Starting issue with car - It starts every time, but acts as if it is not going to start first.. why?!


Asked by Oct 30, 2012 at 01:48 PM about the 1998 Chrysler Sebring 2 Dr JXi Convertible

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I've read some questions and answers on this site, and it seems like a good place to come when you have no idea where to go with your car issues! I've had my car at several mechanics.. and they can't figure out the problem. EVERY TIME you put the key in the ignition and go to start the car.. it acts as if it is not going to start. You can either keep the key turned forward and eventually it will start.. or you can turn the key back and then forward again and it will start right up. If the car is already warmed up (let's say you just ran into the store for 5 minutes and then you came back out and started it up), then it starts up right away - no problem. Within the last year we have replaced the fuel tank, fuel sensor, and fuel filter (for other issues the car was having), so I don't think that this issue is related to those things. What else could the problem be?? The mechanic said that nothing "appears" to be broken, so just ride it out until something actually breaks so that they can figure out the problem. Um.. that's not going to work! I travel half an hour to and from work.. I'd hate for it to "finally break" 25 miles from home. It doesn't read any error codes when hooked up. Where should I go from here? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated!!!

32 Answers

That sounds like going to the doctor and telling him you have chest pains and he says wait until you have a heart attack then we will treat it. You're right, it will fail at the worst time possible. Replacing an ignition switch is a pain in the rear, especially if it's the same key to the door, but it seems to me that's what it needs. But there are folks on this forum that know more that I do, I am guessing, come on guys! Let's help her/him figure this out

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

I had a similar problem with my Toyota Sienna and it turned out to be a bad cell in the battery (after a mechanic replaced my starter with no effect). This was only found after AAA sent out its battery specialist who performed some tests that others hadn't. Battery was replaced and problem eliminated.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

i agree with the obvious sforwarned has stated it does sound as if you have a week cell and / or a bad earth conection would recomend a new battery and some elbow grease with some corse emery paper on the earthing points

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Thanks everyone!! We actually just got a new battery not long before this started. Someone told us then that it could be a bad connection, so we had the connection checked and they said everythign was fine. I didn't; however, think about something actually being wrong with the new battery. How can I get this tested?? Would a regular battery testing machine (like at Advanced Auto) be able to check for something like that? Or do I need something a little more advanced?

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Yes there is. An amperage tester will tell you if the battery is putting out the proper amperage when the battery is drawn upon. Voltage may be fine, 11 to 13 off and 12 to 13.5 with engine running, but that's a different ballgame than amps. The teter will actually try to drain the battery for a short time and see if the amperage is good. It would not be the first time a brand new battery is no good..possible

And then..........there are cables, not just battery cables, but cables to the starter and the connection on the starter where the cable terminal eye bolts on.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Re reading everything, I do agree with those guys, they all have valid points. But I get to thinking about how you describe the problem, having to fiddle with the key, and we go full circle and I still think it may be that, the switch


on the back of the ignition switch there is the electrical conection held in place with a grub screw,remove it and clean it up with switch cleaner and re install,if it is the switch this will solve it

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

The thing is also the car acts up when it is cold or has been sitting for a while, once the car is warm or has been driven for a while it will start normal after you shut it off. Also if the car is filled with gas it will still crank before it starts but it doesn't crank as long, if it is running low on gas it will crank for a while before it starts not sure if this helps or hurts just trying to get to the bottom of this

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

could be a blocked jet or injector a filter or a combination of all 3 try putting some redex in the fuel system to clean it and remove the plugs overnight with some down the bore to clean the pistons and rings to break up any deposits turn the car over with the plugs out in the morning after you have done this replace the plugs and see if it is any better. without the car in front of me its rather dificult for me to pin point the exact problem regards j.s autos

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

I have the same problem. I got a Cam position Sensor code. replaced it, but didn't fix problem. I will run a battery check in the morning. It has the same symptoms as the first post.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I'm still having this problem. We haven't figured out what it is yet, but we haven't tried all of the suggestions above either. We're going to have a fuel check ran on it where they can tell us if the problem is somewhere in the fueling system (thinking the brand new fuel pump that we had put in is the problem because this issue started shorty after that). But if you can figure it out, let me know! It still starts every time and I made this original post 7 months ago - it just acts as if it doesn't want to at first.

