Electrical gremlin

1997 Nissan sentra gxe auto

Weirdest issue I’ve ever dealt with automotive related. When the interior of the car gets hot after sitting from the past evening it will not spin over. Same car try and start it later in the evening when the interior cools off spins over and starts right up. If you try and start the car in the morning starts normal. When the interior gets hot the car will not spin over. I have tried starting it in neutral wiggled this wiggled that no help it will only spin over when it cools off. Now that fall is here so far so good but I have to fix it.

Any help? TIA

Nissan Sentra 1997

Likely the neutral start switch or possibly a small inside-the-car starter relay on the fritz.

Start with the basics, making sure that there’s juice going to the starter:

When it doesn’t start, using a test light or voltmeter, see what’s happening on the starter. It has two contacts with two cables going to it: one thick, one thinner.
Make sure the thicker cable has 12V present all the time.
The thinner wire is supposed to have 12V on it when you’re starting.

If you have 12V on both those points, your starter is very likely at issue.

I cant see how it could be the starter considering it only does the no spin over when the interior is hot but I will check it. It starts with out hesitation each and every time when the interior is cool.

As far as the neutral safety switch is there one in the interior located near the shift lever?Perhaps dealing with the brake lock out? I have moved the shift lever rapidly back and forth and tried starting in neutral but it does not help not to say it still isn’t a issue.

It has to be IMO something electrical that is effected by heat. Where is this starter relay you mentioned? Drives me batty that go out in the morning nice and crisp cool out car spins over starts mediately but yet during the summer hot steamy afternoons nothing zilch!! By the way leaving the windows down didn’t help much.

I do hate to just throw parts at it also To be honest where I was going to start was purchase the electrical part of the ignition switch. It’s I believe $30 dollars . I see no reason to change the entire switch at significant more in cost and work. But I thought I’d ask around to see if anyone has experienced this as I cannot be the only one.

My first suspect would be a bad connection in a connector under the dash possibly. There are a few possibilities where the trouble could be. Instead of spending 30 dollars on a switch that may or may not be the trouble I suggest you use that money to purchase a service manual for the car that covers the wiring. A factory manual is best and it will show you all of the circuit for the starter so you can test things and really pin down the problem using a test light to verify things. There is no guessing that way. If cooler weather keeps the trouble from occurring you might try placing a heater in the car to see if that will show the trouble up.

It is very frustrating not being able to start your car when you want to. You can easily run a temporary bypass switch to the starter solenoid and power it from a fused circuit inside the dash fuse panel. That way you can still start the engine when you want to until the problem is found and fixed.

Thanks for the responses

Yes it is VERY frustrating and I agree I do hate throwing money at a problem unless it is the fix. I feel I’m a very adequate shade tree mechanic and know my way around thing is electrical problems and I don’t do well together. Installing something from scratch not a problem,searching for a fault or short then I have issues!

I do have a shop manual not a Chiltons or Hayns not that they in a pinch are good but I have a Service Manual like those found at the dealer but struggle looking things up as they seem to over complicate issues IMO. Nonetheless I’m going to keep trying.

I also thought of a momentary push button start or even a remote start to bypass but thought that a remote start might bring on problems or something else to figure in to the initial problem so a plain ole switch would be best.

Anyway thanks for the advice I will continue my hunt. As a PITA it might be but I’ll eventually figure it out.

When the interior is hot, there’s a good chance that the starter is hot as well so it could be the starter. Do you know how to jump the solenoid?

Yes I do but I doubt the starter is hot. If that were the case it would give me occasional issues after driving the car also I would assume. I’ll be 100 percent honest with you I haven’t looked at the starter per say yet. Problem is access to the starter to do testing ,jumping etc etc… I’m going to have to bring home a set of ramps and let the car sit in the hot sun and or do as suggested put a heater in the car to get it to act up or wait for summer again. This is why I was hoping that someone else had a similar issue. I read on a Honda site that someone had this issue exactly as I describe ended up being the starter relay in the fuse box in the kick panel area. Thats why i ask for the location of the one in the Sentra in my year assuming there is one.

Relays are cheap I’d assume.

If you have a service manual like the shops use then you should be able to find the location of anything on the car. That is one of the great things about those manuals. You may even be able to tap onto the solenoid wire for the starter from under the dash to add a starter button. Adding that will not cause any trouble if it is installed correctly.

Honda’s issue is mostly with the FI main relay. It basically switches power to the fuel pump.
That’s a different issue. Not sure how Nissan does it but most cars have one pole of the ignition switch control the power to the starter solenoid. It may have some interlocks that you could fake out to see if they are at issue but for that you have to operate on the dash, etc.

Seriously, I’d start with the basics and check your starter and go from there.
I don’t understand your reluctance. It will take five minutes to accuse or excuse it.

There are few things inside the car that would be so sensitive to heat that would cause a nonstart. Just follow the others advise and go to the basic circuit checks. Even a relay gets hotter than the interior when in use(~45c, 113f), Normally. An internally shorted coil on a relay will be more sensitive but that can be tested by swapping relays once you find a bad circuit and it is usually cheap just to get the spare relay.

Do the instrument panel warning lights illuminate when the key is in the on position but the starter is failing? I find no listing for a starter relay but there is an ignition relay that may supply power to the start circuit.

Yes the engine just does not spin over when the key is turned to start.

My hesitation to trouble shot is because it isn’t doing it at the moment. What to check for fault if there is no fault? I should have done more in the summer when it was happening frequently .

At this time most likely I’ll install a push button start switch.

Well if the starter solenoid is working ok installing a remote switch will allow you to get the engine started while the trouble is happening. The problem you are having is most likely due to a connection problem with the safety switch for the transmission. The switches are usually located close to the transmission. If you have a manual transmission there should be a switch on the clutch pedal. Some vehicles have a switch on the brake pedal also. These are things the manual will show you. You need to check out the circuit for the starter operation in the manual.

Yes a push button switch would seem to fit the fix . It also brings the 1997 into modern day starting procedure in today’s auto seeing many autos come that way!

The car is a automatic .

Since the problem has gone away with the change of the season which I’m grateful as I no longer have to receive the afternoon phone call stating the car wont start again . Again weirdest thing I’ve. Seen where as the interior summer heat prohibits the motor from spinning but yet evenings and mornings all is normal!

So I’ll have to figure out the proper wires to tap into for the switch ,lucky me! I was hoping someone else has experienced the same issue but as luck would have. Thanks for the assistance very much appreciated!

The manual will show you the colors of the wires and where they are at. Actually you only need the wire going to the solenoid. The other wire going to the switch can tie into the dash fuse panel. I recommend using a fuse tap to that, which you can get at a auto parts store.

You’re welcome for the help.