Quirky doesn't even begin to describe my car

So I have a 2004 Hyundai Elantra and the previous owner called it “quirky”. She said to turn the AC or heat off you have to have the setting on 4 not 0 and a few other things. She forgot to mention sometimes it just won’t start. Last night when I went to drive to get some take out the car just would not start. The radio and lights turn on but the engine woudn’t start. There was no noise of the engine even trying to start. I made sure the car was in park and now I’m just confused. I called the previous owner (my boyfriend’s sister) and she said when that happen she would make sure the lights, radio and AC were turned off and jam the car into park. I tried all of this and it didn’t work so I called her again and she said sometimes you just “need to wait it out”…this morning I tried the car again and it turned on with no problem but I am paranoid it will happen again on the road trip I have planned for this weekend. Any advice or comments appreciated.

How old is the battery on this gem? Once a battery is more than 4 years old, it is possible to have problems such as you describe. Since the radio and lights draw far less power from the battery than the starter, it is possible to have sufficient power for accessories, but not enough power to turn the starter. A load test of the battery is a very good idea, as is cleaning the terminal ends of accumulated corrosion.

The other possibilities include a bad neutral safety switch on the shift mechanism, and a worn-out ignition switch. The next time that this symptom takes place, try putting the shift lever into the neutral position. If it starts without a problem, that is a very strong indication that the neutral safety switch needs to be replaced.

As to the posssibility of a worn-out ignition switch–Are you one of those drivers who keeps a huge number of keys, fobs, charms, talismans, and other do-dads on the key ring? If not you, did the previous owner have this curious habit of loading down the key ring with excess objects? In either of these scenarios, it is very possible that the ignition switch has been worn out by the excess weight hanging from the ignition key.

The HVAC problem is likely to be the result of a bad resistor pack controlling the speed of the HVAC fan.

“jam the car into park” = neutral safety switch

Thank you!

For the interim, when it won’t start, put the shifter into neutral. That usually works when park won’t.