My 2010 Camry with 38,000 miles is doing the exact thing! Was going to take it to the dealer but this forum sounds like I may end up out of major bucks! Will see if I can fix it myself.

My car is doing the same thing. I took it to the shop and they cant seem to find the problem. I got the fuel pump put on it and other stuff. But the problem still exist. I wonder if it's the ignition .


Mine started this way and now Im using a jump box to start it every day... battery test fine... runs fine when started just wont start at all on its own anymore... no one seems to be able to find the problem... 1996 Sebring Convertible JXI... I checked all relays and fuses already... Acts like its completely dead..

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

Im going to try a new battery tomorrow... Don't want to spend a lot but need a decent battery with a warranty in case my car drains it... lol what type do I get and where do I go? How much should it cost me?? Going first thing in the morning... well... after I get it started with my jump box.... hahaha HELP PLEASE Someone... ??

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I had the same problem on a Jeep Cherokee, the problem ended up being an o-ring seal at the fuel rail. The fuel rail was slowly loosing pressure while the engine was off, and the fuel was seeping back down the fuel line. After sitting for a while the engine had to be cranked for a longer than normal period before it started. When warm, it started right up. Hope this helps.... I have a 2008 Sebring giving me the same symptoms, will be looking there first.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

If the engine cranks most likely it's not a battery, could be the main switch( ignition switch) if the car won't start but cranks so with that said if the engine cranks and starts while still warm but after it sets and it takes 6 or more seconds most likely it's a fuel psi issue the fuel moduel on most modern cars have a regulator and bypass valve made in them, so as the car sets fuel psi will drop due too the bypass valve allowing psi to drop below tolerance as the engine cranks the pump has to build psi so the injectors can adomize the fuel into the intake. Unfortunately the valve is integrated into the pump assembly or module and must be replaced as a unit. I have been a profession wrench for over thirty years and this is one of the biggest issues with auto repair, getting the info from the owner because most people don't understand the difference between a no start and a no crank issue all they know is their car won't start, and the mechanic must ask question to help the owner explain his or her complaint. Testing the ignition switch and or fuel pump is not that hard if you have the right tools and know how to use them. I speak for all of us mechs. If you take ur car to a shop and they don't take the time to quiz you and don't have Certain tools in their collection most likely it's not gonna get fixed, til every part is replaced and ur wallets are empty.. As a pro I use these forums to just see some of the issues people face with a paticular car, I find that most who give advise to people have know clue as to what their even talking about. Find you a good mech ,, trust me we are out there' and many of us are mechanics because we truley love machines, many of us want to fix ur car as affordability as possible because we want you to come back. Just my bitch of the day.

14 out of 14 people think this is helpful.

I, too, was having a no-start problem. I took the car to a reputable mechanic. They kept the car a week and couldn't replicate the problem. Said they couldn't find anything wrong. I had it another week after I got it back before it did it again. Searched on the internet for an answer - it's a computer problem. The site said it would be about $1200 to fix, but an alternative was when the no-start occurs, disconnect the negative battery cable for a minute or so, put it back on, and the car should start right up. It does! I've been living with this for about a year now, but another problem developed - the alarm goes off ad-lib. I'll be driving down the road and the horn will start blaring and the lights start flashing. Talk about embarrassing! But the same fix works - pull off to the side of the road, disconnect and reconnect the battery cable. Viola! I love this car. It's never given me a problem - until now. Now everything is falling apart. The radiator has developed a leak, the convertible top doesn't work, the driver's side door is making a terrible 'click' when opened, the cigarette lighter doesn't work (so can't use axillary devices), the brakes need fixing...all this on top of the problems the 'computer' is causing =( I have no option but to get everything fixed when I can afford to. No leeway for a car payment on Disability :( Regardless, try disconnecting the battery when it no-starts again. If it works, then you've got your 'diagnosis'.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

