Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Saturn stalled, and now will not start

I have a 95 Saturn SL2 4 Cyl DOHC with 196k miles. This engine however has about 140k. Yesterday I was driving to work and it stalled and now will not start. It gives one attempt to crank, a single “err” sound about half a second long and then I get nothing. The radio still comes on and the dash lights work, though I don’t believe all of them work to give the correct indications. The battery is not the problem. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what may cause this?

If you’re sure the battery isn’t the problem, I’d check the connections from it to the frame and starter. I bet one of them is corroded.
It could be your starter but your car stalled: It wouldn’t do that with a bad starter.
Check your battery connections and battery.

The starter takes a LOT more power than the dash lights, etc. See if the dash lights stay on while you are attempting to start the car. Whatever happens, the first thing I would try is a jump start.

I agree with the jump start idea, it sure sounds like a weak battery to me. My bet is a bad alternator, or battery cable. If I recall replacing the alternator on that car is a real PIA that requires pulling the axle for access. Although its been years since I have last looked under the hood if a Saturn.

We did try jumping it, somehow I forgot to mention that this morning. The dash lights do not stay on while attempting to start the car. We actually tried a brand new battery as well to no avail. I will have to attempt to clean up the connections though.

@Vago make sure the engine isn’t seized
Put a socket and a breaker bar on the crankshaft bolt and try to manually turn it over

I know that sounds drastic, but you should rule out the worst case scenario

I had a 93 Saturn SL1 with an occasional no-start episode where some- but not all -accessories worked. Sounds dumb, but jiggle the key, or use a different key. The keys seemed to wear quite a bit and its getting old. At least this won’t cost anything. Good luck.

I’ll check on the seized engine thing, but you don’t get any of the metal on metal “really bad” sound that normally comes with that. I also tried to use a different key and got no progress.

I do appreciate all suggestions given this far, and hope that one will eventually work.

@Vago, depending on why an engine seizes, there may not be any “really bad” sound

Hopefully you dont’ have that problem