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Old 24th July 2021, 13:27   #1
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Default A strange starting problem with my car

Dear Team Members

I decided to reach out to you all here in order to discuss a strange issue with my 2005 Maruti Alto LX. Sometimes the car refuses to start after being driven and the engine check light starts glowing. No matter how many times you turn the key it refuses to buzz and there is no activity with the starter motor. The car does fire up when given a push in the second or third gear, the engine light at this time keeps glowing which goes away after a few hours/days.

There is no specific pattern of this issue cropping up, sometimes there will be no problem even after driving a long-distance and sometimes the issue may surface even when I am out running some errands nearby. Here I must also say that it never stops or dies out of the blue when being driven the problem only happens once the engine is switched off.

This vehicle has been my daily driver for the past 15 years and has reached a milestone of 2.5 lakh kilometres. I have maintained my car immaculately and it gets serviced regularly at a reputed MASS here in my home town Shimla but even they have failed to identify the root cause.

The following troubleshooting has been done so far to probe and isolate the failing component but there was no success:

1. Battery replacement done
2. OBD scan done, but no error found
3. Distributor replacement done
4. The entire lockset including the ignition key was replaced
5. I had installed an Autocop car security system about 10 years ago, which had the engine immobilizer too, got that completely removed
6. Starter motor servicing, which by the way is working fine as per my car electrician
7. Complete wiring checks for any cuts, rat bites or any fraying

So far there has been no success and I am not sure what to do. I am emotionally attached to it and I want to keep it for a longer period of time but this problem is really spoiling my experience. With COVID and some tough times going on I really do not want to spend on a new car.

We have a lot of intellectuals here on the forum having in-depth knowledge about automobiles so I am sure someone might be able to help me out here and guide what to do in order to fix this problem.

Looking forward to your inputs.
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Old 24th July 2021, 13:56   #2
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Default re: A strange starting problem with my car

There could be an issue with some of the sensors in the engine.
Or It could even be a faulty ECU.
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Old 24th July 2021, 14:39   #3
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Default re: A strange starting problem with my car

Quote:
Originally Posted by amit_shimla View Post
This vehicle has been my daily driver for the past 15 years and has reached a milestone of 2.5 lakh kilometres. I have maintained my car immaculately and it gets serviced regularly at a reputed MASS here in my home town Shimla but even they have failed to identify the root cause.
With the age, mileage and starter not responding symptom, I can only think of checking for a corroded starter motor earth point on the chassis or a damaged power / earth lead of the starter.

In the next such situation you should also check if your starter is getting activated by connecting battery to the starter directly (with use of the correct sized cables and a mechanic who knows what he's doing).

Your ASC has gone ahead with replacement of some parts but has not tried replacing the related wiring harnesses, relays and cables which could be problematic.
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Old 24th July 2021, 14:40   #4
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Default re: A strange starting problem with my car

I suspect, the problem could be due to faulty electrical connection/component of the fuel pump. Loose connection cannot be ruled out, since you claim the problem in your car is inconsistent. The 'engine check light' can glow if there is an issue with the fuel pump.

Last edited by Emvi : 24th July 2021 at 15:00. Reason: Line added
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Old 24th July 2021, 15:45   #5
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Default re: A strange starting problem with my car

Quote:
Originally Posted by amit_shimla View Post

- strange issue with my 2005 Maruti Alto LX
- Sometimes the car refuses to start after being driven
- no matter how many times you turn the key it refuses to buzz and there is no activity with the starter motor. - - the car does fire up when given a push in the second or third gear, the engine light at this time keeps glowing which goes away after a few hours/days.
- it never stops or dies out of the blue when being driven the problem only happens once the engine is switched off.
If I've understood the problem right, the starter won't engage when you turn the key on, but the car will always start when push started.

If so, please check for the following

1. do you hear a click click noise when you turn the key to the starter position, but the starter doesn't engage? If yes, then there is a continuity issue in 12V supply from the starter solenoid to the starter. If the click click doesn't happen, then the main 12V supply to the starter solenoid isn't ok.

Have the main 12V supply connection to the starter solenoid , the 12V control supply to the starter solenoid, and starter solenoid to starter continuity checked. It could be a simple issue of the contact points oxidized, as @Tgo says.

This starting issue occurred in a Nano - starter was serviced, battery changed and the issue persisted. It turned out that there was an issue in the main 12V cable to the starter.

In any case, I wouldn't persist with this car as 2.5 lakh kms is a lot of kms for an Alto. I think it is time to say goodbye to the car and look at a younger Alto in the same colour perhaps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tgo View Post
With the age, mileage and starter not responding symptom, I can only think of checking for a corroded starter motor earth point on the chassis or a damaged power / earth lead of the starter.
+1 to that.
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Old 24th July 2021, 19:21   #6
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Default re: A strange starting problem with my car

Did you show it to Goyal ?

They generally are quite clueless on cars around the 2000 era better to go to a new agency like the one in Chandigarh.
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Old 24th July 2021, 22:53   #7
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Default re: A strange starting problem with my car

Check for:
1. Vapour lock in the low pressure fuel pump. Fit a substitute fuel pump, run and check the car for a few days.
2. Weakening ignitors (due to age of vehicle). Ask your friendly neighbourhood mechanic to check by substituting the ignitor set with another one. Run the car for a couple of days and see whether the fault crops up.

