, Salem, MA

July 21, 2012

Saturn and Impala have starting problems

Auto Scanner, Larry Rubenstein
The Salem News

---- — Q: I have a 2008 Saturn 300. Every now and then, it won’t start. I try to start it every five minutes. After I wait awhile, it will start and it will be fine. It’s very annoying because I never know when it will do this. Sometimes I think it has to do with the change of the climate. Nothing shows up in the dashboard to show what might be wrong. It’s a great car; no problems with it. I would like to know what makes it not start sometimes.


You did not define whether you have a no-crank problem or a crank-with-no-start problem. I will briefly address both. A no-crank is when the starter motor does not spin over when you turn the key. That could be caused by a bad starter motor, a defective neutral safety switch, dirty battery cables, a marginal battery or even an intermittent problem in the ignition switch. A crank with no start is when the starter spins the motor over but the engine does not fire up and run on its own. For an engine to run, you need fuel, air, spark, compression and proper cam to crankshaft timing. When you go to the repair shop, be prepared to leave it for a few days until the shop can duplicate the problem. Be specific to the repair shop about your no-start problem.

Q: I have a 2005 Chevy Impala with 30,000 miles on it. For the past seven months, the car has been giving me a problem starting after the first start of the day. It will start with one turn on the first start of the day. Then after each attempt to start, it won’t start. It starts and stalls or it will putt, putt and then conk out. It takes three to five turns before it catches. It runs great, but the starting is a big problem now. Can you tell me what you think could be the problem?

A: Since you have not indicated you have a service engine light on, you most likely won’t have a computer service code listed. Your problem could be with your key. If you have a spare key, try changing to it. If that checks out OK, then I would be looking at the fuel pressure on your car. How we do that is as follows: We check the ALLDATA information system for the proper fuel pressure that has been designed for your particular car. We then put on a digital or analog fuel pressure gauge and check that all specifications are exactly right. If that checks out well, we record the pressure and walk away for 15 minutes. If the fuel pressure has a significant drop, we know we have a problem in our fuel pressure system. Locating the leak can be a little tricky but not too horrible. The first step is to identify the problem and then make repairs.

Car Care Tip:

Another Volvo going to the scrap yard this week due to a missed scheduled maintenance, which called for a timing belt replacement. When the timing belt broke on the highway, the upper engine was destroyed. The cost of repair meets or exceeds the value of the car. Your scheduled maintenance is in the owner’s manual. If you don’t have access to the manual, your service adviser should be able to give you the information you need.


Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears every Saturday. Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to