Mystery Problem (for me), Car Occasionally Will Not Start

sherlockhomey
0

Asked by sherlockhomey Jan 13, 2013 at 07:09 PM about the 1998 Cadillac Catera 4 Dr STD Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Hi there, I recently received a Cadillac Catera 1998 from my old man, since he doesn't have a need to drive the car. Here is the dilemma, this car has had a history of not starting on occasion. No, cranking, nothing (For the record, I may be mistaken with the term usage, but there is not sound when trying to start the car). The only way to fix this problem is to let it sit, or have it jump started.

I tried going through the usual suspects via advice from my mechanic friend, testing the alternator, starter, and battery; they all check out fine. What could possibly be preventing the car from starting on occasion? I recently looked around, and kept reading, "crank case sensor". Would that be the issue?

On a side note, I recently had an oil change, and I am getting the oil light for some reason. I replaced with nearly a full jug of 4.8L of oil.

Thank you for reading this (apologies for being wordy) and I hope some one can shed light on this.

23 Answers

tenspeed
49,895

No sound when turning the key is not a sensor. No signal is getting to the starter solenoid for some reason. Since it does respond to a jump start, I would recommend a cleaning and tightening the battery connections. Do the other accessories work when you are experiencing the no start condition? --- On the oil light question, which oil light are you seeing? That car has a red oil pressure light - that's the bad one, shut off the engine. It might have a yellow low oil light which indicates that you need to add more oil to the sump. There may be a "Change Oil Soon" light that is illuminated by GM's oil life monitor. It comes on when 90% of the oil life has been used. There might be a reset for it in the fuse panel.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
sherlockhomey
0

Thanks for the fast reply. Regarding the car starting, all of the accessories work perfectly fine, lights, radio, and etc. Funny that you mentioned cleaning and tightening the terminal cables, I took it to a shop a few days ago to get it checked out, and they pointed it out to me about the cables. They did tighten them for me free of charge. They also mentioned cleaning the cables as well. How would I go about that in all curiosity? Regarding the oil light, it is the orange light, the one at the top of the gauge. So I probably just need to add some more. Thank you for the fast reply, tenspeed.

tenspeed
49,895

I use a small metal brush. It's a little larger than a tooth brush with small bristles. It removes the corrosion. While you're at the store, get some dielectric or electrical grease to seal the fresh metal from the elements. -- If the negative wire is attached and your tool on the positive post makes a conductive path to ground, it will make an arc that you will never forget. Always remove the negative side first and install it last to prevent a short circuit to ground. --- Remove both battery wires. Use the wire brush on both sides of the connection until they shine. Apply grease to one surface and reassemble. Excess grease will be squeezed out. Apply more grease to the outer surfaces. I recently learned the CRC makes an aerosol electrical grease.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
sherlockhomey
0

Thank you, tenspeed. I will take that into consideration when I go through this process. Hopefully that was the cause for the, apparent, electrical problem. Sounds simply enough for me at least. If not I can just have my mechanic friend help me through it. Aside from that, would you have any other ideas that could be a potential lead to the issue? something possibly sapping enough power to prevent the car from starting?

Joseph Kopacz
315

Sounds like a ground short to me. Check starter motor connections and trace wiring harness circuits.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
tenspeed
49,895

What is a "ground short". I'm not familiar with the term.

sherlockhomey
0

So I ended up cleaning out the battery terminals today, with the help of my friend. I now have to wait to see if that fixed the recurring issue. Regarding the wiring harness, what exactly am I keeping an eye for when looking at it? Once again thanks for the leads gentlemen.

Joseph Kopacz
315

A ground short is what happens when the hot wire in a circuit grounds out against some other grounded source and not the item it is supposed to charge (loose starter connections). Do circuit tests on appropriate individual circuits that are a part of the wiring harness affecting starter moter operation.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
sherlockhomey
0

Thanks Joseph, I'll see if I can figure it tomorrow when I look at it again with my friend. In the event it is a wiring issue, lets say it is a bad wire, would be a money sink to replace?

