When the car is cold the starter motor does not immediately engage when the ignition switch is turned. When the car has been running, the problem does not occur. There is a slight crackling sound when the car is cold and the starter motor does not engage as the key is turned.
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Re: starting problem with 1998 Saturn SW2
Ok I know that Coolant Temp Sensors are very very Common to Saturns, Only buy the Parts at saturn they are Calibrated Parts. Aftermarket do not work well.
You could have a work starter bendix Drive or a worn Flywheel that is causing the crackling sound you hear, To be totally honest I need to hear the sound to tell you for sure. If this information is good please Give me a Fixya! Rating and if there is anything more I can do for you please contact me .
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When the vehicle is hot, does the Starter turn the engine over? If not, your starter is being affected by Heat soak, and you must replace the starter. If the starter does turn over the engine, you have a sensor that is failing due to heat soak, or your ECM is failing when hot. This is much more difficult to diagnose since each sensor will have to be monitored to find the faulty sensor.
The fack that the lights dim indicates to me that power is going to the starter motor , but the motor is not turning. I could be wrong but I think the starter is pooched. You can try a jumper cable from the battery to the big post on the starter , If you get a big spark but no action , then that's what it is fore sure.
when you say it revs and revs i assume you mean the starter when you turn the key,if so it sounds to me that your solenoid in the starter is not always engaging properly,so yes i would go with a new starter. good luck