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Strange non-start/no crank issue 99 Saturn SL-1 Automatic

I’m having an intermittent and strange issue with my car.

A couple weeks ago, I started my car (started on first crank, as it pretty much always has) and drove to work. When I arrived at work, I got out, and found that I was a little bit too far from the curb for my taste. When I got back in the car to restart it to fix my bad parking, it wouldn’t start. There was no crank, no click, no nothing. Odd. It had literally been off for 30 seconds. I went into work and came out a few hours later and tried again. Same thing. No crank. No click. But, all of the electronics - radio, blower, wipers - worked fine. Two hours later (five hours after arrival) I tried again, armed with a multi-meter. Nothing. The battery measured fine, 12.5v no load, 11.5 under load (blower running, radio on.) So, I called for a tow. I went out to meet the truck, this was now about 6.5 hours after driving to work, and thought I’d give it one last try. It started right up! It did so 5 or 6 times in a row. I sent the tow truck away and went back to work. When I left work an hour and a half later, the car started fine, and I got home. When I parked the car at home and turned it off and tried to restart - no crank, no click. Weird.

The next morning, I got up, the car started right up, and I took it to my mechanic. Of course, when I got there, I couldn’t get the problem of the previous day to manifest, but I left it anyway. They had the car for two days, and couldn’t get the same results either. They even let if warm up for 25 minutes at one or two points to see if a warm engine was the issue. Nothing. So, they sent me away not knowing what the issue was. The owner suspects it’s the starter failing, but doesn’t feel he can sell me on it since he can’t say for sure.

Over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been driving it much less, and mostly only when I’d go from home to work where the car would sit for 8+ hours before restarting. I’ve not had any issues.

Until today. I got gas, stopped at the auto parts store to pick up some coolant (and checked for error codes with their computer - no codes came up), and a store. When I left the store, I had the same issue. No crank, no click. Just as I was resolved to walk the rest of the way to work, I decided to try it one last time. It started right up. So, this time, it was only down for 5 minutes or so, but it seemed to be the same issue arising again.

I’m baffled. Any ideas on this one?

Do you have a voltmeter?
Are you pretty handy?
If so, check for voltage at the starter the next time it won’t start.

I assume I would need a second person for this, right? One person to crank, one to check voltage?

I’m fairly handy. I’ll just have to figure out the contact points to measure on the starter.

@anchor you won’t need a second person. Hook up your voltmeter so that you can see it from the driver’s seat.

When it wont start/crank, move the gearshift into neutral and try again, or just wiggle the gearshift while the key is in the start position.

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@db4690 I should have thought of that. :slight_smile:

@keith I’ll give that a shot. What do you think might be happening in that case?

Thanks to you both!!

The neutral/park safety switch may need adjustment or could be going bad. It keeps you from starting the car in gear.

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Give the starter a rap with a rubber mallet while someone else turns the key. If it starts then you know it’s the starter. Oh and I mean when you are experiencing the no start symptoms.

SOUNDS like mine. It’s something in the steering column on mine. Everything works fine but it just won’t turn over. THEN it will. Mine is standard and very light so a little push or parking on an incline works wonders.

Something that was suggested to me with a no crank no start was the ignition switch going bad. Something to keep in the back of your mind if all else fails.

You’re responding to a 5 year old discussion

op probably doesn’t even have the car anymore

Yeah I know it’s an old post but thought if anyone else (not the original person) was reading the post now or in the future it would offer another idea for them to try. You just never know who, what, when or how a thread might help someone.

Thanks it cranked right up

Anyone else still having this problem? What did you do to fix it. We have this problem. We’ve replace the battery and the starter. Mechanic is unsure what the problem is?