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Old 01-15-2012, 10:14 AM   #1
Malibu Larry
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Default Intermittent hard crank/no start problem (Not Passlock)

PROBLEM: Car has intermittent starting problem. Car will start in morning, and usually several times during day. However, car will have starting problem if attempt to start occurs about 1 to 2 hrs after last drive. Car will crank, not start. However, after this, wait 15-20 minutes after episode, and car usually starts.

HISTORY:
1. This is not a passlock issue. Replaced ignition lock cylinder. New ignition fixed that problem, and theft light is not showing now during crank/no start condition.

2. Recent work in last month included new spark plugs and wires, fuel filter replaced and fuel service.

3. Replaced fuel sender relay during one hard crank episode but made no difference in problem; car still cranked, but no start. So I rule out the fuel sender relay.

4. Had an intermittent P1189 code, low engine oil pressure switch is defective, shorting, maybe causing fuel pump not to operate. So I replaced oil pressure switch sensor which was bad, but problem persists. After this, car started fine 40 times, but then had hard crank/no start mode once again.

5. Suspect possible defective crank sensor. This has come up quite frequently in online discussion and matches intermittent starting problem precisely, including no code.

6. Do not think fuel pump is defective because it starts fine except during these intermittent issues, nor do I think BCM module defective because no other electrical or computer module malfunctions.

7. Help!
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: Intermittent hard crank/no start problem (Not Passlock)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malibu Larry View Post
PROBLEM: Car has intermittent starting problem. Car will start in morning, and usually several times during day. However, car will have starting problem if attempt to start occurs about 1 to 2 hrs after last drive. Car will crank, not start. However, after this, wait 15-20 minutes after episode, and car usually starts.
Well you've done some homework now haven't you? Very nice to see. FYI, P1189 won't cause this issue. Usually only thing you'll see is the oil pressure light in the dash won't come on with the key on engine off. It's a type D DTC, I think, and will not set the check engine light, only stores failure records. Back to the no start. Is the check engine light on with the key on, engine off and not cranking when the car doesn't start? If the check engine light is NOT on with the key on, engine off and not cranking, the car won't start. It's a quick check to see that the PCM is recognizing no RPM, in the good old days of ODB1 it would be a code 12. Code would not store but again it was only determining the ability of the PCM to function at some level. Most likely you have a bad ignition switch ( electrical part, not the lock cylinder itself), however fuse blocks can and do fail on these cars and by doing those checks we can determine the cause. Get back to us with any questions.

Last edited by Rodents; 01-31-2012 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:43 AM   #3
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Default Re: Intermittent hard crank/no start problem (Not Passlock)

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Do not think fuel pump is defective because it starts fine except during these intermittent issues, nor do I think BCM module defective because no other electrical or computer module malfunctions.
I think Rodents is probably pointing you in the right direction but a couple of things to consider:

For your statement above, there is no valid reason to conclude that the fuel pump or the BCM might not be failing intermittantly......or the connections to same or any other electrical component either for that matter. That's why intermittant problems are so nasty to fix.

All this starting trouble puts a strain on the battery. At some point, hopefully after you have located the root cause, you probably want to consider changing the battery too.
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:35 PM   #4
Malibu Larry
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Default Re: Intermittent hard crank/no start problem (Not Passlock)

Rodents, thank you for your response. I do not recall any panel lights being on during the crank/no start fits, including the check engine light. My biggest problem is that this intermittent start issue is impossible to duplicate at the dealership or when it occurs with me and I'm on the road. And with no codes or lights revealing, I'm left scratching my head. I hadn't thought of the ignition switch, but it would make sense, I just wish I had dealt with it when replacing the lock cylinder. But what is the significance of the car starting after 15-20 minutes everytime? The articles I've read about the crank sensor suggest that it heats up, goes out of spec, then returns to specs within that 15-20 minutes and away you go?

I'm just perplexed.

Oh... more detail: car has about 145,000 miles, and otherwise seems in good condition.
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Old 01-15-2012, 01:16 PM   #5
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Default Re: Intermittent hard crank/no start problem (Not Passlock)

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I do not recall any panel lights being on during the crank/no start fits, including the check engine light. My biggest problem is that this intermittent start issue is impossible to duplicate at the dealership or when it occurs with me and I'm on the road. And with no codes or lights revealing, I'm left scratching my head. I hadn't thought of the ignition switch, but it would make sense, I just wish I had dealt with it when replacing the lock cylinder. But what is the significance of the car starting after 15-20 minutes everytime? The articles I've read about the crank sensor suggest that it heats up, goes out of spec, then returns to specs within that 15-20 minutes and away you go?

