Car won't start intermittently

I have a 2007 Nissan Maxima and never had a problem with it until recently. My husband and I took a long drive to NJ from NH and went we stopped for gas and turned off the car, we could not start the car back up. We naturally called AAA, but once they came, about a hour later, the car started right up. Since that time, the car has repeated this several times. I take a trip to the grocery store, get back to the car, no problem, then make another short stop and then try to start the car and it does not start. I have no problem starting the car going to work every day and when I come home from work. It only happens when I make short intermittent trips, sometimes 2-3 stops. It always starts when there has been at least 1/2 hour between starts. I have taken it to 2 mechanics and they can never reproduce the problem I now have a car I have no confidence in. I am afraid even to get gas for this car. HELP… What can be wrong!!

You Don’t Say ! You Don’t Say What It Does Or Doesn’t Do When You Try Starting It And It Won’t Start. We Don’t Know If It Cranks And Won’t Start Or If It Doesn’t Even Crank.

There are probably dozens or even hundreds of things that can cause a car not to start. More information needs to be available.

Have you tried your other NATS Nissan keys to see if the key registration is failing ?

Is the Security Indicator Light OFF during or after cranking the engine ?


Sorry I did not give a very good description. As you can tell, I am not very mechanical. The car turns over but does not start. The dealer just replaced the battery thinking it was the battery, but it was not the battery. I do not get any ‘check engine’ light coming on also. The car was at the mechanic again today and they still cannot fix. They cannot reproduce the problem without fixing it, therefore, I cannot seem to get this resolved. The key registration is fine. I am not sure about the security indicator light off. I can check next time I have the issue…

Please allow me to apologize for the first response to your post- every forum has a few members with a gruff “bedside manner.”

Intermittent starting problems can be tough to diagnose. Starting problems with vehicles are almost always related to electrical or fuel delivery issues, but there are a lot of parts in these systems. The battery and key sound okay from what you have said, and it sounds like you can hear the starter engage even when the car wont start, so the starter is probably okay. Replacing parts one at a time (like the battery) will eventually solve the problem, but will probably be expensive (and wasteful). You may have to nail down the factors associated with your starting problem before this gets fixed.

A few questions to think about:
Have you had any work done on the car recently or driven over any large chunks of ice? Is the car well maintained? Did the mechanics you took the car to do a thorough inspection of the car or just a quick look over in the parking lot? If the car hasn’t really been inspected I’d recommend taking it back to the mechanic for a thorough check up. If a good mechanic spends enough time with your car they can find the problem (but it might cost you).

Good luck.

Thanks for your response. Some good things to think about.

The car is well maintained. I have the oil changes and other maintanences done on schedule, and this particular problem has been to two different mechanics, one being a nissan dealer who did a thorough inspection (twice).

The following day, after having the battery replaced which they thought would solve the problem, I noticed a shroud coming loose under the car. I drove it to the Nissan Dealer at which time they tighten that shroud. When I was leaving the dealership to get back into my car, the car would not start. This was end of day. They finally saw the problem and asked me leave it overnight. Naturally they could not reproduce the problem the next day(Darn!!). No charge… take the car home and no fix. Again this problem is intermittent.

As for driving over ice, yes, this is very possible. The first time I had this problem was when we were driving in roads which were terribly plowed and the car was struggling in several inches of snow. In addition, I live in NH and we had had a ton of snow this winter.

Another major concern I have is mice might have gotten into the engine (just a thought of course), as you can hear acorns every time you open my hood. I have been told they can really cause havoc in an engine. Now I know I am in trouble.

Again, thanks for your suggestions.

Because of the description the first thing I would be checking for is something leaking fuel into the intake with the engine off. This will flood the engine and keep it from starting temporarily. The next time it won’t start hold the accelerator pedal to the floor while you turn the key. This is a flood clearing procedure. If it works tell your shop to check for a leaking fuel pressure regulator, and if that’s ok to check for a leaking fuel injector - or anything that would contribute to a hot start flooding condition.

If flooring it makes no difference the next thing I’d want to know is whether or not it has spark. You can get a cheap spark tester at any auto parts store. They come with instructions.

"Please allow me to apologize for the first response to your post- every forum has a few members with a gruff “bedside manner.”

  • ?? And I have no idea who Wes Sprinkle is who implies that he speaks on behalf of “the forum.” But I do know who CSA is - a little nutty, sure - but pretty much everyone who posts here regularly is. CSA is one of the more polite members who merely asked for much needed clarity. Perhaps the bold/italicized text? Just a weird quirky habit he has.

