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I have searched and this question does not appear to be in Stack. Will be as concise as possible.

Recently on our Sorento pushing the start button only turns the motor about 1 time out of 10 (if it turns, it always starts; it's the not turning part that's the issue).

I normally started it by stepping on the brake and pushing the button for about 2 seconds. Thanks to this well-done YT video I learned you can also bypass the brake by pressing once to get orange, then holding it for about 6 secs. till it starts. Well - the same problem, so I am ruling out the brake sensor.

What happens on that second push is, the dash lights and all accessories go on, then around that 6 second point the lights and accessories go out - I believe this is normal to shunt all power to the starter - and I hear a "click". Not a loud one and best as I can tell, sounds like in the engine compartment on driver's side. But may be in the dash somewhere. Not so much a mechanical click either as I would expect from a solenoid, but more an electric relay kind of click. Finally about 4 seconds later, the dash lights and accessories come back on, and the start button is green, but the engine never turned.

So my two questions are:

  1. most obvious, does this sound like a starter issue or an electrical issue
  2. what would be the next logical test, and how to do that. Also, if I do wind up removing the starter, is there a reliable way to test it for good/bad.

Thank you for your help/feedback.

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I had a similar problem to this once, and the problem turned out to be a loose battery terminal. It was connected enough to power the lights but when I tried to start all the lights went out. I'd check to make sure you don't have corrosion on your battery terminals or posts, and that the connections are good before looking at anything else.

It could be you have an intermittent sensor fault that is preventing start, this doesn't sound likely as you are hearing the solenoid click, if the ECU was preventing start you wouldn't get any click. It could also be a battery that doesn't have enough charge, that's not likely either as it's starting sometimes, if your battery didn't have enough juice you'd never get any cranking at all. It's still worth checking your OBD codes and battery voltage though to be sure.

It could also be the starter motor is on the way out, and using all the power without turning. A few tries finally gets it to move reluctantly. I don't love that but it's certainly a possibility.

If it's none of those then you most likely have an intermittent electrical short, which can be a real pain to track down. Hopefully it's something simple.

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