Question about 1998 Saturn SL

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98 SATURN 5 SPD will start at times and not at all other times

I have a 98 Saturn SL 5 speed. Over the past 5 months I have been stranded several times because the car will not start. We have taken the starter off each time, tested & cleaned all contacts. After replacing the starter and reconnecting the battery the car will run fine for about a week maybe two.. then the same problem accures again. You never know when or where the car is not going to start as there is no indicators. No service engines lights or indicatiors to signify a problem. I am financially strapped at this point in my life so if anyone can help lead me in the right direction as to where the problem may be at I would really appreciate it. We are baffled at this point. I am just glad it is standard and can be clutch started, but I am tired/frustrated when I have to wait for someone to help me push my car to get it started.

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  • bentonj Nov 12, 2008

    Thank you.. We do not hear any click, but will forward this to my mechanic (Dad), hopefully that will resolve this really frustrating problem.

  • luckylena Dec 01, 2008

    I have the same problem. This weekend have installed the second starter in a year on a 99 SC2. Only to be stranded in less than 24 hours . Same description a clicking sound. Fortunately after attempts of start and stop it started but again when I went out again I find a car that will not start. No warnings of any sort, no service engine light. I am financially strapped and need transportation to work, care for my aged mother and get my daughter to school. I am in a panic because I depleted all available funds on Saturday and don't know what to do only to get a dazed look from mechanics with I don't know. Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated

  • Anonymous Jan 02, 2009

    98 SATURN 5 SPD will start at times and not at all other times, and radio and clock starts over.



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When the car does not crank can you hear a click from the engine compartment?
If you can, that is the Starter solenoid ( a relay) trying to connect the starter to the battery.

Here's how the system works. When you turn the ignition key to start your car, the ignition switch sends 12 volts to the starter solenoid (which is mounted on the top of the starter). Because the starter uses so much current from the battery, the solenoid is used to connect the starter directly to the battery. At this point your car should crank over. What happens lots of time with the starter is that certain parts inside the starter gradually wear out and get dirty, and the starter cannot operate in this condition. HOWEVER, Depending on where the starter stops after it has done it's job, determines whether or not it will crank the next time you try it.

I speak from personal experience since I just went thru this exact excerise 2 weeks ago with my F150 pickup. When I turned the ignition switch to start, all I got was a click, click. I took a hammer out of my truck and gave the starter a couple of swats. not real hard, just medium. It worked several times. I finally broke down and bought a starter. (a rebuilt one) BTW, a new starter comes with a new solenoid already attached.. For my 94 F150 it cost me $100.00.

You might check around at some auto salvage yards and see if you could get a used one. it would be cheaper but might get you thru until you can afford a rebuilt one.

Hope this helps, Good luck Loringh PS Please leave a rating for me Thank you

Posted on Nov 12, 2008

  • kayelem1963 Jun 13, 2011

    I have replaced the starter twice and now I have a leak in my radiator and the belt squeals like made. I am so bloody made at this car. It only has 79,000 miles and is a '98 saturn sl.


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I had a toyota van with a similar problem and it turned out to be a relay between the keyed ignition and the starter solenoid.  I went through 4 new starters, and just like you had intermittent problems.  However, mine was an automatic trans, so it was a major hassle.  Finally, I remembered I had remote starter switch in my tool box from back in the days when you used to set the dwell on points and had to turn the engine over from inside the engine compartment. I connected it between the battery positive and the smaller solenoid screw on the starter, and found that I never had a problem starting it with this switch.  After testing in that mode for a few days, I went to the hardware and bought a $5 push button switch and installed it in my dash.  I made the same connections, but also installed a 7 amp fuse between the pos terminal and the switch (same amperage as ignition had in the fuse box).  This permanently solved the problem.  To start the van, I would turn the ignition key to on, then push the starter button, and I was off.  That is the way cars worked 40 years ago. Check and see if there is relay between the ignition switch and the starter solenoid. If so, this may be the culprit. Good luck.

Posted on Dec 13, 2008

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You said the chime was going off when trying to start the car...correct. I had a similar problem on my 1995 Saturn. The key not removed chime would chime even when the key was removed and the door open. As I was cleaning the lock cylinder and what I thought would clean the switch, I fried the start system ground wire. Upon removing and disassembling the start switch, I found the switch contact that turns the chime off brocken. A small piece of the very thin copper contact had shorted out the switch and wires melted. Now, I never had any starting issues with mine, but your problem could very well have been caused by the same problem I had. All kinds of start problems could be caused by a small piece of metal floating around inside the switch. Hope this helps.

Posted on Jul 28, 2010

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I had this problem. It was the crank position sensor, it goes intermittent when hot. I've gone through two in the past five years. It's cheap and pretty easy to replace. Check this video.

Hope this helps.

Posted on Dec 05, 2008

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