Alto mechanicals are very robust. Doesn't give up easily.
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Old 25th July 2021, 17:27   #8
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Default Re: A strange starting problem with my car

Car refusing to start after running for a while - exact problem I faced with my Santro a few months back. Normal servicing did not help, battery was tested okay, no obvious issues seen with the starter motor itself.

One fine day when I was coming back home from an outstation trip (with AC ON), the car just died on a flyover. No warning sign, no CEL on the dashboard.

A local mechanic came in handy and within a few minutes, the problem was traced to low (rather no) coolant in the radiator. The point where the radiator hose connects to the engine was corroded and that would drain the coolant.

So after driving the car for a while the engine would heat up (not to the extent where the gauge climbs it's normal position) & that's why the engine wouldn't crank at this point (may be the pistons are jammed because of the heat).

I presume you are able to crank the engine after some time (let's say 10 minutes)?
If yes, probably you should look at the water/coolant level
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Old 25th July 2021, 20:27   #9
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Default Re: A strange starting problem with my car

Quote:
Originally Posted by amit_shimla View Post
Dear Sometimes the car refuses to start after being driven and the engine check light starts glowing. No matter how many times you turn the key it refuses to buzz and there is no activity with the starter motor
Do you hear these sound when you try to operate the starter?



I had almost the same problem with my starter motor. In the mornings it would start but not just after I stopped the car. Sometimes it would start but other times not.

After replacing 2 parts that were the most obvious, it turned out to be worn brushes but after replacing those I still had the same problem.

The culprit turned out to be the solenoid this time. Since replacement teh starter has worked every time.
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Old 25th July 2021, 21:01   #10
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Default Re: A strange starting problem with my car

I have the same problem with my Gyspy since last 7 yrs (no check light) - just that engine takes 6-9 cranks to start 2/5 times other times starts in 1-3 cranks. All I hear is a whining sound. Sometimes pressing the accelerator while cranking does the trick sometimes not for another 2-3 cranks. The fuel pump was changed, then a year or two later the starter motor was changed then a few years later the lockset was changed for a new set of keys (the elctrician/mech was adamant it was a bad contact inside the ignition lock). The problem seems to go away if the car is not started for a few days. I also experience sluggish wiper movement and radio switching off everytime I press the clutch. The battery is new less than 2yrs old and the problem did not go away when the battery was brand new. It is the normal 35AH Amaron.

What next?

Last edited by Ragul : 25th July 2021 at 21:04.
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Old 25th July 2021, 21:21   #11
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Default Re: A strange starting problem with my car

This definitely feels like an electrical issue. My reasoning is:

1. The starter motor although functioning okay, is getting low electrical power to sufficiently turn the flywheel by itself. Since the car is starting ok after rolling in higher gears, it means that the turning motion of the flywheel plus available (low)torque of the starter motor is doing the work of starting the engine. Please go to a car electrician and ask him to do a thorough check starting from replacing the starter relay. Anything ranging from dirty contacts to heat-induced metal expansion shorting can cause this.

2. I don't think this is a fuel pump/injector issue. You can check it yourself at any point by putting a screwdriver and listening to the injector sounds on the fuel rails.

3. OBD scans wouldn't show anything if you scan later. Live data when the car malfunctions would pinpoint the issue clearly. Some dealer level OBD readers can fetch history sheet codes from the ECU.

Please keep us posted.
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Old 26th July 2021, 12:13   #12
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Default Re: A strange starting problem with my car

Out here in Goa, when we do starter system overhauls, the electrician wires a new set of earthing cable to the body with a thick cable. Trust me that really makes the starter spin super nice.
I feel in your case also its something to do with some earthing point or some relays that are not working proper at times.

I would like really clean all wiring contacts with polish paper, use some electrical contact cleaner on all connectors etc.

Regards,
Manoj.
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Old 26th July 2021, 12:34   #13
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Default Re: A strange starting problem with my car

Near your shocker tower, there will be the "relay" for your fuel pump! Check that! It will not show up on the scan and do nothing, but just sit there and wont let your car start.

Also, when this issue happens, do you hear your fuel pump buzz when you turn your key on?


Quote:
Originally Posted by amit_shimla View Post
Dear Team Members

Sometimes the car refuses to start after being driven and the engine check light starts glowing. No matter how many times you turn the key it refuses to buzz and there is no activity with the starter motor.

Looking forward to your inputs.

Last edited by ssjr0498 : 26th July 2021 at 12:35.
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Old 27th July 2021, 18:23   #14
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Default Re: A strange starting problem with my car

As most bhpians have pointed out that this could be an electric issue, please get your car thoroughly checked at fng who deals with electrical issues.
I had the exact problem with my alto with 2.5 lakh on the odo and sa at Maruti told me to get it checked at some fng at pacca baroh (hamirpur). I continued driving her and later exchanged with grand I 10 and to my surprise engine starting issue started appearing in grand i10 as well. Thank god this issue was resolved after replacing the immobiliser and lockset.
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Old 28th July 2021, 15:30   #15
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Default Re: A strange starting problem with my car

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragul View Post
I have the same problem with my Gyspy since last 7 yrs (no check light) - just that engine takes 6-9 cranks to start 2/5 times other times starts in 1-3 cranks. All I hear is a whining sound.
It looks like your starter motor has the Bendix drive. This was a common problem in the old British cars. Have someone look at your starter motor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bendix_drive
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