1997 Pontiac Grand Prix 97 Grand Prix intermittent start

Tiny
TROGG56
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 60,000 MILES
Greetings,

This may be a bit lengthy so please bear with me. My wife's 97 GT (60K miles) has had an intermittent start problem for awhile now. 9 times out of ten, the car starts right up and runs fine but occasionally when you turn the key, the starter engages but won't spin the engine for a half a second and then starts right up. Other times, when you hit the start position on the key, nothing happens. You can usually turn the key off and back on a couple of times and the car starts right up or just hold it and around a half a second later the starter kicks in and works. When it's running, there are no warning lights, it doesn't overheat, runs fine and is very driveable.
Until this morning, this was only happening with a hot engine but now it will do it on a cold start as well.
It really acts like a dead battery or something dragging the battery down but even if the car sits for over a week, it will usually start right up.
Here is what I've done so far:
Ignition switch harness was replaced at about 40K miles due to a AC fan issue.
I've replaced the battery, the starter, redid the battery connections and replaced the main ignition relay as well. Alternator is putting 14.4 volts across the battery. I don't have a code scanner and am afraid to take it to get it scanned in case it strands me as I can't afford a tow. It doesn't act like the park switch as most of the time the starter will engage, just not spin the engine for half a second or so. Other times, the starter will not engage for a half second or so then fire right up.
I'm at wits end on this one. We can't drive the car as we don't trust it and it is really starting to cause problems as we need it. The car has been driven less than 100 miles in the last two years due to this. I'm almost thinking the battery is just not being charged enough but as I said, 9 times out of 10, it fires right up, even after sitting for a week or more.
What really scares me is the thought of something in the engine not letting it spin but as I said, the way it runs and drives gives no hint of a problem. The last time I took it out, it was twenty miles down the interstate and back home in traffic on back roads then I let it sit in the driveway in the sun ( 90 degress in Florida) running in drive with the AC on for an hour with no issues. I turned it off, waited a minute and then no start the first try and fired right up the second.
We've had three GTPs and this GT in the family but none of the others has done anything resembling this. My current 02 GTP has 160K miles and still runs like the day I bought it off of the showroom floor.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Friday, June 4th, 2010 AT 9:25 AM

2 Replies

Tiny
GHOULPN
  • MEMBER
I have a 94 Grand Prix with almost the exact same issue. Over the past 2 years Ive done the battery, cables, fuses, relay, and 7 starters ( all of which seemed to work perfectly when I returned them).

A gearhead at my local NAPA suggested I wasnt getting enough voltage to the starter motor. He suggested I check the small stand-alone wire on the starter solenoid. The end connector did look dirty but not corroded, but just to be sure, I cut the wire and put a new connector on. I also took apart the connecter for this harness and sprayed a good, safe eclectrical contact cleaner inside it.

The car started perfectly about a week and half, but now the problem has resurfaced, though not as severe. I am sure the problem lies in this circuit, just havent found it yet.

Anyway, I have spoken to 2 other Pontiac owners in my area who also have the same issue, seems to be a common problem for these cars, although no one seems to know for sure what the cure is.

Hope this can at least give you a new direction to look and maybe help. Paul
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Thursday, June 10th, 2010 AT 12:17 PM
Tiny
TROGG56
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the reply ghoulpn,

It is indeed a bizzare issue. My next move is to replace the battery cables with OEM replacements as I'm convinced it is a connection issue in that area. They are pretty pricey though so will need to wait for funds. I retightened everything the other day, and so far, it's been fine but we still don't trust it.
We've had three GTPs and this GT in the family but the GT is the only one with this issue. Living in Florida close to the coast, connections are a constant headache and the rubber caps on the battery connections had caused us alot of grief as they just hold moisture in this climate so I removed them a long time ago and use a good corrosion preventer.
Thanks again.
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Thursday, June 10th, 2010 AT 12:57 PM

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