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1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 1:46 PM

Hello - I have been reading similar posts about Cavaliers not starting when they are warm. I haven't found any posts that address my problem specifically though.

I have a 1998 cavalier 2.2 L. I am the first and only owner. The car runs like a clock. My problem is about 2 months ago my car decided it wasn't going to start when it was warm. In the morning, or after it has sat a while, it will start right up like normal. When I say it won't start, I mean: No noise at all, no cranking, no clicking, it's just a dead key. All accessories work, radio, lights, A/C, fan, the alarm.....

I haven't had any engine work done, or replaced any parts recently. The battery is a newer gel that tests perfectly even under a load. The starter is new and all wires are tight and working/testing properly. All spark plugs and wires were replaced a year ago. I've had my alarm guy out and he's made sure the alarm wasn't causing the problem, he also ran a volt test on all my fuses, wires, and starter.

Please help a lady in despair! :D Thanks for any suggestions.

Jennipher

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#1

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition will not work when car is warm.

03/08/2012 2:23 PM

"... or replaced any parts recently. The battery is a newer gel that tests perfectly even under a load. The starter is new..."

I would vote for the starter solenoid.

If the starter motor has been recently replaced, the solenoid (or relay) would almost certainly have been changed as well. Can you confirm?

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition will not work when car is warm.

03/08/2012 2:38 PM

Yes the solenoid has been replaced not the relay.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition will not work when car is warm.

03/08/2012 2:44 PM

The relay tested as having appropriate voltage, does that indicate whether or not it is faulty? Seems not...Maybe I'll start by replacing the relay...

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition will not work when car is warm.

03/08/2012 2:59 PM

Replacing auto parts without accurate diagnosis is simply throwing money at the problem and hoping you guessed correctly.

If it is an inexpensive part and easy to replace then you aren't out much, but why bother if it will have no positive outcome?

Someone else will probably come along and see this thread. They may have a different piece of insight. We get a lot of practice with Cavaliers!

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#5
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Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition will not work when car is warm.

03/08/2012 3:28 PM

I agree with you completely. I'm trying to avoid taking it someplace and shelling out a lot of cash for a diagnosis. I've already taken it to the Chevy dealership and they couldn't duplicate the problem. Not sure how that's possible, it happens to me daily. I'm not a mechanic though, so I figured a site like this could help me diagnos a problem and maybe replace the appropriate parts.

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#6

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 3:44 PM

Sounds like the ignition switch could be the culprit....

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 3:49 PM

Is there a way I can test the ignition switch? (Better yet, my husband) He has a shop full of tools, so we aren't completely outta the loop there.

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#8
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Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 4:08 PM

Do you have a lot of keys on your key chain?

Having multiple keys dangling from the ignition switch tends to cause the switch to fail over time.

I would first try to wiggle the ignition key when trying to start the car.

The other possibility is the ignition safety interlock on the shift console. Again, wiggling the shifter while attempting to start the car may provide a clue. You may have to wiggle or move the shifter with a little force. Try engaging and disengaging and reengaging the shifter from and to park to see if it works.

sometimes these switches hard fail and no amount of wiggling will get them to work. However, if wiggling one makes it work you then know which switch is to be replaced.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 5:03 PM

I just have two keys on my key chain and always have.

I've also tried a thousand different ways of wiggling the key and steering wheel too.

My car is a standard transmission, does it still have an ignition safety interlock?

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 5:37 PM

Jenny, you told us the starter motor is new. Was it replaced in response to this trouble? If yes, did the replacement make any difference at all?

Intermittent electrical troubles are difficult to pin down.

As well, we generally don't enjoy the 20 Questions game. Without making a long story of it, will you tell us as much as you can about the particulars of the car and the recent history. This can help reduce unproductive fishing for information.

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#17
In reply to #10

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 9:54 PM

The starter was replaced in response to this trouble. The replacement made no difference at all.

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#19
In reply to #17

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 9:57 PM

I'm not sure what else to add about my car. I tried to put all my info in my question. Are there anymore questions you can think to ask of me?

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#36
In reply to #19

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/12/2012 9:59 PM

Get a wiring diagram of the car and trace the start wiring.

Measure voltage when the engine is warm and will not start.

Start measuring at the starter motor solenoid and work back along the circuit.

I expect you to find zero volts at the solenoid, and as you trace back at some point you will find 12 volts appear.

You have then found your culprit.

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#13
In reply to #9

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 6:43 PM

Yes, probably, but it will be on the clutch pedal. So, when you turn the key without the clutch depressed, the car won't start and jump ahead or back if it is in gear.

It may be bad, but the temperature thing bothers me, still.

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#14
In reply to #9

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 7:04 PM

Manual transmission? You are a saint among drivers! :)

While I can't say for your particular car (I'll check), my manual transmission has an interlock built into the clutch pedal. That is, the clutch must be fully depressed to get the starter to engage.

Your car may or may not have this and/or an interlock that requires the gearbox to be in neutral.

