Sometimes car doesn't want to start. (99 Malibu)

1999 Chevrolet Malibu

I’ve been having this problem off and on for about 8 months. Pretty much it’s like this: sometimes the car just won’t start. It’ll turn over, it’ll try its hardest to start, but it just doesn’t happen. It starts cranking up, and then it just dies out.

After waiting anywhere from 1-4 hours, it’ll start up. Unfortunately this means that if I send it to a mechanic, then every time they look at it then it’s already back to starting right up.

The first few times it happened to me then it was really hot out and I was at 1/4 tank of fuel, so I filled up my tank and parked in the shade for now on. After that, it still happened with a full tank of gas and parked in the shade. Then one time it happened I had shut the car off for no more than 40 seconds, then went to turn it back on and it wouldn’t start. Thirty minutes later it started right up with no problems.

Today it happened again. It’s been two months since the last occurrence, and I thought it had gone away. It’s a rainy morning, about 70 degrees out, and that now completely rules out my theory about it getting too hot. There’s 1/4 tank of gas right now, maybe a little more.

No mechanic can figure out the problem. It just seems to never happen when I bring it to them, and it happens so randomly that I can’t figure out how to reproduce the issue. Does anyone have any ideas?

PS. Starter was replaced about a year and a half ago.

Start by finding out whether you’re lacking fuel or spark at these times. Use a spark tester or spare plug to check for spark. Use starting fluid to spray into the intake to see whether that makes it fire up (even briefly). If that does something then you need to look at fuel.

You can get these things easily at any auto parts store.

Starting fluid works well here but it can be dangerous for those who are hot familiar with the product and how to safely use it.