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I have a 2003 Pontiac Sunfire.

If I turn the key to 'ON', the electrics turn on. Lights, radio, fans, the works. Everything is normal. If I turn the key to 'START', then the whole car dies. Everything goes out, lights, fans, dash lights, everything. Turning it off then back to 'ON', and I get nothing.

If I leave it for a few hours, I can turn it back to ON and get the electronics will turn on. I've checked the fuses and they're fine.

Any ideas what could be wrong?

  • Does it ever start? How's the ignition switch? This sounds like an intermittent problem – Zaid Mar 14 '16 at 6:28
  • It started fine yesterday. I've never seen something like this before. – Mark Robinson Mar 14 '16 at 6:33
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    Could you test your battery? A weak battery is another possible cause for what you're seeing. – Zaid Mar 14 '16 at 6:36
  • Agreed with Zaid, battery is the first thing you check. First check if the clamps are on tightly. If they are, remove them and clean them and the posts with a wire brush. If still nothing, then test the battery itself, it's possibly dead. – I have no idea what I'm doing Mar 14 '16 at 9:19
  • Does the car have an immobilizer? – HandyHowie Mar 14 '16 at 9:48
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One of your connections at the battery is bad. Your vehicle should most likely be a side post battery. Loosen the battery bolt a little, wiggle the connections, then tighten it back down and see if that helps. Ensure both sides are tight.

  • This did it. I checked the voltage at the terminals, it was wandering all over the place. I unscrewed the terminals, which I could do by hand. Checked the voltage, it was fine. Screwed them down firmly and the car started. The car started with a rather angry noise, so I hooked it up to my battery charger and left it. Now it starts with no problems. – Mark Robinson Mar 16 '16 at 3:09
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    Using the charger to get the charge back up to snuff was a good choice! – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 16 '16 at 10:03

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