Thanks for those tips… I will definitely try them next time the car won’t start!

Also no need whatsoever to apologize for the first response. I am just so appreciative of all your help and great advice. I will keep you posted of my ‘success’!!

Any luck on the car? Did you find out what happen?

At the risk of seeming a little gruff…

It’s been over five years since Bertie_G began having car starting problems.

I doubt she’s still monitoring the site for any additional help, but I guess stranger things have happened, right?

I doubt we’ll ever know what happened, whether the car got fixed, sold, traded, totaled, etcetera.

I’ll apologize for my sharp tongue, but this discussion is a little ripe. Don’t you agree?

I have this exact problem. I have a 1999 Saturn SL. Sometimes I drive to run errands and when I get back in the car it won’t start. The lights, radio and dashboard lights come on, but it never cranks or turns over. Then about 20 minutes later the car will start. Some days I can run errands and some days I can not. This first happened to me this last month. The outside tempature was about 75 degrees and I was parked downhill on a steep hill.
This happens over and over again, but not necessarily on a steep hill. We’ve replaced the battery and the starter. And it still happened. I drove it to the mechanic’s and they looked at it and the car needed a new starter, I told them that we just replaced the starter, but they were sure it was a starter, so we paid for them to put in yet, another starter.
This morning I drove about 2 miles, stop at a store, the got back in the car and drove the car about 2 blocks went in the store for about five minutes and the car wouldn’t start. I phoned my mechanic and he said he was sorry. He offered to have a tow truck come and get me. But I let the car sit for 20 minutes and then it started. So I drove it up to his shop and it’s sitting there right now. They are going to look at it in the morning. I’ve been on the internet looking at forums and videos. Lots of people have this problem, but no one seems to have the “magic” answer.

This thread was started 8 years ago and is not about a Saturn . Don’t you think the thing to do is wait until the shop gets back to you ? No sense confusing yourself with a bunch if internet theory’s .

Yow! Stop that!

Replacing all those parts and more won’t fix it.
Also, I would guess the problem is not “this exact problem” that a 2007 Nissan had eight years ago.

I believe what’s happening is a malfunction in the car’s anti-theft system (I believe it’s called GM “pass-lock”). The car thinks you are trying to steal it. Many GM cars from this era suffered from this affliction.

I had/have a 2001 Chevrolet Impala that did this when my son took the car to college about 12 years ago. It is extremely frustrating, I understand that.

I googled and tried to diagnose the problem and never really did come up with a solution. It was intermittent and I could not replicate the conditions that caused it.

The car eventually got over it, recovered all on its own, hasn’t done it in way over a decade.

Some suggestions, if I recall, tell you to turn the key to “on,” not “start” and leave it there until something goes off on the dash (I think maybe “security” light) and then start it.

I would say that you either need to find somebody who will properly diagnose it, be patient and wait, or sell the car, but quit paying to have all the parts replaced that won’t fix it.

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For fails to crank, the best way to get to the bottom of it is to measure the voltage at the two starter terminals with the key in “start”. At a time it won’t crank. Probe between terminal and starter case. If they both measure at least 10.5 volts and it doesn’t crank the engine, replace the starter. If either is below 10.5 volts, works towards the battery to find out why.

There’s a half dozen or more reasons for fails to crank, but this test is the best starting point imo.

Presumes the engine otherwise rotates freely, isn’t seized or hydro-locked.

I should say that I’ve suggested this test numerous times here, and very few ever come back and say the problem is now fixed b/c of my great suggestion … lol … for the most part we just never hear from the poster again. So if you shop does this test, and they figure out the problem by the results, be sure to let us know. Or even if they don’t, let us know the resolution @sun_dog_press_158102 .

I took it to the shop and they looked at the fusebox and wiring. Said the fixed something in the relays. And said it was good, as they started it over 50 times. I went to the shop. Drove it to work and after work it wouldn’t start.

What were the results of the voltage measurement test I described above? Presumably your shop did that test at a time when it failed to crank, right? Otherwise, what made them decide to do the relay repair fix?

George, I don’t know what the results were. It’s back at the shop. They never charged me for the relay repair.

I have an 03 f150 that does the same thing…it does it on average 3x a year so far…it always will start on those occasions but it’s on the 7th or 8th try.Then no problems for a few months…Dont have a clue.

Intermittent fuel pump was our issue. Had the wife stop by the the dealership every time she drove by, it failed and they diagnosed it in failure mode and fixed it.

Sun Dog’s problem appears to be fails to crank. Unlikely to be a fuel pump problem.

Quote from OP, what did I miss?