Reader Question I have a question to ask you about my 1994 Mazda B-3000. The engine intermittently does not start. When you turn the key you never know what you’re going to get. The starter turns but sometimes the engine does not start. If I’m lucky enough to be parked on a hill (it’s a standard) in first gear or reverse, once you get it rolling and pop the clutch it starts without much trouble. It seems to have plenty of power from the battery, (lights, etc. all work). Someone told me it’s a flywheel problem but my mechanic said he didn’t think so, and is unable to diagnose the problem. He said he took the starter out and checked it and found nothing wrong. What do you think? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Very Frustrated, Joe D.
Good question Joe,
If you can start the engine via push starting….it has to be a problem with one or more of the following:
1. Battery does not have enough juice to fully engage and spin starter motor fast enough
2. Starter motor is weak, and does not engage and turn engine
3. Flywheel has a bad spot on it, when you turn the key , you hear the starter motor turning…and usually hear a grinding noise because the starter is trying to grab a piece of the flywheel that is missing
4. There is a starter relay that is bad or some other electrical problem that is not allowing electricity from the battery to flow to the starter
5. Bad connection at the battery and battery cables. You can check this yourself…make sure the cables are clean and tight! You should not be able to move or wiggle the battery cables on the battery with your hands. Make sure you do not have a ring on your finger or a watch on your wrist when working around a battery…I have a few scars on my fingers to prove that batteries can HURT!
I would have the battery “LOAD” tested, and a starter “DRAW” test done by your mechanic with the items on the vehicle….don’t take them off the vehicle to test them.
A quick “Shade Tree Mechanic” test to diagnose a bad starter: when the engine is in “no start” mode. Turn on the headlights (make sure they are good and bright…or you have a bad battery), then turn the ignition key trying to start the engine. If the headlights DIM, but stay lit, then you probably have a bad starter motor, if you turn the ignition key and the headlights go OUT, you probably have a bad battery or loose or dirty battery cables.
ALWAYS check the battery cables first, 9 out of 10 times it is a loose or dirty battery cable…that has been over looked, that causes a no start or intermittent starting problem like the one you are having.
Keep me posted Joe,