Car will not consistently start. Already changed battery, tune up. STUCK. 2006 Pontiac Vibe

We have taken our 2006 Pontiac Vibe to two different mechanics numerous times trying to find out what’s wrong, but they told us that the car needs to not start for them in order for them to diagnose the problem. The issue with this is that every time we leave it with them, it starts just fine, and they charge us $45 per night to leave it there. We are scared to use the car because we don’t want to be stranded somewhere when it randomly doesn’t start.


  • Starts sometimes, but not consistently (once every week or two, it just won’t start)
  • The car sounds like it is almost going to start, as we are hearing more than just clicking, but for some reason the engine just never gets to that final rumble to stay on.
  • When the issue occurs, the car will sometimes start if we try again minutes or hours later
  • Jumping the battery seems to help it start

Previous Attempts:

  • Already changed the battery
  • Already gotten a tune-up and oil change

As I said, we are incredibly frustrated, as this problem is not consistent enough to show up for the mechanic, and therefore renders us with an unreliable and undiagnosable car. We have absolutely no idea what to do.


Claify what you mean by won’t start. Do you mean the starter motor is not operating or not operating enough to turn the engine over to start it? Or are you saying the starter motor is turning the engine over just fine but the engine doesn’t start? If you are not getting the electric starter motor to consistently work and you have changed the battery already and checked the alternator for performance, I’d go over all of the battery connections from the battery to the starter motor and ground connections. You could also have bad battery cables that look just fine but are corroded on teh inside.

There are a number of bulletins and recalls that apply to the Matrix/Vibe vehicles for an intermittant no start condition.

The first step is to check if there is an open recall on your vehicle.

I assume the starter motor is working okay and cranking the engine over like it Check for any error codes and the code history for clues to the trouble. The crank sensor might be faulty and that is causing the trouble. You could try spraying some starter fluid into the intake when the problem happens to see if that helps. If it does then there may be a fuel delivery problem. A clogged fuel filter perhaps. If the starter fluid doesn’t make any change then perhaps the ignition system needs to be checked.

@Bing - Thanks for your thoughts. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to answer your questions. I am not sure how to tell if the starter motor is turning the engine over, how to check the performance of the alternator, or how to check the battery connections (what to look for?). I am a complete novice when it comes to cars. Would a mechanic typically charge to check these things for me?

In regards to the car not starting, all I know is that the new battery appears to be working fine and there is a kind of moderately-loud, fast-paced “nic-nic-nic-nic-nic” sound when we turn the key to start the car, but no final roar of the engine.

@Nevada_545 - I put in my VIN number and it said there were no recalls. Do you have any idea which part was malfunctioning to cause the recalls for the intermittant no start condition?

If you hear the rrrrr rrrrrr sound when you turn the key, the electric starter motor is likely working. If all you hear is the nic nic nic sound, like a clicking sound, either the starter motor itself is bad, or the battery power is not getting to the starter-bad cables, connections etc. Yeah they will charge to do a diagnosis and if it isn’t doing it when they check it, they may not be able to tell.

Prices range but up to $100 I suppose. My son’s starter went out some years ago and in Minneapolis they wanted to charge me $135 to make sure it was the starter. I got a new one and told them to put it in and I’d take the chance on it. They didn’t like it but they did it and it was pretty obvious it was dead in the water.

The recalls involve replacing the Engine Control Module for solder joint failure. One GM bulletin called for a software update for intermittant no start/fault codes. To research bulletins engine model and AWD/front wheel drive info is needed.

You may want to speak with a service advisor at a GM dealer, this may be a common problem and may have a warranty extension beyond the standard 8 year/80,000 mile PCM/ECU warranty.