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Starter not activating upon turning the key


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Good afternoon!

It's been a while since I've posted around here, which probably means the Eldorado has been running great! I just broke 129k miles, after having the block studded, and she's running flawlessly. I haven't had to add any coolant in the past year, temperature gauge is pegged at 12:00.

I'm sort of stumped with a problem I've encountered in the past few days, and come here for help! Occasionally, I'll jump in the car, turn the key, and while the dashboard goes through the start-up sequence, the starter motor doesn't engage. It's not even like there's a "click" from the solenoid... literally "nothing" happens when the key is turned to 'start'.

This morning, I had to try starting the car 10 or so times, before it finally started up, just like nothing was wrong. The battery is new, connections are clean, and while the starter-motor is original, it cranks very quickly and with no trouble.

My guess would be some sort of relay, or maybe even the ignition switch iself. I checked for codes, thinking it may be the VATS system, but found none. No security messages, or anything out of the ordinary. :huh:

Anybody enounter this before?

Hope everybody has been well! :D

-Scott

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How did you determine that the connections are clean and tight?

This is a classic, bad positive battery connection, take the positive cable apart and clean the sandwidged wires in there clean the lug and make sure its tight when you retighten

You also say, the battery is new. That means nothing. Have it professionally load tested, to see if it holds a draw well and to see if it has an internal short

Then when those things are eliminated, and only then, it could be a bad solenoid in the starter

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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I agree with Bodybyfisher, check the battery terminals very close first. I have had this problem occasionally lately. It is like the switch is not turned far enough for it to hit. I just replaced my starter solenoid not long ago so I know that is not it. There is a starter relay that could be getting lazy. You can switch it out with one of the other ones in the same place and see if there is a difference. Go for the battery first though.

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I removed the terminals and brushed them with a wire-brush a couple months ago. They were clean, but I 'serviced' them for good measure. Lately there has been lots of rain, humidity, and weather change, so tomorrow I will re-inspect and clean the cable connections.

The battery is a Interstate Megatron, installed 6 months ago, and seems very strong. Has no trouble at all starting the car, and I've never once had to jump it. At this point, the battery is not suspect to me.

I thought of the neutral safety switch, and shifted the car through the gears when it was acting up, to see if that made a difference. Trying to start the car in park or neutral yielded the same results - no start. I suppose that's still not a valid test of the switch, and it could very well be suspect.

Oddly, I've driven the car several times today, and since the morning episode, I haven't had any trouble.

Tomorrow, after I get some sleep and can think straight, I'll prod around under the hood and check things out. I recently detailed the engine (it looks great!), and fear I may have got the 'electrical center' by the left wheel slightly wet. I should probably check the fuses and relays in the blocks, and see if they're clean and snug. I wish there was an easy way to clean the fuse/relay blocks... They looked really dusty/cruddy last time I lifted the access panel.

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There are three battery cables that are sandwiched in the positive battery terminal. One of them goes to the starter; it's the one that goes under the beauty cover. The other two go to the alternator and to the Maxifuse blocks. Try them individually with your hand to see if they are all tight. If any one of them seems at all loose, you might try putting a copper washer in there to tighten up the contact between them; auto parts stores sell them for just that purpose.

A final check is to check and see if there is voltage on the solenoid, which requires popping the intake manifold to attach a test light or multimeter. If you are getting volts to the solenoid but the starter isn't turning over, I would remove the starter and solenoid as an assembly and repair, recondition, or exchange them at your option.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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....and fear I may have got the 'electrical center' by the left wheel slightly wet. I should probably check the fuses and relays in the blocks, and see if they're clean and snug. I wish there was an easy way to clean the fuse/relay blocks... They looked really dusty/cruddy last time I lifted the access panel.

I don't have the electrical schematics for your model; maybe you could post a picture of the road map on the inside of that fuse/relay box cover for me?

Take a long look at that road map and see if there is a relay indentified as START. Or possibly two relays labeled START 1 and START 2. Remove and install those relays several times to scrub any possible corrosion off the blades and sockets. I use a pair of channel lock pliers and a gentle rocking motion to remove them.

Live with the dust and crud inside the cover. Welllll - compressed air would remove the dust.

