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98 Chevy Cavalier Intermittent start issue (No turnover, jumps, then will start fine for a while)

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New User

Jul 22, 2017, 11:35 PM

Post #1 of 4 (688 views)
98 Chevy Cavalier Intermittent start issue (No turnover, jumps, then will start fine for a while) Sign In

Hey everyone. I am having an off/on start issue with my car. I don't have any tools to diagnose much aside from a code reader so I am looking for any suggestions while I wait to see my mechanic. I apologize in advance as I am not very mechanically inclined.

98 Chevrolet Cavalier, 2.2L, 184,000KM

A few weeks ago my 98 Chevy Cavalier wouldn't start suddenly after stopping to get gas. I parked at the pump and heard a single strange "beep" noise, I don't know where it came from and I never heard it again. I shut the car off and when I came back out it refused to turn over and no start. I managed to jump start it after having to adjust the cables on the terminals twice. I figured it was the battery since I knew it was old, so I bought a new battery and drove home. Before I swapped the old battery out I turned the car off and tried to start it again and it started up just fine multiple times, no issues at all. I put the new battery in anyway. Fast forward to today and I made a stop at a store (not my first stop), when I turned the key to the on position (just before cranking over) I heard the fuel pump prime but also a weird kind of high pitched "skritch" noise come from the car, but it started up fine. The next stop I made it refused to start again, wouldn't crank just one click. Had to jump it and once again had to adjust the cables twice before it would turn over at all... then it fired up no problem. Drove it home and was idling in the driveway when the check engine light came on and started idling really rough. After a lap around the block it seemed to idle fine again but check engine light remains. At my house the car started up without a hitch a good 6 or 7 times. However I did notice that on 3 occasions I heard the strange "skritch" noise, it's high pitched and seems to come from the steering wheel area from what I can tell. My code reader gives me p0113 "Intake air temperature circuit", it's the only code it will produce as of now. The start up issue seems to be pretty off/on...not very consistent. The fuel pump was changed by the previous owner, within the last 1.5 years.

My mechanic is booked solid until later this week and I leave for an important trip in 4 days time, so any help is welcome... That's really all I know, If anyone has any suggestions I will gladly take them. I have no clue where to start. Thanks in advance and I will do my best to answer any questions I can!

(This post was edited by Dyslexe on Jul 22, 2017, 11:38 PM)

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jul 23, 2017, 1:14 AM

Post #2 of 4 (677 views)
Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Intermittent start issue (No turnover, jumps, then will start fine for a while) Sign In

Could be more to this but time to recheck the cable ends at the battery and peel back the probably hard plastic covers of eyelet ends. They may be almost missing inside from corrosion.

Fix for that now will be OK ask or look for quality cable end splices and use "electric grease" at battery and at least a coating or better removed other ends of cables and clean those as well. Careful at starter motor not to bust it off.

Remember, neg cable off first and on last when all done. Use a memory saver saves losing memory, clock, any presets like radio and codes stored plus you don't lose adaptive memory for idle speed might have already sometimes an issue sometimes not. Absolutely know any procedures for resetting any alarms ahead of this!

It would be a surprise if a 98 had good OE cable ends unless cared for all along - many would be junk by now. I don't trust code readings just yet as you've lost power and regained it with a jump IDK how confused a reader could be for a while go back and check when just the crank issue is resolved for some time and even if no check engine light is on or if on after cleaning up all or new ends a new code is probably valid info then,


New User

Jul 23, 2017, 2:23 PM

Post #3 of 4 (639 views)
Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Intermittent start issue (No turnover, jumps, then will start fine for a while) Sign In

Thank you so much for the suggestion! The car was dead this morning so I enlisted the help of a friend who had some better tools. He tested the battery and said it was good so we cleaned up the cable ends and battery terminals first thing as they were pretty corroded. There was also a purple wire to the left of the battery beside the engine that didn't seem to be connected correctly (maybe a ground wire? not sure :/). It was on the stud but moving freely, so my friend moved it and connected it securely to the car. Both of those things seemed to do the trick as it restored the power and started up beautifully! I am still going to keep an eye on it and if I have more starting troubles I'll completely replace the cables. I think they may have been replaced by a previous owner already.

I did notice the skritch sound again just once today, but it still started fine. At this point I am trying to catch the sound on video so it can be properly diagnosed if it's an issue. The check engine light is also still on with the same code. Now that it seems to start fine should I worry about this? Or do you think it will clear in time now that the battery is hooked up properly? I haven't had the funny idle come back at all.

Again I really appreciate the response, it helped me out so much in figuring out where to even start Smile

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jul 23, 2017, 3:00 PM

Post #4 of 4 (628 views)
Re: 98 Chevy Cavalier Intermittent start issue (No turnover, jumps, then will start fine for a while) Sign In

? That extra wire: You mean hooking that up now everything is fine - right? Yes - negatives or some positive cables come with the extra even if not used you bought cables by just how long they were. The extra is frequently to ground the body right to a radiator support or real body metal most vehicle have something extra for grounds all over the place and could explain the whole thing ESPECIALLY if you jump started the car and made that ground connection that wasn't (always suggested) to battery but rather engine metal or may have found a spot the completed ground. YOU NEED TO KNOW SO YOU CAN TRUST IT AGAIN.

Do use at least WD-40 or similar on those terminals while intact at grease and oil change time, all the time and they last forever. If not they never last now about 20 years.

Good luck, hope that was it. If new ends even are in the cards just look for good ones once a wall item but pricey at NAPA now see them even at Walmarts don't look to bad untested by me yet as I always grease the thing for anyone even in not the reason I opened the hood at all!


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