I'm just perplexed.
No significance other than that's just how this one is. Some fail and stay that way, others fail initially on key on then you'll see the voltage climb as time passes, you'd have to watch it with a meter to see it of course and be on the correct leg of the switch. Others will start fine and as run time gets longer, voltage can drop out sometimes, of course that let's you sit whereever it drops out. No codes on this vehicle, some later model stuff may set codes, technology advances and the number of available codes does as well. There may be a power mode mismatch code B1369, B1374 or B1379 maybe in the BCM. Yeah, I like to do lock cylinders and ignition switches at the same time on these cars. Some people think you're trying to rip them off until what happened to you happens to them, then I'd like to tell them 'I told you so'. Crank sensor can do what you said. I don't replace many crank sensors in a years time, of course that means tomorrow I'll do two but really, on these cars the ignition switch is much more probable. The giveaway is the check engine light. It's not on at key on, it isn't going to start. When the light comes on the car should start then as the PCM is powered up at that point.
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: Intermittent hard crank/no start problem (Not Passlock)

Sadly, I replaced the ignition switch. The car started 6 times before failing to start in the usual fail sequence. Five minute drive home, popped into the house for about 5 minutes, came back out to run an errand and... crank, no start. Same O, same O. Took another car, ran errand, two hours later, Malibu started right up. Now we can scratch ignition switch off the list. Back to my crank sensor theory?
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Old 01-27-2012, 05:37 AM   #7
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Default Re: Intermittent hard crank/no start problem (Not Passlock)

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Back to my crank sensor theory?
I think you need a list of actual tests to perform when it is in "failure mode" to actually FIND the problem.......like measuring the fuel rail pressure and checking for spark.

Continuing to change parts based only on a guess, regardless of who is doing the guessing, is usually an expensive proposition.

The ignition switch had a high probability of being right, based on prior history, but the odds go down a lot for other guesses.
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:02 AM   #8
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Default Re: Intermittent hard crank/no start problem (Not Passlock)

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The giveaway is the check engine light. It's not on at key on, it isn't going to start. When the light comes on the car should start then as the PCM is powered up at that point.
Was the check engine light on or not when you turned the key on and it didn't start? If the check engine light does not illuminate in the key on engine off state, the car will not start and most likely have no fuel pressure, or spark or possibly both.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malibu Larry View Post
Sadly, I replaced the ignition switch. The car started 6 times before failing to start in the usual fail sequence. Five minute drive home, popped into the house for about 5 minutes, came back out to run an errand and... crank, no start. Same O, same O. Took another car, ran errand, two hours later, Malibu started right up. Now we can scratch ignition switch off the list. Back to my crank sensor theory?
If the ECM isn't powered up properly, the crank sensor can work fine and the car won't start. You put the ignition switch in for what reason? Did you shotgun it or diagnose it?

Last edited by Rodents; 01-31-2012 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:51 AM   #9
Malibu Larry
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Default Re: Intermittent hard crank/no start problem (Not Passlock)

Thanks to all for the continued help and advice. The check engine light is on when I'm in the crank-no start mode. I'm not checking anything because the car routinely fails when I'm on the road and starts after waiting 15 minutes and, further, because I'm not competent to do some of the electrical checks being suggested. It did it again this morning, same sequence: short 5 minute drive, 45 minutes time elapses, then crank-no start (check engine light on), then rest 15 minutes, and it starts. I've taken it in 4 times to mechanics who cannot duplicate the problem. So, yes, from my long list of repairs in my first post, to my last effort with the ignition switch, I'm making the best educated guesses I can and, thus far, most the work has been necessary, i.e., I needed the ignition lock cyclinder to deal with the passlock issue, it needed the new fuel filter, spark plug wires, etc., because of 140K maintenance, the oil pressure sender was bad, etc. The ignition switch probably was unnecessary as it turns out, but, as was suggested, it had a high probability of success. I'm very frustrated because I have no confidence in the shops around here to duplicate the issue much less repair it and I only have a 15 minute window to diagnose everytime it does fail, even if I was competent to diagnose.
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Old 01-31-2012, 03:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: Intermittent hard crank/no start problem (Not Passlock)

My mother had a '79 Dodge K car that would run fine when it ran, but would routinely fail about every 1/2 hour. She'd wait 10-15 minutes, it'd start up and run again for a long time. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Finally figured out that the electronic ignition, mounted in the airflow behind the left headlight to help keep it cooled, was overheating even on a 20F winter day, failing, then cooling off and un-failing.

The fix (this was mid 1980's) was to remove it, get a vacuum-advance point-style distributor from a junkyard VW, replace the electronic distributor, and Voila!

Yours sounds eerily like the ignition alternately working and failing. That's a well-known characteristic of electronic parts. I'm not saying it's your ignition, but the symptoms would lead me to suspect it and direct my efforts there. These days it isn't as easy as just swapping parts like I did with my Mom's car.
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