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Old 01-27-2007, 03:51 AM   #1
patrcarl
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Default 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

I have a 2001 SL2 with 90,000 miles. This is the fourth time in 3 weeks that this has happened. Car runs great, but when I take it on a short trip a few blocks away just running errands, all of a sudden it won't start. All the lights come on inside the car, radio and A/C work fine, windows work great, but it doesn't even make a sound like it's turning over when I turn the key. No sounds at all from the engine

First time it happened, I was at a gas station. After filling up it wouldn't start. A cop was there and gave me a jump, and it started right up.

2nd time, I was at the transmission place and just got the transmission fluid and coolant flushed, oil changed, and serpentine belt changed. They took a look at it, tightened the bolts on the battery, and it started right up.

3rd time I had just driven it 2 blocks to the post office. Came out and it wouldn't start again. Tried to jump it, nadda. Waited 1 hour for the tow truck and tried it many times while I was waiting. When he got there (I hadn't tried it in 1/2 hour or so as I was making calls), it started right up! I drove it to the transmission shop who checked everything they could think of. Battery was fine, alternator was fine, battery wires looked good, starter checked out. They told me if it happens again, try rocking the car which will move the starter a bit in case there is a very small bad spot on it.

Now, 4th time, I tried rocking it, tightening battery bolts, jumping it, and nothing. All lights work great, A/C, radio and windows work great, I turn the key and I hear no sounds from engine, not even the starter! Each time this happens, I have less than 1/4 tank of gas (first time I had just filled up because I was on fumes). The transmission place can't figure out what it is, and I am hesitant to take it to the dealership and pay the exhorbitant prices. A few other things that might help - my key is totally worn down, and I can take the key out while the engine is running (convenient if I forgot something in my house), so I wonder if the key isn't hitting something that triggers the starter. I always run my engine down to fumes, but this time there is 1/8th of a tank left...maybe it's the fuel pump? I can get a hold of a code reader from a friend if necessary. Please, if anyone can help me, neither I nor the transmission place can figure this out, and now I can't start my car for the weekend!
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Old 01-27-2007, 05:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

With no sound coming from the engine compartment when you turn the key, the starter is not functioning. Either the starter is not getting the electric current it needs to turn the motor over (bad starter solenoid switch/corroded battery terminals and or starter terminals/ faulty ignition switch) or there is a dead spot on the starter comutator-brush assembly. If you have a dead spot, sometimes lightly tapping the starter with a hammer will cause the starter to work, atleast you will know if the starter needs to be replaced do to a dead spot. You can also check for current present on the starter terminals with a volt meter next time this no start event happens. That will tell you if the ignition switch/ solenoid valve is working or the battery terminals are not bringing current to the starter.Fuel pumps and starters are two seperate systems.Fuel system will not cause the starter to not work. You can also bypass the starter solenoid switch by connecting the two terminals with a screw driver. Unfortunately, you have to test each part of the starter system to isolate the cause of the intermitant no start problem.
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Old 01-27-2007, 06:30 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

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Originally Posted by paulo View Post
If you have a dead spot, sometimes lightly tapping the starter with a hammer will cause the starter to work, atleast you will know if the starter needs to be replaced do to a dead spot.
The transmission place mentioned this, and told me to rock the car back and forth, which would move it past the bad spot on the brush. I will try the hammer trick, but, where do I find the starter in the engine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulo View Post
You can also bypass the starter solenoid switch by connecting the two terminals with a screw driver. Unfortunately, you have to test each part of the starter system to isolate the cause of the intermitant no start problem.
I would definately like to try this if the hammer trick does not work. Sounds like this is a no-fail way to start my car if this happens and nothing else works. Can you walk me through this one too? Thank you so much for your help!
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Old 01-27-2007, 06:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

Got another battery to test in it?
Thats what mine needed when it wouldn't start earlier this week. Had an (I think) original ACDelco battery to test with and it started right up (vs a 3.5yr old NAPA that failed). Probably should have just left it in, but with the history of problems with 'em I didn't want to for long.
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Old 01-27-2007, 04:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

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Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post
Got another battery to test in it?
Well, all the electronics work perfectly (radio, A/C, windows, etc.) and the battery and alternator both tested out perfectly when I was at the transmission place, and the battery is less than 1 year old. It must be something with the wiring or the starter...Keep the suggestions commin'!
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Old 01-27-2007, 04:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

