let me start off first by saying, I'n not much of a car guy, which is unfortunate because I feel like I could have saved myself a lot of money over the years. With that being said, I'm not opposed to getting my hands dirty and trying to fix an issue myself.

My wife's 2003 Pontiac Grand Am has had issues over the last year with sporadically starting. On many occasions we have had to have it towed to an auto shop, but each time it miraculously decides to start backup at some point while at the shop. We have taken it to two different mechanics, and after replacing the starter, they still have been unable to figure out what the issue is. Last night the car died again, and we had it towed back to the house this time, in hopes that it would start back up by the morning. Unfortunately it didn't, and I'm stuck trying to figure out what the issue could be.

When you go to start the car, the lights, dash, and radio all come on, but the car does not crank. With the hood up, I can hear it clicking from the fuse box, and a buzzing/hissing from somewhere near the engine. I doubt it's an issue with the battery, as we replaced that 2 weeks ago, and with the starter being roughly a year old, I feel like the issue shouldn't be there either. One possibility I have read about was the anti-theft system misfiring and locking the car down. The security light on the dash does blink when I turn the car to the on position, but I'm unsure as to whether this is truly the issue, as I would think the car would unlock after so many hours.

Does anyone have suggestions as to what could be causing this issue, and some ideas on how to fix it?

  • 2
    I wonder if the buzzing is the starter spinning, but not engaged into the ring gear?
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 20:34
  • Is this something could cause it to sporadically start? Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 20:40
  • It is possible that sometimes the pinion on the starter meshes correctly and turns the engine over and it starts, then other times the pinion drops out and leaves you with the buzzing noise. I would have expected a new starter to have fixed this unless it is the ring gear that is badly worn.
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 20:45
  • Have the symptoms always been the same or are there a few different failure modes?
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 20:45
  • Does it sound like the engine starts to turn over very briefly,then stops?
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 20:48

1 Answer 1


Seeing as the starter is not very old, I think the fault may be the relay in the fuse box. Try replacing the relay. I think the buzzing may just be an electric pump running for the abs brakes or something like that and nothing to do with the starter problem. The relay will be the one that is clicking when you turn the ignition to position 3.

  • Thanks Howie, I will try this when I get home tonight and let you know if it works or not. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 20:58
  • If there is an identical relay in your fuse box, you could try temporarily swapping them just to prove the point.
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 21:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .