Intermittent starting problem

My 2001 Saab 9-5 has 156,000 miles and is generally in fine working condition. An irregularity in starting began about two months ago which will happen say once every twenty times the car is driven for more than twenty minutes or so.

The car always starts when the engine is cold, first time each day. After driving for awhile then stopping for a quick errand, more than 90% of the time the car will restart, less then 10 % of the time it does not. The engine does not crank at all, only a faint click noise. I can try starting again a number of times with the same noise and result.

However, after 20-25 minutes have passed the car will start as it normally should. Seems to me somehow the problem relates to the cooling off period. Does this make sense?

Is it a switch, a loose wire on the starter, internal wear on the starter motor? Is it a clue that it takes about the same amount of time before it will retart?


Sounds like the starter. Running the car could heat up the starter and cause the worn out brushes not to make contact or cause a problem with the solenoid contacts. Check all battery connections and connections at the starter are clean and tight, but more than likely replacing the starter will clear your problem.

sounds like a plan. first i will clean connections at starter. thx i’ll let you know if this works.

Try moving the belt and the pulley of the starter slightly by hand. If the brushes are wearing out, which they probably are, this should get you to a spot where less worn brushes make contact. At some point the brushes will be worn enough that even this won’t work.

" Try moving the belt and the pulley of the starter slightly by hand. "

Starter belt ?
Starter pulley ?


knfenimore–No go on the starter as the problem. Mechanic agreed with your assessment and replaced with a rebuilt ~ $560. After a couple days driving intermittent starter problem again with same symptoms. After cooldown period, it starts. . . but minus $560.

My mechanic installed a push button starter bypassing the key to start the car. There is a short in the ignition system and this is the cheapest way to fix it.