Question about 1996 Buick Park Avenue

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Won't start - Starter or ignition or what?

My 96 Park Ave has been having what I thought were starter problems for a long time. If it were the first time starting it in a while it would start fine. If I had errands to run, the more stops I made the less likely it was to start. It would turn over but would not start, sometimes til the battery was dead. But a jump would get it going. Finally one day it said nothing at all. Not even click...nothing. The battery gauge didn't even register when you turned the key, even with a jump.

I have been told it is not the starter but the ignition switch, since absolutely nothing happened when I turned the key. Does anyone have any advice?

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  • tjames_ajame Nov 11, 2008

    My husband put the battery from his truck in my car today to see what would happen. I'd say he tried it about 7 times. 2 or 3 times absolutely nothing happened. 1-2 times the pump engaged but it would not turn over, click or anything. It was luck of the draw (or turn of the key) if you would even get the ding ding that the door was open. And his battery is definitly good. Do we have to disengage the air bag to work on this?

  • tjames_ajame Nov 11, 2008

    I'm sorry, I didn't mention that a mechanic so called fixed the starter a while ago. The intermittent starts actually stopped for about a week, but then the problems started up again and have progressed since. I hesitate to think it's the starter anymore because sometimes you get power to the car when you turn the key (wipers, lights, windows, etc) and sometimes you don't.

  • ikacc Apr 19, 2009

    Mom has same problem with her Park Ave (think it's a 96 or 98). Battery was replaced. Has been to the dealer - EXPENSIVE. No one can find the true problem. More symptoms include: any electric option does not work (includes gas door, antenna, windows, radio, panel lights, fuel pump). She has also noticed that while driving sometimes the panel lights wil dim and she notices a definite reduction in engine speed and power (it gets sluggish). Then when the panel lights get bright again, she has speed and power back. It is obviously something to do with electrical. Just went out today and car was totally dead. AAA came back and had to hook up a second battery to jump start. He checked the battery and connections which were all fine. She needs to find the cause of this problem before they go broke (retired and only living on SS).

  • Anonymous Mar 23, 2014




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I would get a new starter for it. especially if it was sluggish in turning or would ckick before turning.

Posted on Nov 11, 2008

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It could be the ignition going out. To test the ignition you would have to get a volt meter and find the hot wire to the ignition. When nothing happens when you turn the key, test the hot wire going out of the ignition that eventually goes to the starter. Your ignition is just like a light switch, just a little more complex. You will have to find the wire that connects the switch to the starter to see if the switch is working properly. If when you try to start the car see how many volts you are getting. It should be at 0 until you try to start the car. then it should jump up to either 12 or 24 volts depending on what your start used to start the vehicle. A lose wire from the battery can cause these same problems however. I would start with that and make sure you have good clean battery posts and connections. Then check to make sure they are tight. Then get into the ignition switch checks.

Posted on Nov 11, 2008

  • Jeremy Kenny Nov 11, 2008

    I am stumped as of right now. I am not sure what the airbag has to do with anything though. There is definatly an electrical issue though. It should have started when it was still turning over. I will have to do some research and see if i can find a better answer for you.

  • Jeremy Kenny Nov 11, 2008

    I agree with Mr. Greens.



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If you have a healthy spark (a blue snapping spark), it would not be a problem in the ignition system or the module. An orange, weak, or intermittent spark could point to trouble in the ignition.
I would check the timing on it, maybe it is a timing chain problem. It should have fired and ran a bit with the starter fluid. The fact that it didn't, even with a good spark, well, probably needs a little shop time investigating. Jumped timing from a worn chain? Low compression in one or more cylinders? A couple of things you need to consider.
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