Strange starting problem in my 2005 Maruti Alto

There is no specific pattern of this issue cropping up, sometimes there will be no problem even after driving long-distance and sometimes the issue may surface even when I am out running some errands nearby.

BHPian amit_shimla shared this with other enthusiasts.

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 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 to isolate the failing component but there was no success:

  • Battery replacement done
  • OBD scan done, but no error found
  • Distributor replacement done
  • The entire lockset including the ignition key was replaced
  • I had installed an Autocop car security system about 10 years ago, which had the engine immobilizer too, got that completely removed
  • Starter motor servicing, which by the way is working fine as per my car electrician
  • 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.

Here's what BHPian Tgo had to say on the matter:

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.

Here's what BHPian vigsom had to say on the matter:

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.

2. 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.

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