2000 Saturn SL1 won't start. Any ideas?

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I realize it is probably the starter, but I've had a few issues before this and I'm not sure if it could be something more simple than that. I wiped out a curb a few weeks ago with my front passenger tire and the car now shakes when I go over 55mph. I got an alignment and was about to go get my tires and frame checked, but now the car just won't start. I had it towed to my house and... after the tow... it started easily.... then wouldn't start again. This happened for about a week. It wouldn't start, I'd tighten the battery connection, then it would start again... the next day, of course, it wouldn't. Now, the lights all come on just fine. The battery is fully charged and I've checked all of the fuses. The car hasn't even tried to turn. It does nothing. Maybe now and then I can get it to make a single click, but that's about it. I was told it could be a relay sensor (?), a knock sensor, or the starter. Does anyone have any ideas before I go spend the cash (which I have little of) to get a new starter.

posted by  alexism

How hard did you "wipe out the curb?" You might have bent your rim in addition to screwing up the alignment. You could have damaged a tie rod end or even bent a steering arm and/or damaged the sub-frame. It needs to be completely inspected. From how you state it, it does not sound pretty.



Well, two things you have listed, the Starter relay and the Starter are possibilities. I cannot see any parallel with the knock sensor. If you KNOW FOR A FACT that you do not have a loose connection somewhere (ground to the starter/frame or loose battery connection/short) then statistically speaking, you "probably" are looking at either a bad starter, a bad solenoid (starter and solenoid are one in the same on many setups nowadays) a bad relay OR it is possible to have a bad ignition switch. I had an ignition switch on a Cherokee totally tripping me out one time, and it was doing to me exactly what you described....only if I sat there and stabbed the key enough times, it would click each time and then FINALLY catch and fire up.

Tests have to be run to determine this. If a suspected bad starter is thought to the be the issue, you can take a hammer and knock (not trying to bash it in) the assy on the car and then hit the key to see if anything changes. Don't hit it like you want to kill it!!! :laughing: Just tap it! On some starter/solenoids too, you can totally short the incoming power supply line to the solenoid with a screwdriver and omit the ignition key from the equation. The positive battery feed usually runs to the starter first off.

The relay should be easy to find and can often be swapped with another of the same type in the box to quickly troubleshoot. Also, you can have someone hit the key and place your finger on the relay to see if you feel it clicking ie) actuating. Basically, you just have to methodically go about it and use your skills and knowledge to work for you. Without being there to test things out, I can really tell you no more. I believe you are looking at a problem with one or more of the following:

Starter
Solenoid
Relay
Ignition Key

Let us know! You probably will have to replace the starter and solenoid together, but this is something you will need to check because I am not specifically familiar intimately with your car. :thumbs:

posted by  cmeseadoin

If the ignition key is turning the cylinder ok, then the key is not your problem. Cranking problem sounds like it may be a poor connection. Check other items as suggested.

posted by  thefonz

Absolutely FALSE. I did not say the "key" was the problem. I said the ignition switch. You evidentally don't have much experience with anything in this arena. An ignition switch can go bad...it has MANY points of electrical contact inside and the switch is cycled through most ALL of them each time you start the car. That creates something called wear! It is VERY possible that the switch is bad. Just because the key turns...does not mean jack. :thumbs:

posted by  cmeseadoin

Damn, don't be so anal with everyone. This is your post ^ Do ya see it?? Ignition key
:doh:
And I never made any reference to a switch, just the key and key cylinder. If the key is turning, it is not the key. That could be a different story if it were VATS or PATS, but it is not. Yes I am familiar with an ignition switch and I know the difference between a ignition switch and a ignition key cylinder.

posted by  thefonz

seems like someone's panties are getting wadded up awful damned easy these days....:2cents:

posted by  dodger65

You lost me? Are you trying to say that I said "ignition key" instead of "switch?" If so, read my posting again...here it is:

"If you KNOW FOR A FACT that you do not have a loose connection somewhere (ground to the starter/frame or loose battery connection/short) then statistically speaking, you "probably" are looking at either a bad starter, a bad solenoid (starter and solenoid are one in the same on many setups nowadays) a bad relay OR it is possible to have a bad ignition switch."




I don't understand your above point. I know you never made any reference to the ignition switch, rather, you made reference to the KEY. I am the one that made reference to the Ignition switch whereas it seems you are trying to tell me I said KEY. VATS and PATS are passlock systems and most probably irrelevant here. The following is all that you typed up in regards to the ignition key in your posting:

"If the ignition key is turning the cylinder ok, then the key is not your problem."

When I responded, that is why I said it has nothing to do with the "key." Nothing has or had been discussed in this post that indicated the key was the problem. (ie...locking up when turned) Obviously a "key" is not going to cause the issue described here, hence my point. The only purpose of the "key" is to operate the switch assy., hence the switch being a potentially bad component. Yes, if you could not turn the key, we'd know there was a mechanical failure in the lock cylinder, but this person has stated enough information about their problem showing that when they attempt to start the car, they get either nothing or a click. This implies they are able to turn the key. Just because the keys turns means nothing about the electrical health of the switch.

posted by  cmeseadoin

Taken from post #2
I believe you are looking at a problem with one or more of the following:

Starter
Solenoid
Relay
Ignition Key

posted by  thefonz

Ah, ok gottcha! That is a mis-type on my part. After writting four paragraphs up on the issue it happens. I had already explained the ignition SWITCH in paragraph two though. I appologize about that, however, the point still lies in the rest :mrgreen:

posted by  cmeseadoin

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