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Weird starting problems, need ideas!

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 25 Aug 2012, 11:29 am
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Default Weird starting problems, need ideas!

Hi all, I'm hoping the PT Cruiser experts in here might have some helpful suggestions for me.
I've got a 2006 PT Cruiser.

Sorry the story here is a little long, this is has been an ongoing problem

1.A few months ago the car was resistant to start, sluggish turning over. It was getting bad enough that one day my wife stopped at Autozone and they tested the battery, told her it was dead and she bought a new one.

2. Following that the car started strong but about 3 weeks later she stopped at a park, and when she went back to start, it was dead. I came and tried to jump it but it had no effect at all, I was stumped. I noticed it was weird because there was no electricity to any part of the car, everything was dark and silent, no power locks or anything. When turning the key, it was complete silence, no clicks or anything.
The next day I came back and was ready to call a tow truck but I jumped again and it started right up (and I'm not 100% it was the jump that did it, as I didn't try to start before doing the 2nd jump).

3. We took it to Pep Boys and they did all the regular electrical system checks and said nothing was wrong but to bring it back if it happened again.

4. A few days later it again won't start in a store parking lot. It sits there until i get home from work, try to jump it, no effect. As in point 2 above, there was no electricity to any part of the car, and complete silence was turning the key, even after the jump. The weird thing this time was that after I unhooked the jumper cables and sat in the cab of my truck wondering what was wrong and getting ready to attach the tow rope, I noticed the interior lights on the cruiser suddenly come on (I had left the door open). I jumped in it and it started right up.

5. I took it back to Pep Boys and again they ran the tests and told me nothing was wrong but recommended I take it to another shop that specialized in complicated electrical problems. Fearing the cost of this I took it home.

6. It ran just fine for almost a month after that, but one day when my wife finished a shopping trip, the remote entry button failed to release the rear hatch. She couldn't open it without inserting the key into the hatch lock, but when she did so, she set off the alarm (which shouldn't have happened because she had already hit the "unlock" button several times on the fob). She started it up and drove home, noting the instrumental panel was flaky, many warning lights were on (check engine, check oil, battery). When I got home, I figured the instrumental panel freak out was because of setting off the alarm so I disconnected the battery and reconnected it, which "fixed" that problem, the instrumental panel went back to normal.

7. It was fine for a few more days until not starting again in a store parking lot. I tried and failed to jump it twice. This time it was different than before because even though there was complete silence when turning the ignition, there was electrical power to the instrument panel and interior. I tried various other things too such as making sure all accessories were OFF before attempting to start and shifting the gear out of P into N and then back into P, ruling out that problem.
Late that night I went back to either jump or tow it, and it started right up with jumping. I drove it home intending to just park it and leave it until I could afford to take it to the shop. I noticed when driving home the instrument panel was again weird, the gear indicator that should only put a square around D was full-on (illuminated squares around P, R, N, D, 3, etc) and also that the speedometer and tach didn't work at all, they just sat on zero.

8. A few days later I had to move the car because guys were come to resurface the parking lot of my apartment complex. Luckily it started and I moved it, again I noticed the gear indicator was full-on and the speedometer and tach didn't work at all.

9. Today I tried to move it back to my apartment and there was yet a new problem. It started, I noticed again the tach didn't move, and this time it died within 3 seconds. I started it again, revved the engine hard, tach doesn't move, and it died in 3 seconds. I tried a 3rd, 4th, and 5th, time and each time it started and died before I could even try and throw it in reverse and go. On the 6th try, it was silent, no sound when i turned the key (but there is electrical power to the interior).

Basically its haunted, or rather I guess there is a short somewhere that both drains the battery and prevents starting and causes various other electrical least that is what I think, but what are other possibilities here?

Any suggestions on things to try and where to start looking?

Thanks for reading the long post!
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Old 25 Aug 2012, 12:46 pm
Ray_Dockrey's Avatar
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Default Re: Weird starting problems, need ideas!

My first thought was bad ignition switch. But that last issue sounds like a problem with the sentry key system.
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Old 25 Aug 2012, 02:04 pm
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Default Re: Weird starting problems, need ideas!

I would clean all battery cable ends all the way to the starter and alt. If that doesn't do it, look at the ignition switch.

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Old 25 Aug 2012, 04:02 pm
mdfrodolives's Avatar
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Default Re: Weird starting problems, need ideas!

It's either what Ray said, or what Busted said--or your battery is defective.

If the battery checks out perfectly, remove and clean up all the battery clamps and connections. Check your ground wires, too.

The ignition may be at fault, as some Cruisers on this forum have mentioned replacing it and all these symptoms go away.

But, I'm leaning toward the battery, their connections (all of them, starter, PCM, ground wires and ground wire surfaces, etc).

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Old 25 Aug 2012, 05:31 pm
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Default Re: Weird starting problems, need ideas!

Thanks guys, sounds good to me, I'll start with battery connections and then the ignition switch.
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