Time to check your starter.
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Old 01-27-2007, 05:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

My guess is neutral safety switch.
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Old 01-27-2007, 05:24 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

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Originally Posted by richpin06 View Post
Time to check your starter.
Transmission people checked that too, and said it works perfect, but might have a spot on the brush that doesn't make contact anymore. They said if the car won't start again, rock the car a few times, which will move the starter past that part of the brush that is worn down, and will make contact again. Well, I rolled it back an entire car length, and tried starting it while it is rolling forward (kind of popping the clutch while moving the brush in the starter), and that didn't work either. The Transmission shop said the starter is fine...any other suggestions, or do you still think I need to replace the starter?
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Old 01-27-2007, 05:25 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

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Originally Posted by topcat View Post
My guess is neutral safety switch.
What's a neutral safety switch, and where do I find it? btw, my car is a manual transmission if that makes a difference.
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Old 01-27-2007, 05:43 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

If when the ignition switch is actuated,the starter motor does not operate at all,but the solenoid clicks,the problem lies with the main solenoid contacts or the starter motor itself.
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Old 01-27-2007, 05:57 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

Quote:
Originally Posted by richpin06 View Post
If when the ignition switch is actuated,the starter motor does not operate at all,but the solenoid clicks,the problem lies with the main solenoid contacts or the starter motor itself.
Though I am not sure what a solenoid is, I can tell you that I do not hear any clicking sound at all...I turn the key and hear the crickets outside...nothing at all. Not a sound.
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Old 01-27-2007, 06:26 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

Quote:
Originally Posted by patrcarl View Post
Though I am not sure what a solenoid is, I can tell you that I do not hear any clicking sound at all...I turn the key and hear the crickets outside...nothing at all. Not a sound.
The solenoid is part of the starter....Ok no sound...,the solenoid could be bad. To check the starter you need to connect a jumper wire from the battery (+) to the starter(S) terminal on the starter.If the starter motor now operates it is ok and the problem is in the ignition switch,clutch switch or the wiring.
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Old 01-27-2007, 06:38 PM   #13
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

Quote:
Originally Posted by richpin06 View Post
The solenoid is part of the starter....Ok no sound...,the solenoid could be bad. To check the starter you need to connect a jumper wire from the battery (+) to the starter(S) terminal on the starter.If the starter motor now operates it is ok and the problem is in the ignition switch,clutch switch or the wiring.
So I just went out to work on it, and voila, it started right up. I let it run for 5 minutes, turned it off, and now it won't even make a sound again!

So, I am willing to check everything that anyone wants me to check, but I need to know what I am looking for. From all the parts that have been mentioned in this post, the only one that I can locate is the battery. Are there any diagrams online, or could you possibly walk me through the steps of finding the starter, and what to do once I find it? Thank you very much for your help!
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Old 01-27-2007, 06:43 PM   #14
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

The "flat spot on the armature" theory most people have is less common than people think. What this USUALLY is, is unevenly worn contacts in the solenoid. One side wears down a little more than the other. Sometimes the connection is made, sometimes not. A tap with a hammer can jiggle the contact plunger just enough for it to make the connection. A tap with a hammer isn't going to rotate the armature at all.

BTW, rolling the car back and forth doesn't effect the starter at all. For the starter to be effected by rolling the car, you would have to have the transmission in gear and the starter drive engaged in the flywheel.

Also, I am wondering why you are having a transmission shop troubleshoot your electrical problems.

It's difficult for me to explain to someone how to fix this when they don't seem to know even the basic fundamentals of how cars work. If I had the car in my shop, I could find the problem in 10 minutes.
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Old 01-27-2007, 06:49 PM   #15
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

Quote:
Originally Posted by patrcarl View Post
What's a neutral safety switch, and where do I find it? btw, my car is a manual transmission if that makes a difference.

The neutral safety switch is a safety device to keep you from starting the engine while the transmission is in gear. The switch for manual transmission cars is located near the clutch pedal arm. Hence, the requirement that the clutch pedal be pushed down in order for the starter to operate.
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Old 01-27-2007, 09:40 PM   #16
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Default Re: 2001 SL2 Won't start or turnover

I know you said they tested the starter, but you're having the exact same problems I just got over.

It was in fact the starter. Heres the thread if you want to look at it.

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=92807

It's quite easy to replace, I was able to do it, although it is tedious, and you will, WILL get dirty
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