Periodic Starting Problem

You gotta Love these old VG30E/i powered beasts, raw truck DNA to the core.

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Periodic Starting Problem

Postby Joelhaggar » Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:49 am

Hi all,

I have a 94 pathfinder 4X4 and just had the starter and both positive and negative battery cables replaced which didn't seem to fix the problem. Occasionally it won't start, usually when I'm out doing errands. I'll get into it and it just is dead, turn the key and no sound from the starter but the dash lights come on. Eventually after a bunch of trys and maybe walking away from it for awhile it will start just fine.

I'm wondering what else it could be besides the the starter and cables?

Thanks for the help,


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Postby cruzstyle » Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:07 am

im not sure if there is an issue with this year, but i know that i was having this issue in my truck and it was the battery. i bought a new battery with a little higher cranking amps and that solved the issues i also checked all the grounds to make sure everything was clean and making good contact. mine would really only do this in cold weather. not sure if you are in the same situation but its an idea

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Postby Joelhaggar » Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:21 am

Thanks for the comment. It doesn't seem to be related to the weather and I have a new battery as well although I'm not sure of the amps. I would hope when I had the new ground and positive cable installed that it was done correctly but it is something I should probably check. I'm wondering if there is another relay or something that could be bad.


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Postby spankyway » Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:42 pm

I had the same problem once. It quit without me doing anything to it. I don't know what caused it. I thought it might be a poor connection in the ignition switch.

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I had same issue, well among others

Postby Scaramoche » Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:04 pm

It can be your starter relay, or starter switch. my bet would be starter switch which is in stearing columb, it's not difficutl to get to, but you do have to solder(at least that's the way it is with mine) the wires, but not to difficult.


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Postby jaydog94 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:30 pm

I had a similar problem and it ended up being the starter relay located on the passenger side of the engine compartment. I went through hell before I got it straightened out. I replaced the ignition switch, battery cables, starter, battery. It never left me stranded though, just had to repeatedly turn the key until it kicked it. I know this is an older post but maybe someone out there who still drives a pathy might benefit.

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Postby sminker88 » Thu May 05, 2011 6:46 pm

either its the interlock relay behind the battery or the switch that activates the relay which is the switch that closes when you push the clutch down mounted on the black steel bar under the dash...i brought the switch up and have it between the 5 speed shifter and four wheel H/L is a pain in the ass to work on it to adjust'll see

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Postby volox » Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:22 pm

Not to keep an old thread resurrected, but I'm having this exact same problem... my '95 starts most of the time but then will have time when it just won't start at all.

I've had the starter out - man is that operation a pain in the :twisted: ... anyway the starter tested ok. Put a brand new battery into it and it seemed fine for a week or so but it started struggling to start again today. So I thought maybe the alternator wasn't working properly... had the local parts store run the alternator test and it came up that the voltage regular / diodes were bad so I put a new alternator in... now she doesn't want to start on me - even with a jump.

So I'm kind of thinking that I've either got the ignition switch problem or a relay problem. If it's the switch in the steering column I ought to be able to bypass it by contacting two of the points together right? Anyone know which two? (can't say that hotwiring my car is something I've done before)

And if the problem is the relay, is there a way to isolate that to determine that's the issue? And / or is there a way around the relay so I can get her started to drive to the parts store to get a new relay?

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Re: Periodic Starting Problem

Postby rchio » Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:51 pm

I've recently also had the periodic start problem. My Pathfinder is a '93 automatic with ~155K miles. I've changed the starter twice and 2 relays but it happened again when I went camping last week. I've noticed that it does this when it's hot outside and I've been driving with the AC on for awhile. I was driving for about 4 hours on the freeway and then turned off to get to the camp site which involved a lot of up and down hill driving. Stopped at the ranger station for a map and then couldn't start the truck. The starter clicks when the ignition is turned but the engine wasn't turning over. The ranger tried jumping it but the battery was not the problem. After about a hour it started right up. Does anyone know if there is a inhibitor relay that prevents the car from starting with it's too hot?

Also, I've seen a lot of posts for a tranny oil cooler. Anyone have a recommendation as to make and model to get? Considering changing radiator as well but having hard time finding all aluminum one.

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Postby volox » Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:37 pm

I finally tracked down the source of my issue... turns out it was the starter. I guess that even though the starter passed the test the weekend before, the new battery giving it lots of juice must have put it over the edge. I ended up checking the relays, wiring, and all kinds of fun corners to track this down. Ended up taking the starter out :evil: again :evil: and sure enough, no dice.

For those with a '95 model out there, the strange thing I found was that the inhibitor relay is on the opposite side of the truck from the battery. In mine it the inhibitor relay and the park / nuetral relay were both next to each other right behind the airbox. The yellow/black and pink/black wires are the ones coming from the fusable link / going to the starter. The pink/black one then ends up back around on the battery side of things and connects to the wires going down to the starter in a grey connector (or at least it was in mine). The 'easy' test for a relay problem is to disconnect that grey connector and measure voltage between the black/pink wire and the battery. In run position it should read zero and should then read full voltage when you turn the ignition to start. If you get volatge there then the only segment left between your power and the starter is that little segment of wire going from there down to the starter.

Just thought I'd post that little tip for those that are looking for the information and may not have a wiring chart handy. Or for me the next time I'm looking for it. :wink:

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possible solution

Postby tedlyflyfisher » Wed Dec 31, 2014 11:15 pm

I had a similar problem and it was intermittent. After taking it repeatedly to two shops and wasting money, an auto mechanics teacher told me this, which WORKS:

There's a relay switch that only allows the engine to start when in PARK or NEUTRAL. Turn the key ON and shift to Neutral. Now turn key again. Sometimes it takes a few tries, but it always starts! Problem solved!

Hope that helps. Please help spread the word!

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