Damned thing still won't start

Hi Y’all,

About two months ago I inquired if someone had an answer for this puzzler. My 1999 Chevy Tracker runs like a champ (it should - I put a ton o’money into it). However, every now and then, it won’t turn over. It cranks with plenty of juice, but it won’t start. I’ve noticed that each time it does this, not all the dash lights engage, as they would normally do. In other words, if the ‘check engine light’ doesn’t come on, the car will not start.

A couple folks at Car Talk convinced me that this could ONLY be the ignition, which I replaced. Guess what, fellers? It refused to start again yesterday - still won’t today.

Does anyone have any other possible solution?


Cleve in Austin

To recap, sometimes, the engine cranks normally, but, doesn’t start? When it doesn’t start, some of the dash gauges don’t light? Which ones, specifically? For two months, it started normally after changing the ignition switch? Yesterday, it exhibited similar symptoms? Be as specific of the symptoms as you can. Do you have a voltmeter and know how to use it? How about wiring diagrams? // Checks of the ohms and voltages, at various points of the start, and ignition system, are needed. An outside expert may need to be called in.

Thanks for the response, Hellokit. Yes - cranks normally, won’t start. The dash light that does not come on in these circumstances is the Check Engine light. Yes, it started normally since the replacement of the ignition, until yesterday, when it did exhibit the similar symptoms (no Check Engine light, no start).

No - no voltmeter here, but I do believe checking the ohms and voltages from top to bottom may be the only way to discover the prob, which likely means bringing in the expert. Unless you or someone else, perhaps, has a better answer.

Very kind of you to offer good advice. Thanks again!

As hellokit mentioned your best friend in this situation is a good set of wiring diagrams. Specifically what you need are the “engine controls” wiring diagram.

Heres how it works on my Fords & yours should be similiar:

Turn the key, the main relay closes & sends voltage to all engine sensors, the injectors, fuel pump & the computer.

When the computer is powered up it turns on the check engine light.

Plan A: when it wont start, check voltage at the main relay.

Plan B Since testing with a voltmeter isnt your thing. Try replacing the main relay.

If you’re lucky this will fix it & relays are cheap enough that you won’t be out much $$ if it does’nt.

My first guess is the main relay, also. Possibly you got a bad ignition switch and it’s going out again, but I’d suspect the relay first.

Is the ignition coil working? The spark should be blue, not dull red or orange. New ignition coils can be bad right out of the box.

Thanks folks - all good advice. We shall use the good advice to track this down. Y’all have a great holiday!