Intermittent starting w/dashboard lights problems - Mazda Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-23-2008, 04:33 AM Thread Starter
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First of all, I am the owner of a 2000 Mazda 626, 4cyl.

I've been having an intermittent starting problem off and on for several years now. When the problem first appeared, it would happen maybe once every six months. The problem has progressed, and now it is happening maybe once per week.

The problem is I try to start the car, and I can hear the starter cranking just fine, but there is no spark and the engine will not start. When this problem happens, if I sit and wait anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes, eventually the car will start and run with no problems.

The strange part of this problem is when the car is not starting, there are no dashboard lights (airbag, seatbelt, low oil, and other warnings) and the digital odometer will not display when I turn the key. Normally, these lights momentarily light up when I turn the key to start...kind of a "lights check", but not when the problem is happening. Everything else electric in the car works fine during the problem - windows, radio, AC/heater, etc.

This problem happens if the car is hot, cold, and in all kinds of weather.

I would appreciate any suggestions as to troubleshooting steps or ideas as to what this could be. It happens so intermittently that I am never at or near an auto shop when it is happening, so I have never been able to get a mechanic to take a look at it. Plus, when it does happen, it only lasts for a max of 15 minutes, so my chances of getting a professional to look at it are relatively slim.

Thanks,

Carl
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-23-2008, 09:37 AM
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<div align="left">
Quote:
First of all, I am the owner of a 2000 Mazda 626, 4cyl.

I've been having an intermittent starting problem off and on for several years now. When the problem first appeared, it would happen maybe once every six months. The problem has progressed, and now it is happening maybe once per week.

The problem is I try to start the car, and I can hear the starter cranking just fine, but there is no spark and the engine will not start. When this problem happens, if I sit and wait anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes, eventually the car will start and run with no problems.

The strange part of this problem is when the car is not starting, there are no dashboard lights (airbag, seatbelt, low oil, and other warnings) and the digital odometer will not display when I turn the key. Normally, these lights momentarily light up when I turn the key to start...kind of a "lights check", but not when the problem is happening. Everything else electric in the car works fine during the problem - windows, radio, AC/heater, etc.

This problem happens if the car is hot, cold, and in all kinds of weather.

I would appreciate any suggestions as to troubleshooting steps or ideas as to what this could be. It happens so intermittently that I am never at or near an auto shop when it is happening, so I have never been able to get a mechanic to take a look at it. Plus, when it does happen, it only lasts for a max of 15 minutes, so my chances of getting a professional to look at it are relatively slim.

Thanks,

Carl[/b]


First gut feeling, ignition switch. Second possibly a main power relay. When I get to work, I'll check the starting wiring diagram and see if there are any obvious electrical gremlins lurking in there. I first thought loose or bad battery connection until you mentioned everything else works except *bulb check* mode and starting.
Third and last until I check the wiring diagrams.
Does the car have an aftermarket alarm? It may also have a factory installed passive anti-theft system, various manufacturers have been implementing them since the mid '90s. Of course, the system being passive, many car owners are unaware that they even have it. GMs system used a key with a resistor pellet imbeded in it. fords uses a transponder key and I think here l8ly everyone has switched to some kind of transponder system. The 10 -15 minute wait sounds suspiciously like a passive anti-theft system resetting.
Passive ant-theft disables spark and\or fuel keeping the car from being started by hot-wiring or any means other than the correct key.

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-23-2008, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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<div align="left">
Does the car have an aftermarket alarm? It may also have a factory installed passive anti-theft system, various manufacturers have been implementing them since the mid '90s. Of course, the system being passive, many car owners are unaware that they even have it. GMs system used a key with a resistor pellet imbeded in it. fords uses a transponder key and I think here l8ly everyone has switched to some kind of transponder system. The 10 -15 minute wait sounds suspiciously like a passive anti-theft system resetting.
Passive ant-theft disables spark and\or fuel keeping the car from being started by hot-wiring or any means other than the correct key.
[/b][/quote]

No aftermarket alarm. I saw a note about the anti-theft system in another post and to be honest, I'm not 100% sure if I have one. I tried tested the anti-theft theory one way. When it wouldn't start, I used the remote to lock and unlock the car, hoping it would reset the anti-theft if I had one. That didn't work. Any other ways to test this? Perhaps locking only with the key instead of the remote?
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-23-2008, 12:53 PM
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OK this car apparently has an immobilizer system (passive anti-theft). So, we'll start with what the DIYer can check, immobilizer troubles are best left to the dealer as they have the necessary equipment to diagnose and reprogram.

The starter circuit is fairly basic:

Manual transmission shown. There essentially is nothing between the battery and the starter but the starter switch and a neutral saftey switch. Since it also seems to affect *bulb check mode* and all other electrical devices function, IMHO it is a switch problem.

Ignition test procedure:


Service:

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-03-2008, 05:40 AM Thread Starter
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<div align="left">Since I posted this in October on a couple of boards, I've taken a few steps and have it finally fixed, I believe. Until the final fix, I would have it happen at least once a day if not more. Since the fix, I haven't had it happen at all.

1. First, based on knowledgable advice, I cleaned the ground points next to the battery and under the dash. This did not fix the problem, but it was overdue anyway.

2. Most people had guessed it would be connected to the ignition switch. I replaced the ignition switch, but it did not help. The logic in swapping out the switch was solid, but it just wasn't that point where the problem was happening.

3. Finally, I took it to the local Mazda dealer. Realize, my car is a US model 626, but I live in the Netherlands and my mechanic speaks English well, but not perfectly. He agreed with me that I did not have an immobilizer system on my car. There was no chip or anything else embedded in my car's key. However, in between when I scheduled my appointment and the actual appointment, I began timing how long it would take my car to start after the initial failure. I found out that it was consistently 7 or 8 minutes in between a failed start and starting fine. After I told that to my mechanic, he surmised it was something he called a "start block". His solution was to bypass this "start block" wiring, taking it out of the equation. Since he performed this change (around half an hour of labor, minimal parts), my car has started fine each and every time. This was the first I had heard of a "start block" and perhaps his English skills are coming into play, but it has been 5 days now and not a hint of the old starting problem.
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