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stin1974
stin1974, Auto Service Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 765
Experience:  Domestic transmission diagnostics and troubleshooting. General repair diagnostics and troubleshoot.
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2001 Saab: 3 hatchback, 4 cyl..turbo engine...car wont start

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Good morning,My wife has a 2001 Saab 9-3 hatchback, 4 cyl. turbo engine. Approximately once every 2 ro 3 weeks, the car won't start. Lights work and everything but starter doesn't turn or click or anything. Wait 20 or 30 minutes later, it starts right up. Starter, battery have all been checked and found to be OK. Almost like some kind of 'interlock' or short or something. Any ideas??..............Desparate Husband
How many miles are on the vehicle? Is this the original starter? Or has the starter been changed that you are aware of?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

There are approximately 125K miles on car.

To my knowledge, this is original starter but not absolutely sure.

Bought the car used from 'reputable' dealer.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

UPDATE

 

Wife just walked in, says there are approx. 178K miles on car and as far as she knows, is the original starter. Friends have suggested could be related to anti-theft system, etc. but no alarm ever goes off. Wife uses original factory key to open and start car. Ignitiion switch looks OK, not loose or anything.

Ok. I'm going to suggest that the problem is the starter. When they start to go bad, they will tend to do what you are describing. This will most likely start to happen more often as time goes on. What happens is the brushes wear out inside the starter and the contaminants get in the way of the contacts inside, not allowing a good connection. That's why a lot of times when a started is going bad and a vehicle won't start, someone will tap the starter with a hammer several times an the vehicle will then start. The best way to see if it is actually th starter is to check for power to the starter when this happens. If you have power and it's not starting then the starter should be replaced. I've had this problem and took the starter in under warranty and thy didn't want to replace it because it tested fine on their machine but I knew the starter was bad because I did the test in the vehicle that I just described to you. Just because it tests fine when it's working properly doesn't really say much. After a little persuasion with them they gave me the new starter but wouldn't start the warranty for 30 days after they have it to me because th assumed it was something else but it was the starter and we never had another problem with it. I'm saying that just to say that just because they test ok when they at working doesn't tell a lot. If its getting power to the starter when it's not wanting to start, change the starter. With that many mes an being the original starter ( we think ) I would suspect the starter.
If it was the anti theft, the light for that would be on and no power to the starter when attempting to start the vehicle.
"With that many miles and being the original starter". Sorry for typing error.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Makes sense to me.

Whenever the car was taken to mechanics here, the car had been driven there. So, the thing was working then. It stopped once on her, she had it towed to mechanic but by the time tow truck driver got there 10 minutes later, car started right up and guy drove the car up on the towtruck platform. Took it to mechanic who drove car for approximately 2 weeks or so, but it never failed to start on him. He was one who "tested" the starter and said there was no problem with starter.

 

Since "testing" a starter when it's working can be unreliable, makes sense to me to replace starter since everything else seems to be working. Just so unpredictable as to if it's gonna start or not.

Yes. And as I said if it happens again and you test for power to the starter you will most likely find power there. Instead of waiting to get stuck, I would replace he starter. I mean there's a chance that it could be something else but I highly doubt it. It sounds like you are thinking of just changing it rather than wait for the problem to start again and check for power to the starter. I would agree with that based on whats going on. Would be nice to be able to do the power check but you can't make it act up. I certainly wouldn't wan you jut wasting money replacing parts but I'm pretty confident with the mileage and with what you are describing that the problem is the starter. I mean obviously you can check to make sure all the terminal are clean and tight. Good connections and everything. But other than that I would suspect the starter as I said.
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