View original topic: occasionally won't start
jkidd152 Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:51 pm

A very rare nuisance is becoming more frequent. Occasionally my 2wd 1985 Automatic Vanagon will not start. By this I mean, it will not crank at all. It has happened after hours of driving, and it has also happened cold in the garage. A jump start will get it to fire up immediately. I have replaced the ignition switch and the neutral safety switch. I have inspected the battery ground and the ground at the transmission. I have a '98 Subaru engine and a TDI starter. I've looked at the wires at the starter and they appear okay, although I need to take a better look and check the connections.
Today I tried to start it and get all the warning lights and buzzes but no crank. I left it and came back an hour later and it fired up. I shut it off and tried again and it would not crank. I popped off the harness to the ignition switch in the steering column and plugged into a spare switch I carry in my map pocket. Turned that with a screwdriver and it started. Tried again and it started. Removed spare switch and plugged the harness back into the switch in the steering column and it started. What the hell? This thing only starts when it wants to!
My plan is to get a load test on my battery first and foremost. Just need to rule that out. Then I am considering a hot start relay that thatvwbusguy sells here:
However, in my research I came across a thread where 10cent said that is not a good solution for vanagons like it is for busses and bugs.

I guess it seems to me I've got something between my ignition and my starter. Do you think I should do the relay or is there more trouble-shooting tests I should do? I hate to keep throwing new parts at it. Although, the neutral safety switch replacement did fix my back-up lights!

Thanks in advance for advice!

Ahwahnee Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:59 pm

Sounds like you've researched and pursued the common culprits. Have you cleaned and tightened the connections at the battery itself?

I see no harm in adding the relay though the fact that you are also experiencing the problem on a cold engine suggests something more than the common hot 'failure to launch'.

piruvan Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:12 pm

Have you considered the starter solenoid going bad? That's a typical cause of no starts. Try tapping the solenoid with a wrench while someone holds the key in the start position and see if it cranks. If it starts, the solenoid is going bad.

jkidd152 Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:18 pm

I am sure my battery connections are clean and snug but I will check them again. Thanks Ahwahnee.
Yeah the solenoid. I have thought about that. My previous bus, a '71, needed the hammer on the solenoid treatment quite a bit :roll: .

Thanks, I will give it a try and see what happens.

jkidd152 Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:44 pm

I just got back from Les Schuab. As expected, my battery is strong and the alternator works too. Funny tho, as I was leaving, it wouldn't crank. I popped in my spare ignition switch and it started right up! So maybe it is the ignition switch....again. I know quality varies with those things, but isn't it weird to have to replace it twice in a year?

dhaavers Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:16 pm

Remove, clean & resnug ALL connections...THEN report back.

jkidd152 Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:13 am

Okay all connections and grounds are good, except these:

These are coming off the solenoid and they are slightly loose and dirty. I will replace with new and see how it goes!

Thanks all. :D

danfromsyr Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:43 am

yeah I'd suspect them..

and don't tell me that that spring clamp is on your high pressure fuel line :!:

it might be ok. but I'd prefer to have a proper fuel injection screw clamp.

PDXWesty Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:11 am

Did you take the battery ground connection off at the body and clean it? I had a very similar situation and I thought I checked everything. The battery ground looked clean, but when I actually took it off, there was corrosion underneath that couldn't be seen.

Good luck!

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