Slow starting on warm days



We’ve got a minor issue with our '98 Saturn SL1, and I wondered if anyone might have an idea about what could be causing it. We’ve only got about 79,000 miles on the car, and we’ve never had any significant problems with it. The car starts just fine if it’s been in a garage, if it’s been driven in the last few hours, or if it’s under, say, 55 degrees outside.

However, if we drive it to work in the morning, leave it out in the sun from 8:00 to 5:00, and it’s above 55 degrees or so, the car is slow to start. It’s always started on the first try, but it takes several seconds before it finally starts.

It struck me as odd because, living in central NY for five years, it was always really cold days that prompted this sort of thing, not warm days like we have here in OK. No big deal right now since it’s always started, but if there’s something I can tweak to prevent problems something later on, I’d like to do it.

Thanks for any advice.


I’m going to skip the temperature part and say to have the battery checked and then the starter. Before doing that, if you feel like working for nothing, clean all the grounds under the hood. Those are the battery terminal ends and the ground from engine to body.


Thanks. I figured the temperature part might be important since I thought the battery would generally be more of a problem on a cold day, but the car starts fine when the weather is cold. I’ll check it out, though. Appreciate the advice.


Spark plugs, air filter, and other tune-uppy stuff current?


Yes, although it’s probably worth checking the plugs carefully again. This actually started last fall, but it went away over winter, and now as it warms up, the issue is returning.


Sounds like it might not be getting gas on the first crank, but I can’t think of anything that would cause the fuel lines to lose pressure.


What do you mean by slow start??? The car is turning over slowly??? Or the car is turning over as usual, but it’s taking a while for it to start???

If the later…then it might be time for a tune-up…If it’s the former…then check the battery and or starter.


Off the wall suggestion: the coolant temp sensor may be telling the computer that the temperature is off and it tries to adjust and causes the slow start.


Thanks–I was able to find some others with similar problems with Saturns, and that seems to be the cause sometimes. I guess the ECTS has malfunctioned on a number of Saturns from this era after a while. I’ll check that out.


Believe it, or not, the engine coolant temperature sensor (ects) can be tested at different temperatures. I know! I know! It sounds fantastical, but, it’s true! All that is needed is a knowledgeable person with a digital multimeter to measure the resistance (ohms) and/or voltage of the ects when it’s at different temperatures. This test is an alternative to the, “Let’s change a part and hope for improvement” method. It all depends on which method you prefer.