Hey i just wanted to ask about my girlfriends car she has been having problems with for over a year.. we had it checked but they always say nothing is wrong (usually because the car starts when they turn it off and back on) , the battery is new and everything seems too work fine...

So the problem, not every time but very very frequently.. when she gets in her car it doesn't start up. The lights and radio work perfectly fine. It isnt the battery especially since its quite new. the car makes NO noise when you turn the key.. just nothing happens. (usually she will wait a few minutes and keep trying.. eventually it turns on. except today.... she was stuck at her car for an hour and the engine didn't start)

We can only think it may have to do with the key or ignition? (the spare key does the same thing though) .. Can't think of the car make and model but its year is 2002, ill update when i get out of class so i apologize for that lack of info! Any ideas or assumptions on whats wrong and what too do.. Price tag for the fix? (money always a concern) thank you for reading!

*2002 Buick Lesabre

  • Don't know how likely it is, but the car must be in Park or Neutral to start, and the sensor that determines what gear you are in could be loose or failing. There's a clutch sensor on cars with a Manual transmission.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:07
  • What is the make/model of the car? Also, do you see any dashlights which may be blinking which says "security" or some such? Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:10
  • @Paulster2 just added it sorry about that, 2002 Buick Lesabre. And when the key is turned, everything appears normal as if you ONLY turned it so the power is turned on. (as if you aren't even turning it all the way)
    – Ryan
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:13
  • 1
    So you're saying that when you turn to the start position, the radio and headlights, etc, all stay on rather than cutting out like they normally would?
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:19
  • My car does that and if I clean off the corrosion and wiggle the cables, it will start. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 6:50

3 Answers 3


Turned out to be the starter. Needed to get it replaced. (what worked to get it started, is turn the key and tap on the starter in your engine at the same time)



  • your battery seems to be at full charge
  • the car runs fine
  • you dont hear the starter click (try to start)

I'd guess:

  • Your starter (solenoid) is failing or has a bad connection.
  • Should be < $600 total parts/labor if so.

To troubleshoot:

  • try jumpstarting the car when its not working (if it works, you can cross off the battery as a possible problem) Also make sure battery cables/ground have good connection and arent corroded
  • If the lights dim in your car, (but not considerably) that probably means that your starter is getting power and the ignition works
  • You -or your mechanic- can supply power/ground directly the starter/solenoid to eliminate all other possibilies
  • thank you for your input! ill post in the future for what was wrong with it.
    – Ryan
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:56
  • Agreed, first step should be checking if the starter is fine. Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 9:40
  • I don't think the solenoid is to blame here since there no noise at all when the key is turned. Usually when a solenoid goes bad, the electromagnet part of it will still work. You'll hear the "thunk" as the Bendix hits the flexplate, but no starter whir, because no electricity is passing through the contacts to get to the starter motor. Something is happening prior to the starter, as I don't think any juice is getting to it. Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 11:58

Due to the intermittentness of your problem and that it seems to be getting worse. Adding that there is no audible sign of anything happening, I would be looking at the ignition switch. It should be possible to take the switch mechanism off the back of the ignition lock and clean/replace the switch. If you do take the switch off, it morethanlikely will be possible to turn the switch with a screwdriver. You may be able to 'wiggle' the switch to find positions it will work/won't work, to verify it is the switch at fault.

If you do this, don't forget that the key also takes the steering lock off, so don't start the car and drive without taking the lock off.

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