In my 50+ years experience with automotive, marine, and airborne electrical/electronic systems, I have never been tempted to clean up a fuse/relay box.

Jim

Drive your car.

Use your cell phone.

CHOOSE ONE !

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I'll take a picture tomorrow! I just noticed the relays/fuses all had a gritty layer of dust on them, nothing terrible, but not the "clean and glossy" look that I strive for. That's a good idea with the air-blaster. I'll take my canned-air with me, and a small (but gentle) brush, and clean them up as best as I can. I don't think I've ever once had to change a fuse, or had any electrical gremlins (until the past week), so clearly the dust doesn't seem to have any ill effects.

I will check the sandwiched connections on the positive terminal. I had the cable replaced about 6 years ago, so it's slightly different (revised?) than the one that originally came with the car, even though it was replaced at the Cadillac dealer.

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About 3 months ago mine did the same thing. After about 10 attempts at the gas station it finally turned over, started and has been good until last week. This time I put the gear selector into neutral and it started right up. Checked the codes and had a I027 History, PRND321 switch failure, neutral safety. I have not replaced it yet, has worked fine the last few days (knock on wood), but I'm sure it is in my future along with a belt tensioner or idler pulley that sounds like a bird singing under the hood lol. A little shot of silicone spray quiets it down but does not last long.

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I recently detailed the engine (it looks great!), and fear I may have got the 'electrical center' by the left wheel slightly wet. I should probably check the fuses and relays in the blocks, and see if they're clean and snug. I wish there was an easy way to clean the fuse/relay blocks... They looked really dusty/cruddy last time I lifted the access panel.

In that electrical center is the starter relay and ignition relay. Looking at it from the front of the car on the drivers side, the starter relay and ignition relay are below the cluster of 6 relays that look all alike. The starter relay is on the right and the ignition relay is on the left. Unplug them and check for corrosion and clean them.

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Here is a free trick if you have a second key use that for awhile and see if the problem goes away. Possibly a key chip broblem

GM FAN FOREVER

Nice, clean, luxury= fine automobile

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My '97 does not have the sandwiched positive battery cables - there is one end that contacts the battery and the other cables are joined to the end without the multiple ends, washers, etc.

It may be possible the connections at the starter are loose or making intermittent contact?

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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KHE, like me, has a newer battery cable; I replaced mine about 2003 or so. If there are no codes, as found by reading the codes through the A/C controls (see link in my signature block) rather than a small code reader, then yes, it could be a bad connection somewhere else, the solenoid or even the starter.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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Are there a used or unused afterkarket alarm installed in the car that may have a starter cut off? Seems to be a low voltage issue since you are not hearing the solenoid engage. I suspect the lock cylinder contacts. When it happens again, tilt the steering wheel as the key is in the start position, and see if it changes anything.

To clean a fusepanel / relay center, spray WD-40, then work it in with a soft paintbrush. when done, blow out the dirt with the compressed air, and then leave it with a final mist of WD-40. If you want, as you are working it in with the brush, keep cleaning the brush on a clean towel.

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You know, as I read this the first time, I missed that there was not even a CLICK when you turned the key, I read there WAS a click when you turned the key, that is why I said this is a classic positive battery terminal problem, this no click is not a classic battery terminal problem

Consider the ignition switch also

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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After spending some time poking around, I have no significant findings to report. Battery terminals were clean and tight. The starter relay looked to be in great shape, and the contacts were clean. I suppose the good news is that I haven't had a problem since, but I'm not confident that I resolved anything just by wiggling the connections.

If I have another no-start episode, I'll plan on replacing the ignition switch and the relay, as they must have a finite life at this point, and aren't terribly expensive to replace. I guess the neutral safety switch could also be considered, but I don't have any OBD codes, so I'm going to assume it's still good for now.

Thank you all very much for the help! I'll let you know if anything more develops.

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....The starter relay looked to be in great shape, and the contacts were clean. I suppose the good news is that I haven't had a problem since....

Since you removed and installed the start relay? The corrosion (or oxidation) I was referring to in post #7 is NOT necessarily obvious to the eye.

If I have another no-start episode, I'll plan on replacing the ignition switch and the relay, as they must have a finite life....

No more so than a light bulb.

Jim

Drive your car.

Use your cell phone.

CHOOSE ONE !

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