A failing interlock switch will give you the exact symptoms you have.

Other culprits are:

• bad ground connection
• bad sending wire to starter solenoid
• bad starter relay (sometimes tapping on the relay with the back of a screwdriver will temporarily fix it)
• bad ignition switch
• bad starter (I know it was replaced, but it can still fail)

Another test is turning on the headlights and observing the headlights as you try to start. If they do not dim then the circuitry that supplies the high current power is not being engaged. That could be the ignition switch, the starter relay, or the wiring between them. It still could be the starter. If they do dim then a bad ground or faulty solenoid/starter is probably the problem.

Does it always start when cold? If so, then you might look for things that get warm or hot - typically in the engine compartment - that might go into a failure state. Heat expansion can cause ground or power connections to make or break in the wiring or the starter might open up when hot.

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#15
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Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 7:22 PM

My colleague owns a repair shop (I just called him) and said that 99% of the time it is a bad ground wire.

He suggested taking on heavy duty jumper cable and attaching one end to the minus terminal of the battery and clamp the other onto the engine itself where you can get a good connection.

If it starts - you have a bad ground wire.

You can also try the same thing between the battery and the chassis of the car if the above trick does not work.

Note, that these cars have multiple ground wires between chassis, engine, and battery. They all need to be good for the system to work.

After that it is time to get the continuity light out or a voltmeter and see if power is getting to the starter.

He also confirmed that you do have an interlock switch for the clutch pedal.

However, he asked me if the car always starts when cold. Does it?

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#18
In reply to #15

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 9:56 PM

The car always starts when it's cold.

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#24
In reply to #18

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 10:59 PM

BINGO!

Thermally induced problem.

Try the jumper cable suggestion I posted. That will tell you if it is a ground.

If not, you can use a voltmeter to test the wires going into the solenoid and the wires going to the starter to see if voltage is present to the starter.

However, my money is on a ground problem.

It could be a bad wire and not the connection at the ends, but usually the connection oxidizes and gets worse and worse over time.

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#20
In reply to #15

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 10:03 PM

I recently had my interlock switch checked. I forgot to add that I had my clutch assembly replaced. My clutch went out. My car was already having the not stating when warm problem at that time. And you are right manual transmissions rock! Another thing I could add is that this starting problem started out as only sometimes, and its progressed to the point of only starting when it's cold. I'm trying to think of things under the hood that can be affected when heated...

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#11
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Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 6:38 PM

When you turn the key all the way to start with the headlights on, the headlights should dim if the ignition switch is working...If the lights don't dim, then the switch is not making contact...If the lights do dim then you've got another problem...

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#21
In reply to #11

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 10:04 PM

I'll have to check this out! Thank you for the diagnosis tip!

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 10:12 PM

The lights do not dim at all when I turn the key to start it.

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#23
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Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 10:48 PM

It probably is the ignition switch then....

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#12

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 6:43 PM

There is no excuse for your mechanics to not be able to find the trouble source of a predictable and reproducible behavior as you describe it, in a matter of minutes. S.M.

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#16

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/08/2012 8:47 PM

Jenny,

We really need to know what your ride is. Year, make and model.

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#26
In reply to #16

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/09/2012 12:43 AM

Jenny said in her original post

I have a 1998 cavalier 2.2 L. I am the first and only owner

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#27
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Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/09/2012 5:34 AM

Let's just keep the fact that I'm so dumb to ourselves, OK? Thanks!

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#25

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/09/2012 12:35 AM

this one is tricky i have seen this on gm products before the solenoid on the starter is breaking down under heated conditions. the solenoid acts as an electro magnet when voltage is applied. there is probably a broken wire inside of the solenoid that loses contact with heat expansion and makes contact with contraction when cool.

