Sometimes Car Will No Crank, No Start and Leave Me Stranded for a While.

Tiny
FRED33
  • MEMBER
  • 2003 NISSAN ALTIMA
  • 2.5L
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 166,000 MILES
Hi,
Just about every time I try and start my car it will not crank or start. I always have to turn the key multiple times and it usually starts, sometimes after over 20+ minutes. I'll try shifting in neutral and going to park and it always seems to start eventually. I thought maybe it might have been the neutral safety switch, so I changed it out. It seems to do a little better, but the problem is still there.
I recently washed out a little bit of oil on the cam sensor, starter, and other wires, and sprayed it with electrical cleaner spray. It didn't really help.
So I've changed out the neutral safety switch, what should be my next plan of action. I was thinking about changing out the ignition switch, or starter, but it seems like my starter cranks up the engine just fine when it gets power.
I'm going a little nuts here. There's nothing worse than being stranded. I try to nip all my car problems in the bud myself, no mechanic is going to love my car like I do. But, I feel it's coming to that point where I may have to take it in, or just start changing out parts.
Any help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your time.

Fred
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Saturday, February 1st, 2014 AT 12:20 PM

4 Replies

Tiny
JDL
  • EXPERT
Your saying the starter won't crank? Check for voltage at the starter circuit when the problem is ongoing. Check ground also. A testlite to check for voltage doesn't cost much.

If the starter has brushes, you can tap on the starter with a hammer, while a helper tries to crank it. If you get any action by tapping, may be a faulty starter?

Any testing at the starter, make sure the tranny is in park or neutral and functional parking brake is set.
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Saturday, February 1st, 2014 AT 1:15 PM
Tiny
JDL
  • EXPERT
Here is wiring diagrams, any questions just holler.
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Saturday, February 1st, 2014 AT 1:26 PM
Tiny
2CARPROS MIKE
  • ADMIN
First lets be clear on the symptoms. You're describing a no-crank condition which does include the neutral safety switch but not the camshaft position sensor. The cam sensor could cause a crank-but-no-start condition. If you can cycle the ignition switch from "run" to "crank" multiple times, and eventually the starter cranks the engine, that is typical of a starter solenoid problem, but there are still different symptoms and causes. Most commonly arced and worn contacts cause the intermittent no-crank, but you'll hear a single, rather loud clunk from the starter each time you turn the ignition switch to "crank". A similar problem can be caused by a frayed or corroded battery cable.

The second problem is a lot more rare. There are two coils of wire in the solenoid. The magnetic fields from both of them are needed to move the solenoid's plunger to engage the ring gear, then one is switched off because only the other coil's magnetic field is needed to hold it there. If one of those coils has a break, the single magnetic field from the other one may not be strong enough to move the plunger. The symptom is you have 12 volts on the solenoid terminal but it doesn't engage or make any sound. One clue is it may act up more often in cold weather due to the battery being less able to supply current, and any grease on the starter drive is thicker. Another potential clue is very often it will crank with a jump-start because of the higher voltage.

The place to start is to get it to act up, then measure the voltage on the starter's smaller solenoid terminal when a helper turns the ignition switch to "crank". If you find 12 volts there, the rest of the circuitry is working. If you don't, you can verify the starter is okay by using a heavy jumper wire to apply 12 volts there from the battery's positive terminal.

Caradiodoc
Expert
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Monday, February 3rd, 2014 AT 9:12 AM
Tiny
2CARPROS MIKE
  • ADMIN
Does your foot also have to be on the brake for this car to start? If so you may have a brake switch loose or going bad. Otherwise check for continuity through the neutral switch with it installed and the car in park. If none, check it in drive. It should be opposite from park. Then id check for wires that might be damaged in the column especially if you've got tilt steering. Your starter works so like you I doubt its the problem

Knowledge is Power
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Monday, February 3rd, 2014 AT 9:16 AM

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