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Starting Problems - Possible Ignition Switch?

 
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Old 24 Dec 2012, 12:40 pm
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Default Starting Problems - Possible Ignition Switch?

I have an '01 PT Cruiser LE with approx. 137k miles.

Within the past month or so we've had problems in particular with the vehicle starting. Some days it would start without problem, and others you'd turn the key and nothing.
Interior lights, etc. would come on, so it wasn't the battery (which was replaced a little over a year ago).

First, the mechanic said it was the alternator and the alternator draining the battery. Alternator was replaced and the battery charged. This seemed to help, and didn't have problems starting the next 7-8 times afterward. Was told it was probably the starter, so we had that replaced this past weekend. I go to leave the auto shop after the repair, and have an issue starting it first thing in the parking lot. It started up on the second crank. (Which sometimes it will take at very least 2 times turning the key over to start when it is problematic).

Have checked the starter relay fuses, etc. The key/ignition does seem
a little loose, and if the key is in too far, and have experimented a little to see that if it is wiggled out slightly it seems to start without a problem.
But the problem has always been intermittent, so it's difficult to tell.
Could this be an ignition switch or actuator problem?
I'm at wits end on what it could be, and getting tired of
the mechanic just "guessing" and shelling out money that I don't have.

Thank you so much in advance! Happy Holidays.
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Old 24 Dec 2012, 01:03 pm
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Default Re: Starting Problems - Possible Ignition Switch?

Intermittent cranking can be pretty tough to track down, but by the same token the circuit is pretty simple. To do real testing, you'll need a voltmeter on hand for those times it won't start to verify you have power at the relay and at the solenoid. Many mechanics are really uncomfortable with testing electrical systems, so if it's not something you want to tackle yourself, you may want to see if there's an automotive electrical specialist in your area to give the task to. Were it me, I would also have words with my mechanic about selling me parts that don't fix the problem. IMHO, it's fair to charge you for the parts since you now do have a new battery and new starter, but he should refund or discount his labor... you paid him for his expertise, and he failed to demonstrate any.
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Old 24 Dec 2012, 03:21 pm
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Default Re: Starting Problems - Possible Ignition Switch?

Thanks. I have been meaning to pick up a multi/voltmeter for a while now. The car has been setting off my anxiety even more with the fear of once it does start, not being able to start it back up and drive home.

Yeah, a labor refund would be nice. But one can dream. It is so difficult to find a decent shop or mechanic these days. My father was the best/most honest one I knew, but he passed away last year. I keep making the same mistake of taking it to this place that is local, that recently changed owners. The previous owner was honest and more than fair with his prices. The new owners didn't even bother to mention that they don't accept credit cards even though they advertise on the sign that they do.

After this new owner replaced the alternator and I was still having the problem, he said I needed the PCM replaced because of the code it was throwing. (As if that was the cure-all for the starting issue.) It had been reading the P0601 error for going on 3 years now, and I hadn't had any real problems other than the throttle body sticking. He was supposed to order a reman. PCM from someone who "deals with that sort of thing" through Advance Auto Parts. However, he would not give the name of the person he was dealing with or the company who sold/reflashed the PCM
to my VIN# or a shipping/tracking number. He couldn't give a specific price. Just a quote of $340-470 for the PCM plus one hour labor to install it. After a few weeks I got tired of calling the shop almost daily to ask if he'd gotten the part in. Since he couldn't provide a tracking number or company name from where it was supposedly being sent, I figured he never ordered it anyway.

Bought the PCM on eBay and had it programmed to my VIN, installed myself, and saved a couple hundred. It fixed the the throttle and RPM problem, but knew it was not going to help with the starter.
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Old 27 Dec 2012, 09:56 am
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Default Re: Starting Problems - Possible Ignition Switch?

There are some threads here on ignition switches - sounds like yours could be an issue. Try to see if pushing in on the key helps - to confirm. Don't know if you use or have tilt steering, but movingthe tilt has been known to help, too (pinching of wiring harness).
The good news is ignition switch isn't that expensive - even at at dealer, according to posts I remember.
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Old 27 Dec 2012, 12:05 pm
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Default Re: Starting Problems - Possible Ignition Switch?

Thanks I had someone take it yesterday for a standard oil change at a reputable shop in town (Ocala). They actually checked everything out, and narrowed it down to ignition lock cylinder and ignition switch. The gave a quote without actually looking anything up - price wise, for $300. Don't know if this is a reasonable price though.
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