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Sometimes cranks but doesn't start

This is a discussion on Sometimes cranks but doesn't start within the General Help forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; I have a 1998 T/A with the LS1 and Auto tranny. Somtimes when you turn the key to start it ...

  1. #1
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    Sometimes cranks but doesn't start

    I have a 1998 T/A with the LS1 and Auto tranny. Somtimes when you turn the key to start it it cranks and cranks but doesn't start. If you keep turning the key off and on and let it crank for a few seconds each time, it eventually will start like nothing was ever wrong. I can hear the fuel pump so I put a spark checker on one plug wire and when this happens there is no spark. What would create an intermittent spark loss? It's not every time but it seems to be getting worse. Any ideas? Thanks

  2. #2
    Veteran 0rion's Avatar
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    any codes? Could be as simple as an ignition relay or a crank sensor.

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    I don't see any check engine light or service engine soon light. If I had a code, would it be on all the time?

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    Veteran 0rion's Avatar
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    yes....it should be. You may have some history codes stored but if there was a sensor bad that was causing your spark issue it would most likely trigger the light. Check your ignition relay.

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    Is the ignition relay the same as another relay so I could swap two relays and see if the problem goes away? Just a thought. I'll have Autozone check for history codes. Thanks

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    Senior Member JayTA98's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrmowerguy View Post
    Is the ignition relay the same as another relay so I could swap two relays and see if the problem goes away? Just a thought. I'll have Autozone check for history codes. Thanks
    won't hurt to change the relay they are pretty cheap. I'm also assuming that your security light is off right?

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    Electrical Engineer KMdef9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 0rion View Post
    Check your ignition relay.
    What I would suggest as well, relays get intermittent when they begin to go bad.

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    Junior Member DirtyJerzZ28's Avatar
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    You can also check the igintion switch, and solinoid, also check of the connections at each and the starter tfor proper seating, connecttion, and corrosion. When it does start, does it sound like the starter is struggling, and when it didn't start does the solinoid engage?

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    Electrical Engineer KMdef9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtyJerzZ28 View Post
    You can also check the igintion switch, and solinoid, also check of the connections at each and the starter tfor proper seating, connecttion, and corrosion. When it does start, does it sound like the starter is struggling, and when it didn't start does the solinoid engage?

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    Do you mean the ignition solenoid?


    When my solenoid went bad it went completely, it didnt go intermittently.

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    Junior Member DirtyJerzZ28's Avatar
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    I do. Sometimes the fail different ways, most commonly they fail completely but CA become intermittent. I have seen ignition switches that also become intermitent aand either hang up on contact or fail to concract at all.

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    I believe the igniition relay and starter relay are interchangeable if your want to swap and see if that affects what kind of trouble you have.

  12. #12
    Junior Member DirtyJerzZ28's Avatar
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    Interchangeable as in you can do the job of others or replaceable? The ignition switch controls power to systematic by engaging the ignition power supply to certain devices and controls the soliniod telling it to engage the starter.

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    Interchangeable as in you can take the ignition relay out, take the starter relay out, plug the starter relay into the ignition relay socket, and vice versa. If the intermittent problem is caused by the ignition relay, then his new intermittent symptom after the swap would be the car not cranking at all.

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    old timer blue02Z's Avatar
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    I wonder if you check valve in you fuel pump is relieving pressure after it sits. That would be why you have to turn the key back and forth to build up pressure again

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    Veteran 0rion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blue02Z View Post
    I wonder if you check valve in you fuel pump is relieving pressure after it sits. That would be why you have to turn the key back and forth to build up pressure again
    he says it's not getting any spark when this happens

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    old timer blue02Z's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 0rion View Post
    he says it's not getting any spark when this happens
    ah dang i didnt see that, well then yeah somehow ignition related. need to definintaly get it scanned

  17. #17
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    WOW, you all have been really busy working on my problem. I'm very impressed with all the response. It will be Wed before I can swap those relays or buy a new one. I'm not real sure where they are but I'm sure I can find them. I'll look for a box under the hood first and then on the fuse panel inside the cabin. One of the questions was about the starter and how it sounds. When I turn the key to the start position the starter kicks right in and spins the motor easily. There is no delay or sounds like the starter laboring hard. I just keep turning the key back and forth, letting the starter spin the motor for 1-2 seconds. After 20-30 attempts the car hits right off like nothing was ever wrong. It started this in Sept or so and only happened a few times before I put it away for the winter. It's a fair weather convertible I drive for pleasure. I really want to keep it nice. I start it every week or so and move it around and now I can pretty much count on it happening at least once between moving it out of the garage and back in later.

  18. #18
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    Don't want to jinx it, but that sounds very much like it could be a flaky ignition relay. (It and the starter relay are under the hood in the same 1 of the 2 electrical boxes on the drivers side). I actually had the opposite problem. My car would randomly do literally nothing when turning the key to the start position. I even took it to a dealer, who of course could never replicate the problem. In my case, I think it was not the relay, but just the connections between the relay and where it plugs in. I took both out, cleaned the contacts, and haven't had the problem since.

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    Hey Hey - YOU GUYS ROCK!!! You hit that one right out of the ballpark. I got enthused, got off my ass and went out in the garage and swapped those relays. Now when I turn the key, about one out of ten times it is deader than dead with the key in the start position. No cranking: no solenoid click: no nothing. The problem definitely followed the relay. I will buy another one this week so I'm ready for some top down action the next sunny dry day.


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