Basically each time I turn the ignition, one of three things happens:

  1. Car starts with no issues
  2. Starter cranks but engine doesn't start
  3. Starter doesn't crank at all (but e.g. dash lights will go dim, suggesting power is being diverted somewhere)

The crazy thing is, I can get all three of these in one sitting. Just now I got scenario #2 two or three times, then scenario #3 about three times, before the car started.

The battery is two years old. I never get the starter clicking noise that typically indicates a nearly dead battery. It usually starts eventually, though it could be after a minute or two of trying. I cleaned the battery contacts in an attempt to remedy, had no issues for a week, but now it's back pretty regularly.

Mostly I don't understand how the car goes from cranking, to not cranking, to starting.

  • To clarify #2 you're saying that the starter turns the engine over but it doesn't start?
    – Ben
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 0:52
  • Fuel filter or pump issues??? Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 0:56
  • @Ben yes, I'll clarify. I suspected the fuel pump, but that doesn't explain why sometimes the starter does nothing.
    – Tahlor
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 5:00
  • Well the starter seems to be good, first place I’d check is a short in the ignition wiring, maybe when you turn the key something in the barrel is worn and sometimes it shorts and other times it works, just a suggestion Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


It appears to have been the starter. Eventually it didn't start at all, and I replaced it, which I was hesitant to do since it was under the intake manifold. Battery is fine, I'm guessing some internal component of the old starter was failing, possibly increasing the internal resistance, since it seemed to start better with an additional power source connected to the battery.

  • When I encounter these types of issues, I always go to the starter wire and check for power. If the starter wire is getting power but it doesn't turn over, then the starter motor is likely at fault. Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 19:57

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