Starting problem

I have a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder with manual transmission and a gazillion miles on it. In the past few days I’ve had trouble starting it (battery is good so it’s not that). What happens is I insert the key into the ignition, turn it and get that ‘click’, but the engine doesn’t turn over or even try to turn over. If I am lucky and/or I jiggle the key, move the gear shift in/out gear, move the steering wheel back/forth, get out and push the car forward/backward a few feet, the car might start. Except last night when it didn’t and I had to get some guys to help me push start it.

I had this problem briefly at the end of the summer last year, but when I took it to the mechanic he couldn’t find anything wrong and I couldn’t recreate the non-starting. I had no starting problems during the winter months. Now it’s back. Besides external temperature, there may be a correlation between humidity levels but I have only anectodal data to support that hypothesis.

Does anyone have any inkling as to what might be going on?

Thank you!

My guess is solenoid or a battery cable problem. If you could check voltage at the battery and at the solenoid that might help pin it down.

Have the battery cables cleaned at the battery and also where the other end of the cable connects to the engine (ground) or solenoid.

If the connections are good you may have a “dead spot” in the armature of you starting motor. Only fix is to replace the starting motor.

The click sound is the solenoid sending power to the starting motor. Bad connections means the power from the battery isn’t getting passed along. If full power is getting to the starter then the starter itself has gone bad. If you have never had a new starting motor in the zillions of miles you’ve driven then it just wore out.

Mechanics often call this a “flat spot” in the starter; it happened to my Nissan last year and it needed a new starter. However, check out the other items mentioned first, just in case.

Thank you all for your input. Dropped the car at the shop this morning and was glad to be armed with at least some knowledge about what was up! Thanks again.