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1998 Blazer will not crank - INTERMITTENT ISSUE

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  #1  
Old 08-17-2013, 06:46 PM
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Question 1998 Blazer will not crank - INTERMITTENT ISSUE

I'm trying to diagnose an intermittent start issue with my girlfriends 1998 Chevy Blazer she has owned since new.

The problem is, that on occasion, when she turns the key to engage the starter it does not crank. On other occasions the starter engages and the vehicle starts up like you would expect. It is just about impossible to figure out why sometimes the vehicle starts and other times the starter will not even attempt to engage. The battery is fully charged, the starter is about one year old, when the starter does kick in it sounds normal...no hesitation, no clicking...it sounds good and strong and the engine fires up quick.

When the problem does occur, the vehicle may have been started up five times that day but on that sixth time coming out of the grocery store with ice and a box of ice cream or in a hurry that will be the time the starter doesn't engage. Basically, when the key switch is turned to the run position everything looks normal...lights, gauges, radio, and everything you would expect to function when the key is in the run position. However, when you turn the key further to engage the starter it does not crank like you never even tried to engage the starter.

For now, my theory is that it is the starter relay which sits in the fuse box under the hood. There is an identical type relay (maybe for the defrost system?) and I have swapped the two in an attempt to determine if the problem is a dying starter relay. I can tell you that four months ago this startup/crank problem was happening once every few days and was getting worse so I swapped the two relays mentioned above and it would appear the crank problem went away implying the problem WAS THE RELAY. Now four months later the problem is back.

Because the problem comes and goes it is difficult to diagnose. My question are...Has anyone in this forum experienced this problem? What are the symptoms of a relay going out? How do you diagnose exacting where the electrical problem is occurring? What else is in the start circuit could be failing which would give intermittent cranking problems.

To add to this story I also want to mention that my girlfriend about 5 months ago, because the vehicle would not crank, had the Blazer towed to the mechanic who had 6 months prior installed a new starter. The vehicle sat in the mechanics lot on a Sunday evening and on Monday when the mechanic went to check up on the problem the vehicle started right up so there wasn't anything for him to diagnose. I know that on several occasions where the girlfriend abandoned the Blazer because it would not crank but came back the next day the vehicle cranked right up. Again, the problem I am trying to solve is why sometimes the starter will not engage and other times it will. When it does not engage there is no sound, clicking, popping, etc. but rather it is like you never even attempted to turn the key past the normal run position in the key switch. I should also note that trying to jump start the Blazer using jumper cables does absolutely nothing to resolve the issue.

Another mechanic my girlfriend uses went through the entire system including verifying all connections where tight could not find a thing because as you would guess the Blazer would crank while they had it.

Perhaps, I should have the girlfriend but a new starter relay for $20 at Autozone then see if the problem goes away. I don't know but I hate like hell just swapping out parts until the failed component is found.
 
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Old 08-18-2013, 07:42 AM
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I agree with not just replacing parts without knowing.

My suggestion is to add a wire to the starter solenoid terminal and route it to the cabin and put a volt meter on it to determine if when the starter will not engage, if voltage is present or not to the solenoid.

If not, then it could be the relay or it could be the wiring between the relay and the starter. If voltage is always there, then it is the starter.

Has anyone tried "wacking"...technical term....the starter when it does not engage? If the engine starts afterwards, then likely to be the starter.

Rebuild starters these days are not the best of quality any more, so just because it is only a year old does not mean it is good.

Good luck and let us know what you find.
 
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Old 08-18-2013, 08:51 AM
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+1. You need to find out if you have voltage during the event. +1 on the state of affaires on starters or alternators these days. Even brand new is no guarantee they will preform.
 
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Old 08-23-2013, 03:34 PM
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I agree...it would be nice to know what voltage is available where when the problem happens. I'll need to look into running some wire. I was hoping that perhaps this caught someone's eye as being a common problem with this particular vehicle after so many years. So far, it doesn't seem like anyone has experienced the problem.
 
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Old 08-23-2013, 05:30 PM
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How odd this is happening today as well. On last evening my son's 1998 s-10 which has 1000 miles on a new engine and has had no problems what so ever since the rebuild. was out and started over and over for the last month and on yesterday alone... 10-12 times. Just would not crank at 12:30 am. All idiot lights on.... new battery, can't be jumped off, tapped starter, checked battery cables etc. To no avail we get nothing... no sound , no clicking , no turn over... nodda thing. It was parked for two hours and now we cant start. I would love to know if others have had this happen and what to do first. College starts Monday morning for him....
 
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:45 AM
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SyberTiger: Just going to take a few steps to diagnoise the problem; could be a relay, igntion switch, starter, wiring, connection.


1998 mom: assuming when you state the engine will not turn over, you mean just that...the engine will not rotate at all; likely the starter is not getting voltage to the solenoid or the solenoid is stuck.
Check voltage at the starter battery terminal and also solenoid terminal when key is turned to START. If voltage good, then I would remove the starter and go have it tested.

Hopefully it is the starter and not anything with the engine rebuild.

Good luck.
 

Last edited by LannyL81; 08-24-2013 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 08-24-2013, 01:15 PM
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wiggle your gear shifter too, make sure its not your neutral safety switch, like try starting the truck in neutral or wiggling it in park.

mine did this about a month ago. i could see the volt meter drop like 1v when i was trying to start it and nothing happened, went under it with a hammer and smacked it, started right up. changed starter been fine since
 
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by abig84 View Post
wiggle your gear shifter too, make sure its not your neutral safety switch, like try starting the truck in neutral or wiggling it in park.

mine did this about a month ago. i could see the volt meter drop like 1v when i was trying to start it and nothing happened, went under it with a hammer and smacked it, started right up. changed starter been fine since
When the problem would occur and when I was around I would wiggle the key switch as well as attempt to start it in neutral as well as to wiggle it in park but it didn't seem to fix the problem. Only waiting some unspecified period of time and trying again did it start. I started to think perhaps it was some sort of silent factory installed security system and perhaps there was a re-start delay period you had to wait. However, as this isn't my SUV I'm not familiar with the factory security system and how it is supposed to work.
 
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:28 AM
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i dont know if 98s have this issue but my 97 does; and since lanny mentioned the ignition switch im assume it does as well. so im gonna step up and say what a wacky damn issue finding out my truck starting issue was at the key not the engine. that silly ignition switch made everything in my car gradually slow down and or go bad. once we figured out what the issue was and changed the ignition switch the car ran like brand new again. the tranny shifted better the engine ran better started perfectly after that. good luck, i dont know if that i the problem tho. i do recall my ignition switch symptoms were intermittent; some cold mornings didnt turn over when it was warm i think it did turn over, but freeway driving or whenever it would just die and id be stuck side of freeway till someone would jump me. even then only once in a while did it start even with a jump. id have to sit there for hours and eventually a jump would get it running. sometimes within minutes it would die again and id repeat the situation. i do know it had something to do with my interior dash lights and or check engine lights. when the car would not start the entire gauge lights were completely blank, it was like they were just not even there. then other times the lights were on i knew it would start nd it did. so maybe make sure gauges and service lights are all on like normal when starting the engine. if they flicker or are off check that ignition switch good luck
 
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Old 08-30-2013, 11:53 AM
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I've owned my 1997 LT for 11 yrs and chgd out ign switch 4x. It most likely is ign switch. It's a factory deficiency.
 
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