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Turning key won't start car

The first start when I leave the garage works fine while the car is cold, but after several stops each time I try to start the car, I have to turn the key 2-6 times, then it starts. Had battery checked & it’s ok and I hook safety belt prior to starting and also new starter was installed 3 mos. ago. doesn’t help. ss

You may have a bad starter relay, if this car has one. A lot of cars do that also have factory security systems. The relay may need to be replaced.

It is the solenoid on the starter…

What year is your STS? Does it do anything when it won’t start properly? Click? Rattle? More info please…

Failing neutral safety switch? Your problem may be caused by dozens of different malfunctions. More info please…

I just paid a mechanic $385.00 to try to fix problem…he put it on computer & it did work ok for a couple days and now is doing same…the first start in a.m. is fine & then all my stops in town…turned key 4-5 times & it doesn’t even make noise and then it finally starts. Now mechanic says to bring it back…I sure don’t want to spend another $400.

sts is 1998…does not make a noise or anything when i turn key…then finally 5th or 7th time, it will start. sallyran

1998 STS 60,000mi no click-no rattle-no noise when key is turned 4-7 times…then it finally starts ok.

should I change mechanics instead of going back to same guy?..he did put it on computer and charged me $385 but it did same thing after i got home. he did say to bring it back if any problems, but don’t want to pay another $400 for him to think he fixed it. I know labor is expensive, but don’t think he found problem.

Do all your dash lights come on when you turn the key? Or does everything appear dead, and then finally it all kicks in?

He shouldn’t charge you full costs, since it’s a continuation of the same problem, and it wasn’t fixed the first time. Parts, sure - he can’t be expected to eat those. Give him another chance to sort it out.

nope–nothing does anything when i first turn the key for 4-7 times --no grinding-no noise-no click . sallyann— thanks for trying to help me–

One additional thing to check is the switch itself located under the steering column. I had this problem with my Buick once and all it required was to adjust the switch a little. When you turn the key, a rod is activated which activates the slide switches on the ignition switch. If the switch is out of adjustment, you can get an intermittent issue of nothing happening at all when the key is turned because the switch isn’t being activated.

what I am wondering: what if he doesn’t find problem…does it get worse to where the car will NEVER start at all or we can’t tell, I spose? sallyran

Bing (and SteveF…thanks to everyone’s help–pretty tough when u live on soc. security and the bill is almost $400 bucks and didn’t even solve problem. I see on his bill he did state he replaced neutral safety switch $84.24 and and 2 small things for 10.95 (which I can’t read, but will ask him what)and rest was labor…which I realize isn’t cheap. oh well. SallyRan

Have your mechanic remove the battery cables, and on the positive cable have him peel back the red rubber cover to expose the terminals that connect to the battery. If a lot of corrosion is found under this red rubber cover replace the positive battery cable assembly.


hello Tester–mechanic removed battery cables & checked them all out and said they are clean…so guess that’s 1 more down. thanks so much. only one day, last Thursday did the key have to be turned 6 times after 1 out of 6 stops and then I have driven it every day since and and made stops and only 1 time , yesterday, Tues. did I have to turn the key 2x’s at only 1 stop. confusing? sallyran

I had a similar problem, and it was the ignition key-lock assembly itself. If the dash lights don’t come on when you turn the key, that narrows down the problem a lot, and the mechanic should have picked up on that immediately, assuming that you told him that.

Always tell the mechanic all the details that you have, that is very important. Better yet, write them out.


I can’t figure out what the mechanic was looking for by “putting the car on the computer”. Information retrived via the data link connector (which is where an outside computer is hooked up can at times be very useful but this is a time where it is the mechnanics multimeter that should be getting put to use, in paticular, it should be noted just what happens to the voltage at the battery when this sympton is making its presence known.The next voltage reading I want is the volts applied to the starter solenoid. These readings can easily be determined via a multi meter.

Do you know if this car ever experienced an event where the postive battery terminal (on a Delco battery) leaked? If yes and even if the visual inspection comes out saying “good” this cable would be high on my target list for potential replacement. I hope your mechanic is paying just as much attention to the ground side of the electrical system and has given Technical Service Bulletins a good look over.

For me and in my experience, the neutral saftey switch turns out to be the culprit when a mechanic has been working in that area for some reason and has introduced an error into the neutral safety switch. These switches (in their various forms) are actually very reliable on a modern car, except when someone has been monkeying around. Now the backup light swith, there is a switch that simply wears out ( this is not the source of your problem)

NOW TODAY–1st time in garage the car starts ok. Made a couple stops today and a couple times the dash lights STAY ON when I turn key half way, then hook safety belt and then turn key all way, and car doesn’t start. I turn key a couple more times (dash lights stay on) and then the car starts. Car did this on a couple of the 5-6 starts I did today. Other times it did ok. Seems dash lights are staying on when key is turned, even if car doesn’t start after I hook safety belt. Should I still go ahead & replace positive battery cable? Thanks. SallyRan

You are not describing the symptons of a cable failure. Why do you feel there is a starter inhibit function related to the seat belt? Has this starter ever been tested while still attached to the car but with a remote starter switch hooked to the starter? I believe your starter is “in the V” of the engine so access to wiring may be difficult but still possible. Why is the idea of a bad part or installation error not being looked into, do you have any warranty related to the work (3 months is not very long ago).