Cranks, doesn't start, wait, then it fires up right away

  • 2000 SATURN SL1
  • 1.9L
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • 143,000 MILES
I bought a car for delivery driving, short distance (under 4 miles each way). After driving it for two weeks, it wouldn't start on an intermittent basis. It always cranks fine. But on 3 occasions within 48 hours, I tried to start the car at least several consecutive time without success. On the first two occasions, I waited about 5 minutes, and it started up fine. The third time, it was at a garage, and it failed to start during several rounds of cranking. Giving it some gas produced a smell of gasoline. Then it started, about a half hour later as folks in the gargage were about to start diagnostic tests (and I got billed 65 dollars for a half hour diagnostic work, though I doubt they did any testing). Earlier that day I had the car in another shop to figure out way the check engine light was on, and they got a code for an ignition coil, which they replaced. The ran more smoothly, but the no start problem reappeared a couple hours later.
Do you
have the same problem?
Friday, July 10th, 2015 AT 2:04 PM

1 Reply

All "crank, no start" conditions are approached in the same way. Every engine requires certain functions to be able to run. Some of these functions rely on specific components to work and some components are part of more than one function so it is important to see the whole picture to be able to conclude anything about what may have failed. Also, these functions can ONLY be tested during the failure. Any other time and they will simply test good because the problem isn't present at the moment.
If you approach this in any other way, you are merely guessing and that only serves to replace unnecessary parts and wastes money.

Every engine requires spark, fuel and compression to run. That's what we have to look for.

These are the basics that need to be tested and will give us the info required to isolate a cause.

1) Test for spark at the plug end of the wire using a spark tester. If none found, check for power supply on the + terminal of the coil with the key on.

2) Test for injector pulse using a small bulb called a noid light. If none found, check for power supply at one side of the injector with the key on.

3) Use a fuel pressure gauge to test for correct fuel pressure, also noticing if the pressure holds when key is shut off.

Once you have determined which of these functions has dropped out,
you will know which system is having the problem.
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Friday, July 10th, 2015 AT 3:19 PM

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