Twice now my car engine has stopped cranking mid start. It doesn't seem to be a power problem as the radio, wipers ... all seem to work. The ignition key simply doesn't do anything anymore.

In once case waiting a few seconds resolved the problem and it started right up. In another case I had to roll it down a hill and pop the clutch to get it going.

Most of the time my car just works as expected, it is just these two incidents. I don't want to get stranded somewhere though so I'd prefer to fix it before it happens again.

I am thinking it isn't power since the car likely wouldn't have started that first time if the battery was dead.

In both cases the car did start, it seemed to be limited to the engine cranking, not its ability to actually run.

Could it be the solenoid on the starter? If not, what is the most likely culprit here?

  • Had exactly the same problem. First time this happened. The car was sitting for about and hour in a hot parking lot and when I tried to start it it cranked for abouit two seconds and then stopped. The battery is new and the starter cranked fast. I opened the hood and waited about five minutes and it started fine. Could it be a heat problem?
    – user19344
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 13:21

7 Answers 7


As starter motors get old they can require higher current in order to turn successfully, so despite you having no obvious power problem I would first check your battery - also because this is a simple thing to replace if necessary.

It could indeed be the starter solenoid, so having a look at both this and the starter motor itself would probably be my next option.

  • 1
    That's the first symptom we see on our club airplanes when the battery is starting to get weak. Prop likes to hang up and requires another twist of the key to get it going and started. Can happen even if battery tests fine, but replacing the battery immediately cures it! Note however, that aviation batteries are really small for the amount of juice the starters need compared to cars (battery smaller than a normal 4-cyl car has to turn over a 540cid engine with a big prop hanging off the end). Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 20:15

A loose battery terminal can exhibit the same symptom. Carefully check both ends of your main (thick) battery cables to ensure that they're tight and not overly corroded, etc.


As already stated, the problems that you describe can be caused by two things i have described all

1-Broken Starter:

  • The Starter Brushes may have failed (or a starter coil broke) in which case you will need to have the starter repaired/replaced this will be your last port of call

2-No/Too Little Current to Starter:

  • If you hear a click when you turn the ignition and the battery voltage is high enough (12.6v) starter motor not getting enough current to begin turning the engine.
  • As bob said, check your battery terminals for residue on the terminals, if this is the case you should clean with Bicarb and water. also check that you cannot move the terminal clamps on the terminals. if so, you will need to tighten.
  • An issue could be the wiring from the battery to the Starter. you can take some jumper leads and use them to connect the positive terminal of the battery directly to the Starter ( you will need to touch the lead to the point where the original wire from the battery is mounted) - if you do this and the starter turns, you have eliminated a starter fault.

  • Lastly, check if you have an immobiliser installed in the car, most times you may have a fault there. (do you have a bypass switch so that you can de-activate the immobiliser)


Since you have had the problem twice, I assume you have a real genuine problem with the car. However, let me share my experience with a 2011 Toyota Yaris.

The 2011 Toyota Yaris has a start/stop system, and you don't need to turn the key for as long as the engine has started. Momentarily turning the key is enough, and the car computer takes care of supplying the starter motor current until the engine has actually started.

However, that's only the theory. Once when starting my car on the morning, I actually found that the engine cranked for a very brief period of time but did not start properly. Turning the key (momentarily) again fortunately started the engine.

I assume this was a random hiccup in the electrical systems. Because it has occurred only once and never repeated, I assume it was just a random fault and not a real problem. This may not be the same problem that you're having, but I would wait until the problem occurs for a few more times until taking the car to the garage.

You didn't mention how old (miles? years?) your car is. This could perhaps help in diagnosing the problem.


If it beginning to turn over than stops turning over motor just as motor about to start ,but you can still hear starter motor noise , it probaby the drive clutch ( drive pinion, bendix drive) in the starter motor,the thing that turns the flywheel


Starter relay is going bad (relay not solinod ) or check to see if theres a battery in your key for the security alarm


All so check the timing if the belt is too tight then the engine is overloading the starter.

  • 1
    How does timing play a role here?
    – Zaid
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 15:11

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