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This morning the car wouldn’t start again. Only three weeks since the last time. Cocking the wheel didn’t help. Nothing helped. I waited about five or ten minutes, and it started right up.

I don’t think this is related to the colder weather, because when it didn’t start on the 9th the low was only 66º. There just doesn’t seem to be any pattern, except that after waiting a short while the car always starts up. We can’t reproduce the problem at will, so I don’t think any mechanic will be able to help. I’ve had 25 people give me 25 different ideas of what it could be. I’m mystified.

Our biggest clue is that after a few minutes it starts up fine.

Apparently this is known as a “No Crank” scenario. We know the battery and the connections to the battery are good. Since there’s no clicking or clunking I assume it’s not the starter, solenoid or Bendix.

After a bit of internet research I have come across reference to other people having this problem. A lot of folks seem to have narrowed their problem down to some kind of anti-theft device called the “passlock” system which is being improperly triggered. I guess next time this happens we should look for an icon of a car with a lock on the dashboard, as apparently that’s some kind of secret signal. I think I would have noticed it, though.

(This is one of those rare days I actually drove to work, because I was taking my eleven-year-old Power Mac 8600 in to the office to see if I can pull some data off the drive before giving it away to a friend of a friend. First time it’s been booted in over three years.)

Published inMiscellaneous


  1. Lee Lee

    Not an expert on passlock, but I believe that is the technology where your key sends a signal to a receiver in the ignition switch, if the code doesn’t match, it won’t start.

    A good place to look, as you may have a ghost in the machine.

  2. If it were a stick, I’d suggest a dirty contact on the clutch starter safety, but now I’m running out of ideas.

    Probably a loose connection somewhere inside the dash related to the passlock. First class pain in the ass to fix and probably not worth it.

  3. Liz Liz

    I had an old VW Rabbit that did this to me for several months. It was a bad starter motor. It took a long time to figure out because I had just had the starter motor replaced and we (the mechanic and myself) figured it couldn’t be that. But I had such a great mechanic back then, one day when it wouldn’t start, I called my mechanic and he came over immediately and looked it over, figured out what was broken, and took and it and fixed. Man, I miss that mechanic. Art Miller in Cincinnati, Ohio – you rock!

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