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Old 10-02-2009, 12:32 PM   #1
melisaturn
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Dizzy Tries to start... then dead

My wife's car (97 Saturn SL2) has an odd problem.
She went to start it and nothing. No dash lights nothing. (except the clock is working.)
I messed with the steering wheel and lock cyllinder and it started to turn over, lights came on, etc. Then dead again before it would start.
It began starting a few days later, worked for a week, then dead again.
any ideas??

Lock cylinder, ignition switch, coil, starter?

I also noticed when the car was acting dead that when I turn the key on the clock would go out. Power drain?

Thanks for any help.

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Old 10-02-2009, 12:48 PM   #2
quantumech
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2000 SL1
Default Re: Tries to start... then dead

Have the battery and alternator checked, especially if that battery has been in there for a while. Parts stores usually will do it for free, so they can tell you when it's bad and sell you a new one. This seems most likely, since the car is not doing anything, but sounds like it is trying to due to the clock fading.

...
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Old 10-02-2009, 01:01 PM   #3
duke73
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Default Re: Tries to start... then dead

i'm finding that saturn as had quite a bit of trouble with their ignition switches and lock cylinders...sounds like the electrical portion of your ignition switch is fried...about 45 bucks at car quest and you will have to run the 30 minute relearn process after installation...several threads on here can tell you how to do that

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Old 10-02-2009, 01:17 PM   #4
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1996 SW2
Default Re: Tries to start... then dead

The ignition switch on a gen-2 is purely electromechanical. There's nothing for it to "relearn". It is, however, made by Lucas (prince of darkness ), and indeed prone to failure. But a charging system check, along with checking battery and ground connections, are all in order.

Do you ever lose the clock setting, or radio station presets?

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Old 10-02-2009, 01:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: Tries to start... then dead

Quote:
Originally Posted by melisaturn View Post
My wife's car (97 Saturn SL2) has an odd problem.

Lock cylinder, ignition switch, coil, starter?

I also noticed when the car was acting dead that when I turn the key on the clock would go out. Power drain?
When the clock dies or the radio goes dead while attempting to start is usually a power issue; battery or battery cables. A car radio needs very little power to run its clock but the starter needs welding current; the starter pulling the life out of any battery that's weak will not have any power to run the starter (click click sounds sometimes) and the radio playing or clock suddenly dying indicates the battery or cables are at fault. It could be the alternator but nit at this point. Turn on the room airconditioner and watch the room lights dim for a moment; same scenario with the lights drawing somepower but the a/c pulls current at start and dime the room lights momentarily.

Ask yourself these simple questions.

1-How old is the battery? Over 4yrs, have it tested for capacity and whether or not it will hold a charge this winter, coming around soon. An iffy battery will surely leave you out in the cold if you live in cold winter regions.

2-What's the condition of the two battery cables? Any hint of corrosion may be a sign of severe corrosion underneath the heavy terminal connections. Side terminals are weaker than top terminals and are prone to cracking from too many people overtightening the small bolts; the size is supposed to warn anyone NOT to overtighten them othewise stripping threads or cracking the battery terminals results with replacement necessary. Poor neglect of unseen cracking of side terminals allows acid to leak out into the battery cable to eat away the copper wires; less copper wires to carry the welding currents needed to power the starter so more tightening of side terminals is the cure. Not.

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Old 10-02-2009, 01:46 PM   #6
Kngdavid
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Default Re: Tries to start... then dead

Or Your battery connection might just be loose or cracked. I had the same problem...a couple twist of the socket wrench and YES! Instant New Starter Refund. Best Trick I ever learned. Make sure you check the wires and the actual connetions to the battery. Is the insulation on your wires melting?

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Old 10-02-2009, 03:04 PM   #7
melisaturn
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Default Re: Tries to start... then dead

Battery cables and connections look good and clean. no corrosion.
I just bought a new ignition switch (electrical portion, not cylinder)
Gonna try replacing it as first step based on the majority I have read around the web.
I'll let you know.
Thanks guys.

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Old 10-02-2009, 07:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: Tries to start... then dead

Oh but its gotta to be sumptin as simple as the battry!

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Old 10-02-2009, 08:21 PM   #9
melisaturn
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Happy Re: Tries to start... then dead

It was the ignition switch.
wow what a difference.
It was a bit of a pain. I had to remove the steering wheel, turn signal/wiper controls off the column to really get in there, but it was well worth it.
Thanks for all the replies.

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