ALD824 has the correct solution - bad o-ring on fuel line somewhere, probably where the fuel pump, or filter was replaced, or at the fuel rail coupling. I have this same issue and I know it's a leak in the fuel system but I haven't gotten around to fixing it. A good mechanic would easily solve this problem (i.e. your mechanic is not real good). EVERY SINGLE suggestion about a weak battery, a bad ignition switch, or an electrical issue is COMPLETELY WRONG! Don't waste your time or money. Instead, find out where the mechanic that replaced the fuel tank, sensor and filter disconnected a fuel line and replace the O-rings at those connections. Your problem will likely go away. And don't worry about it breaking 25 miles from home for this issue - it won't but then again it is a Sebring and it probably has that crappy 2.7 liter Mitsubishi engine in it (with the water pump inside the timing cover) so it will probably break eventually.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Hi ALD824, You're right. I have that crappy 2.7 L engine! I haven't had a no-start problem in over a year, but I definitely have some sort of electrical and/or computer problem. As long as I don't use the key fob to lock/unlock, it does fairly well. The Air Bag light was staying on right after I bought it and the cig lighter was replaced twice by the dealer. Six years later - the cig lighter still blows fuses and the airbag light stays on constantly....and now the alarm system goes off on the fritz. Definitely electrical/computer driven problem. I took it to a mechanic last week - radiator leak - $400 repair *(00)*. Really? AND he says if he gets in there and discovers something wrong with the water pump, he won't touch it because he's "been burned too many times with those." What's your suggestion?


Unless you can fix it yourself, you're screwed. Depends on what year it is and if you (or previous owner) changed the oil religiously. If serviced regularly, the sludge problem can be avoided. If no sludge, water pump fix shouldn't be an issue (except it's expensive). If there's sludge, don't touch it. Loosening it by trying to clean it up will just cause it to break free and block the oil pickup screen. Removing the front rocker cover will let you see if there's a sludge issue (see pic). If no sludge, water pump replacement shouldn't be an issue. Only other solution is a complete rebuild.




i have a 2015 rav 4 i bought with low mileage dealer certified, was leased for 9 months. among other issues like an undisclosed repair to the body, im having a starting issue that only seems to happen to ME and my husband, this car spent weeks at the dealer and they claim they have done hundreds of start cycles and its perfect for them when " I " start it it takes sometimes 2 or 3 times for it to start ??? im uber frustrated HELP any ideas please ?


You should have started a new thread


sorry i didnt know where to do that

I have a 2002 chrysler serbreme we replaced the motor when we go to start it it will crank but wont start can see the fuel checked everything and it should turn over. Someone had told us that there is a security thing with the computer in the car if you change the motor but wondered if anyone might have an idea if that is the reason how to by pass it?


If same engine module then should start. N o security thing. You should begin basic diagnosis. Spark, fuel, power, etc. Check fuses first. You might have blown a fuse during the swap.

The engine module is from the old engine everything has been checked talked to one person that said that the transmission and engine module have to be from the same car and match up since we bought the car not running not sure if that is the case. Have you heard of such a thing? It is getting gas all fuses have been checked and a list of other things . So frustrating


You never said what year the donor engine was. It could be that your donor engine requires the old cam sprockets. There was a midyear change between 2002 and 2004. Check out the following link (read the whole thing). Although this other person's issue turned out to be a potential wiring problem, yours might be the cam sprocket issue. You can see that the timing slots are in different locations in the picture (at the following link).

I have a 2010 Sebring and it won't start when it's cold. It starts around 11 am but if it's really cold it won't start at all. Some one please help

It does not crank or anything. Everything in the car works and this comes on

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