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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2002 3.5L Intrepid. A couple years ago, I first noticed that it didn't always start on the first try. It always seemed to crank fine but sometimes it took a second turn of the key for it to start. Nevertheless, it always started. When I had it in to a mechanic for another repair, I asked him about this starting issue, and he said it could be a lot of things, but he would replace the starter relay to see if that helped. It did not help, but since the problem did not seem to ever prevent the car from starting, I did not take it back for further investigation.

A few days ago, I climbed into the car in the morning, turned the key and it did not even crank. The dashboard lights came on, and the radio came on, but there was no cranking and no clicking. Just nothing for three key turns. I had to be sonewhere so I got a ride and wasn't able to investigate further until evening. I tried to start it a couple more times with the same results. I checked the lights and the power windows and everything seemed to be powered just fine, so it did not feel like a battery issue. I did the keyturn thing to check the CEL codes (the CEL is on due to emmission system leaks) and there were no new codes. But after that I turned the key once more to see if it would start and it started right up!

All the same, I didn't trust it to not strand me so I took it to a mechanic. He started it numerous times with only a couple recurrences of the issue of having to turn the key twice and no recurrence of the no crank issue. He recommended replacing the ignition switch, so I agreed to let him do that. I brought it home today and ran some errands. On the fourth start, it did the same old thing of making me turn the key a second time to start it, and I fear the no crank issue might recur as well. Any ideas what might be causing this? Thanks in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Update

It's been awhile since I posted this, and I'm overdue for an update. After you all advised me, life happened and I got busy and did not get the starter solenoid or battery cable fixed right away. So, one day I drove to a friend's house and an hour later when I tried to leave, the car did its "no crank no start" thing again. I tried several times over the course of about ten minutes with no cranking at all, so I finally gave up and caught a ride home. That evening my husband took me back to try again, and just like before after sitting all day it started up after only a couple of no crank key turns. I ordered the solenoid repair kit and got a mechanic to repair the solenoid and check the grounding cable on the battery. He said the cable was fine but there was a broken grounding strap that he repaired. He showed me the worn solenoid contacts he had replaced, and they were indeed very worn.

After the repair, th mchanic noted that the car is still sometimes slow to start (long cranking or takes two key turns to catch). In the couple days I have been driving it since, I have noted the same thing. He suggested that the slow start issue and the periodic no-crank issue may have different causes. He and I are hopeful that the solenoid repair will prevent the no-crank issue from recurring, but I think I need to give it a month before I can say for sure. He thinks the slow starts where it cranks but doesn't catch easily are caused by fuel not reaching the motor in a timely fashion. He suggested the fuel pump might be the issue. The original fuel pump actually went out several years ago, and there were no warning signs at all. It just quit one day. He suggested that the replacement might not be of good quality and was failing early. Any thoughts on that? Replacing the fuel pump the first time was very costly because it required removing the gas tank. Obviously, I'm not going to do that on a hunch. Is the fuel filter on these cars easy to replace? How often should it be replaced? Thanks again for your help! There is also a new issue with the car's oil light that I think is unrelated to this so I will make a new post about it soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
"Oil light - let me guess: when you’re sitting at a stop light, idling in gear after the engine has warmed up, the oil light flickers or comes on solid until you accelerate."

Bingo! Brilliant guess! Thanks for all the suggestions and helpful info. I will be trying out the key turn trick to see if it helps eliminate some possibilities and the Techron, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Another update. My intermittent no crank no start problem is STILL not fixed. As noted above I had a mechanic change out the starter solenoid and contacts using the recommended kit above. That was in early June. For nearly four months the car cranked every time and started. I thought it was fixed. Until today. This morning I started it up without issue and drove about a mile and a half. Parked it for only ten minutes. Climbed back in to find that it wouldn’t crank or make any clicking or anything even though the dashboard lights up. Same as last spring. I sat there for an hour periodically trying it again with no change. Finally walked home. It’s got to be an electrical problem, right? Already had a new ignition switch installed and had the battery cables checked. What next? I am not a mechanic, though I do simple diys. I just need something to direct the mechanic to try because in my experience they are often wrong in diagnosing difficult problems like this and I end up paying to replace things that were not causing the problem, and I already read online about someone whose car wouldn’t crank or click and they replaced the starter 3 times yet the issue kept returning. So I am not convinced replacing the starter is going to solve this either. Help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I should probably also mention that I tried the suggestion peva gave regarding the fact the car has for years now often required two key turns to start. I discovered that if I turned the key to on for a couple seconds without turning it far enough to crank, then turned the key off and turned it a second time but this time far enough to crank, it would always start. So, I’ve just gotten into the habit of doing that extra key turn to on before cranking. If I understand correctly, that indicates that the fuel pump is fine but there is either a leaky check-valve or leaky fuel injectors. Regardless, the no crank issue seems to be a totally separate problem, right? Fuel problems should not affect cranking as that is an electrical function?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I have another update for this thread regarding the intermittent no crank no start problem with my car, and I hope it will be the last. To summarize, starting last spring my Intrepid decided at random times to not crank or start when the key was turned despite having a good battery. I took it to a mechanic but it kept starting for him, so it was hard for him to diagnose but he thought the ignition lock was very worn and might be the issue. Replaced it. Problem recurred. This time I asked for advice on here and it was suggested to have him replace the contacts and solenoid on the starter. This time the car seemed to be fixed until 4 months later when it refused to crank or start again. This time it had to be towed. The mechanic ran tests on the electrical wiring and said it tested good. He took off the starter and bench tested it, and it tested bad. He suggested that replacing the contacts and solenoid had only been a bandaid on a failing starter that bought me four months, but now I needed a new starter. The new starter was installed a couple months ago and I THINK my no crank issue is resolved. It still dies sometimes on the first start attempt, but I am not planning to fix that issue right now because it hasn’t gotten any worse in the two plus years it has done that, and I am reluctant to continue sinking money into this car. I hope this info helps someone else with similar issues. Have the starter bench tested before you replace it.
 
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