Joseph Kopacz
315

Not necessarily. Engine wiring harness around $150, but (there always is a "but") pulling and installing it depending on who and where you get it done could cost 2 or so hours of labor. Make sure whomever is doing it KNOWS what they are doing, e.g., disconnect the battery first and completely!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
sherlockhomey
0

Well, I just got hold of a copy of the service repair manual for the Catera. From what you, Joseph, said and the manual is stating, I need to first identify if the solenoid clicks when I start the car during the time it misbehaves. I will assume that since there isn't any noise at all, the solenoid isn't clicking either which redirects back what you say, check the wiring harness, or as the book identifies (if I am reading correctly) the ignition switch harness. At least I feel I am getting somewhere at this point.

Joseph Kopacz
315

Disconnect battery, then check connections to to the solenoid ... may need a new one (do electronic circuit test) cost about $25 at PEP boys.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Joseph Kopacz
315

Problem solved?

catowomans
20

It's the sensor in the transmission shift case. Tight next to the drivers side."Neutral Position Switch" or PRNDL sensor. It over heats and then will not allow you to start the car. It acts as the mom to a kid that has been running around on a hot summer day. - " no you have to stop running before you get sick" I priced it out for mine and it was $250.00. Any how if you take off the cover on the shifter, it pulls out I think from the back to the front. Now Look down inside. See that little yellow lever? push it down. Now start your car. I hate being stuck when I ran errands on a summer day I found this work around. Good Luck!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
98CateraDriver
0

I have the same problem and went through many of the issues & trouble shooting that has been discussed. The answer from catowomans sounds very good. I have felt it to be tempeture related. When my 1998 Catera does not start with no "clicking" from the solenoid trying to crank the engine over it is exactly as described with the solenoid not getting power. You wait 45 to 60 minutes and then it cranks right over. I will try this next time it happens to me which will certainly be the next time I drive the car.

Suzi Catalano
70

Ok I just read the part about the oil. I did some research on this. Apparently there is a thing with the EPA and 10-30 oil. I am not sure what the thing is. However, since the Cateras really a European Opel it calls for a heavier weight oil in the summer. Because the car engine runs so hot, then the temperture. Now I have read that it is the pil pump. but someone replaced the oil pump. -talk about expensive endevor- but two years down the line the problem came back. I also want to note. My oil light and alarm do not sound November thru March. Oh I have replaced both the oil light and alarm sensor, I am also not leaking oil. More and more I see this car is not a "summer" car.

temkhabana
10

I too have a 1998 Cadilac Catera, bought in December 2012. The day I bought it, I drove it an hour to get home, stopped on the way at the store, and behold, it would not start. Waited a while, and jump started it. The jump probably did not help but the wait did. 6 more times since, it has happened, never on short 3 to 5 minute drives. Yesterday, hottest days of the summer in Florida, it happened twice on 20 minute drives. Waited 45 min to 1 hour, and it started. How do I get to the yellow lever?? Also, there are numerous intermittent electrical issues, wipers inter, interior lights, radio, AC/Radio/clock work when they want, must be an electrical issue, or both. THANKS for your input!!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Develyn
10

I have the same problem and I will be considering this option, I still have to do some research but this is interesting: http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-catera-cimarron-forum/197458-perminant-fix-catera-wont-crank-when.html

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
BlackDiamonds
10

I am now having the problem with my car not making any sounds when I turn it over; however, the oil light, brake light, engine or interior dash lights stay on even when the key is taken out. Something has drained the battery. What you described earlier also pertains to what I am experiencing?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Suzi Catalano
70

http://www.autopartswarehouse.com/shop_years/cadillac-catera- crankshaft-position-sensor-1998.html http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-catera-cimarron- forum/67854-98-catera-crankshaft-position-sensor-replacement.html I am not sure it will help with the battery drain. But it will definitely help with the hot not starting. I already replaced the k32 sensor no help there. But this seems to have solved the problem it has been a week.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Suzi Catalano
70

Sorry, I put a link to the part above. And a link to how to replace the part. This is a DIY kinda thing. No need for a garage if you are a plug and play kinda person.

Kristi Costa
10

I have same proublem only it take my car 45min exactly and it starts up every time. what could it b?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Gregoryryoung
0

All power through the starting circuit must pass through the starter brushes to complete the circuit. If the starter brushes are worn, intermittently failing to connect with the starter armature, there is no current path to ground. This would cause the exact symptom you have described. I have a 2000 Catera and it is doing the same thing. I am currently trying to locate a brush set for the starter - they don't want you to fix the stater, they want you to replace it. I have had the same exoerience on other cars and replacing the starter brushes corrected the problem. Good luck - greg

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