I’d guess it is loose. Some of those use spade connectors that sometimes don’t like to work the second time they are connected, such as when the starter is replaced. It could have backed out but is hanging by a thread.

Sounds like a “no crank” problem. Tester’s guess of a

problem with the park/neutral safety/reverse light/transmission range switch.

seems unlikely, given the OP says this car is a manual transmission. It could be a problem with the clutch safety switch though. I had that problem with my manual Corolla one time. The best way to diagnose this is to ask your mechanic to measure the voltages at both starter motor terminals during attempted cranking, terminal to case. If both are above 10.5 volts and it doesn’t crank it is likely a faulty starter motor. If one is below 10.5 volts, work backwards towards the clutch safety switch, the ignition switch, and the battery to find out why.

GeorgeSanJose: My 1991 Mazda RX7 purchased in 2001had an intermittent start problem nearly identical to OP. It would usually start on the first try but sometimes would not crank. If I released the clutch then depressed it ensuring the pedal was all the way to the floor it would start. I didn’t know how to test or replace the switch so I took it to an independent shop. Problem solved for less than $70 diagnosis, parts, and labor.

If not the switch, I’d go through all the battery cables and connections, as mentioned above. Using a voltmeter to check at each point when it’s not starting would be very helpful.