hope this helps

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#28

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/09/2012 9:26 AM

Hello. Are you aware of Manufacture Recall relating to thermal Ignition problems ? Recall - Ignition Circuit Thermal Events Number: 04002 Date: 05/08/2007 Subject: Product Safety - Ignition Circuit Thermal Events # 04002 - (05/08/2007) Models: 1998 BUICK SKYLARK 1998-2001 CHEVROLET CAVALIER 1998 OLDSMOBILE ACHIEVA 1998 PONTIAC GRAND AM 1998-2001 PONTIAC SUNFIRE Due to part availability, this recall is being conducted in three phases. Phase 1 will consist of 1998-1999 vehicles; phase 2 will consist of 2000 vehicles; and phase 3 will consist of 2001 vehicles. When sufficient parts are available to notify customers of 2000 and 2001 vehicle, you will be notified and will receive a new initiation report. CONDITION General Motors has decided that a defect, which relates to motor vehicle safety, exists in certain 1998 model year Buick Skylark; 1998-2001 model year Chevrolet Cavalier; 1998 model year Oldsmobile Achieva; 1998 model year Pontiac Grand Am; and 1998-2001 model year Pontiac Sunfire vehicles. If the engine fails to start and the driver holds the key in the "start" position for an extended period, high current flows through the ignition switch, and sometimes produces enough heat to melt internal switch parts. If the switch is damaged, a fire could occur in the steering column, even with the engine off and the key removed. The fire could spread to the interior of the car, which could injure occupants of the car or cause damage to adjoining structures. CORRECTION Dealers are to install a relay kit and verify that the vehicle will start with a properly charged battery in good operating condition (adequate reserve capacity, or cold cranking amps). Recall 04V036000: Ignition Switch Fire Hazard Number: NHTSA04V036000 Date: 01/27/2004 Make / Models : Model/Build Years: Buick / Skylark 1998 Chevrolet / Cavalier 1998-2001 Oldsmobile / Achieva 1998 Pontiac / Grand AM 1998 Pontiac / Sunfire 1998-2001 MANUFACTURER : General Motors Corp. NHTSA Campaign ID Number : 04V036000 Recall Date : JAN 27, 2004 COMPONENT: Electrical System: Ignition Switch Potential Number Of Units Affected : 1415231 SUMMARY: On certain passenger vehicles, if the engine fails to start and the driver holds the key in the "START" position for an extended period, high current flows through the ignition switch, and sometimes produces enough heat to melt internal switch parts. CONSEQUENCE: If the switch is damaged, a fire could occur in the steering column, even with the engine off and the key removed. The fire could spread to the interior of the car, which could injure occupants or cause damage to adjoining structures. REMEDY: Dealers will install a relay kit in these vehicles to prevent high current from flowing through the ignition switch, and check that your car will start with a properly charged battery and, if necessary, replace the ignition switch. Owner notification will begin on march 1, 2004. Owners who take their vehicles to an authorized dealer on an agreed upon service date and do not receive the free remedy within a reasonable time should contact Chevrolet at 1-800-630-2438, Pontiac at 1-800-620-7668, Buick at 1-866-608-8080, or Oldsmobile at 1-800-630-6537. Customers can also check their vehicle online by going to www.mygmlink.com and entering the vehicle's identification number. NOTES: GM Recall NO. 04002. Customers can also contact The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-dash-2-dot (1-888-327-4236).

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#32
In reply to #28

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/09/2012 11:59 PM

Ok everyone! here is the scoop! I took my car to the Chevy dealership. They said back when I had the recall item above installed (8 years ago) they mounted it too close to the exhaust manifold and over the years the heat has just made the relay (recall part) faulty. We bought a new relay and installed it in a heat safe place. But here's the kicker! When we were reinstalling the ground wire from the old relay the tip broke off (I don't know the offical name of this). So my husband put a new end on the ground wire and my problem is solved. It looks like whoever crimped the end on the gound wire originally crimped it to hard and went three quarters of the way through. I can't see from this screen who posted for me to check all ground wires but I'm willing to bet this was the actual problem and not the recall relay.

Thank you to everyone for your comments, my problem is now solved and it was your ideas that helped me in this venture :D

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/10/2012 12:01 AM

It was anonomous hero who mentioned the ground wire, tell your mechanic buddy thanks, and that he was right :D

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#35
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Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/10/2012 1:00 AM

You are most welcome. I am sure it will bring a smile to his face when I see him.

Good luck with your car. ;-)

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#29

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/09/2012 9:29 AM

new coil.

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#30
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Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/09/2012 1:38 PM

New coil? Nope. A bad coil would not cause the symptom being discussed here.

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#31

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/09/2012 11:28 PM

Long back in my old Fiat I experienced this problem of no hot start. It was identified as engine become much hotter than normal because of coolant leak.

Jenny, can you check whether engine body is hotter than it should be in hot condition. It can be due to variety of reasons like low coolant level, less coolant flow rate, blockage in some of the coolent flow passage, scaling in coolent path etc.

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#34

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/10/2012 12:05 AM
Ok everyone! here is the scoop! I took my car to the Chevy dealership. They said back when I had the recall item above installed (8 years ago) they mounted it too close to the exhaust manifold and over the years the heat has just made the relay (recall part) faulty. We bought a new relay and installed it in a heat safe place. But here's the kicker! When we were reinstalling the ground wire from the old relay the tip broke off (I don't know the offical name of this). So my husband put a new end on the ground wire and my problem is solved. It looks like whoever crimped the end on the gound wire originally crimped it to hard and went three quarters of the way through. I can't see from this screen who posted for me to check all ground wires but I'm willing to bet this was the actual problem and not the recall relay.

Thank you to everyone for your comments, my problem is now solved and it was your ideas that helped me in this venture :D

It was anonomous hero who mentioned the ground wire, tell your mechanic buddy thanks, and that he was right :D

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#37

Re: 1998 Cavalier 2.2L - Ignition Will Not Work When Car is Warm.

03/22/2012 5:17 PM

My mom had a Buick and sometimes would quit or not start when it was hot (in Canada) which may be warm where you live. Turned out to be the ignition control module. When it is not starting, check to see if it has spark. If it has spark, probably fuel related.

Code readers are fairly cheap and if you can get a code you are on your way.

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