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I make it rain!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well I go out to my car (2005 Chevy Cobalt) tonight to go to work. Ice everywhere. So I chisel open the door, get in, put the key in and…….nothing. It doesn’t even sound like it is trying to start. No clicking or sounds of life at all. I try again, and nothing. My headlights and dash lights came right on and didn’t flicker or anything when I turned the key. The only warning lights on the dash are an amber engine and the seatbelt light (because I hadn’t put it on yet).

So I gotta get to work and I don’t have time to play around so I call a friend and a few minutes later he is there to give me a jump. Again nothing. Same thing happens.

Back on Christmas Eve something very similar happened. Car wouldn’t start, but when I tried again about an hour later it fired right up like nothing ever happened.

So anyone got any ideas? I guess I will be taken a good ol’ sick day tomorrow to get this fixed.
 

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Security/Anti-theft System?
 

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Glock 19 Rocks!
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A coworker has a Pontiac G6 and hers did the same thing! We couldn't figure it out but it seems like there is a known problem that GM knows about. You probably will need to contact a GM dealer and ask them! I think it had something to do with some sort of relay, for the security system? :dunno:
 

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My co-workers saturn ion does the same thing. As crazy as this sounds, he heats the key up with a lighter then the car starts, sometimes. He read about trying that on some forum. GM replaced the ignition switch after this discovery and it still does the same thing. Very interesting problem, hope you get to work.

ETA: His battery has been replaced, all fuses and relays are good, starter was replaced by GM (1 of their guesses), and they did something to the ignition system? Has been doing this for about a 2yrs, only in the winter.
 

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May sound weird, but is in it Park?
 

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If you have an automatic transmission, there is a switch that keeps the car from starting unless it is in park or neutral. Try moving the gearshift a few times to see if maybe the switch was stuck or the gearshift wasn't firmly in P or N.
 

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I make it rain!
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861 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Security/Anti-theft System?
Nope

A coworker has a Pontiac G6 and hers did the same thing! We couldn't figure it out but it seems like there is a known problem that GM knows about. You probably will need to contact a GM dealer and ask them! I think it had something to do with some sort of relay, for the security system? :dunno:
Yeah I figured if all else fails contact GM.

Fuse or relay? It may be the ignition switch, but that is tougher to diagnose.
I was going to check the fuses as soon as I get home. Any idea of what fuse it would be?

CHECK GM SITES for recalls or known problems .
I looked and it seems that others have had a problem with some kind of security lock out thing that you have to turn the car off and on three times to make it relearn some code. Doesn't quite sound like my problem, but it is worth a try.

Starter solenoid could be frozen. Never heard of that though.
Someone at work did tell me to kick that.

My co-workers saturn ion does the same thing. As crazy as this sounds, he heats the key up with a lighter then the car starts, sometimes. He read about trying that on some forum. GM replaced the ignition switch after this discovery and it still does the same thing. Very interesting problem, hope you get to work.

ETA: His battery has been replaced, all fuses and relays are good, starter was replaced by GM (1 of their guesses), and they did something to the ignition system? Has been doing this for about a 2yrs, only in the winter.
Thanks, my friend's girlfriend loaned me her car for the night so I did make it in. She is getting a free tank of gas in the morning.

Yeah I know my battery is good, and just to make things weirder it only seems to happen if I leave it parked for like 10 hours after making a short trip.

May sound weird, but is in it Park?
I checked that.

If you have an automatic transmission, there is a switch that keeps the car from starting unless it is in park or neutral. Try moving the gearshift a few times to see if maybe the switch was stuck or the gearshift wasn't firmly in P or N.
Nice, something else to try.


Thanks for the help everyone. It seems that GM had a problem with their electrical system in cobalts and G6s, but I am sure they will want my money to fix their mistake. If anyone thinks of anything else I would greatly appreciate it.
 

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Does it have one of the chipped keys? If so, do you have a second key you could try? The fact that it's making no effort to crank out of the blue, and has done so before makes it sound like some sort of issue with an anti-theft system, but I'm not familiar with what's out there now.

Good luck with it - crummy weather to be having car issues!

-Pat
 

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I make it rain!
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Does it have one of the chipped keys? If so, do you have a second key you could try? The fact that it's making no effort to crank out of the blue, and has done so before makes it sound like some sort of issue with an anti-theft system, but I'm not familiar with what's out there now.

Good luck with it - crummy weather to be having car issues!

-Pat
No, no chipped key or any other security devices besides good ol' fashioned locks.

It seems after searching the internet for a bit that this is an all too common problem with chevy cobalts.
Fixes/problem include:
1. Could be a blown fuse
2. Could be the shifter is broken and does not recognize it is in park, so shift it back and forth a bunch of times.
3. A loose ground on the body control module
4. Faulty fuse box
............ and there are a few others. Mostly people report that it just happens from time to time and that the only way to fix it is by throwing money at it until a bunch of parts are replaced and the problem seems to be solved.

I really regret buying a chevy now.
 

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I don't believe
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Try starting it in neutral(turn ignition to "ON", shift to neutral, start). I don't know if your transmission has something to the equivalent of a neutral safety switch, but they can become dirty or fail, only allowing the vehicle to start in neutral. Had the same thing with my jeep. I was lucky enough to clean mine and not shell out $200 for a new NSS. I know your Cobalt is a GM and my jeep a Chrysler but its worth a try...sounds odd to be happening to a newer vehicle though...
 

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I make it rain!
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861 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Try starting it in neutral(turn ignition to "ON", shift to neutral, start). I don't know if your transmission has something to the equivalent of a neutral safety switch, but they can become dirty or fail, only allowing the vehicle to start in neutral. Had the same thing with my jeep. I was lucky enough to clean mine and not shell out $200 for a new NSS. I know your Cobalt is a GM and my jeep a Chrysler but its worth a try...sounds odd to be happening to a newer vehicle though...
I'll give it a try. What really bites about this situation is from what I have read and the two times it has happened to me, is that it is infrequent, common, but infrequent. This makes it hard to diagnose and fix the problem. I am sure that in about two hours when I get home I will sit down in the driver's seat and it will start right up like nothing ever happened. :steamed: (Still going to check all the fuses, looking at the BCM, and may get a new battery for the hell of it.)

Thinking back now there have been a lot of small strange problems related to the electrical system over the years I have owned the car.

1. Emergency brake light comes on randomly just for a split second when I am driving.
2. Shifter light burnt out.
3. CD player will not eject a CD sometimes until the car has been shut off and it sits for a while. (come back and the CD is hanging out)
4. Headlights burning out every two or three months.
5. And now this starting issue.

It seems that when a new problem starts the older ones happen less and less frequently.

Just thinking about this car all night has got me stessed out. If anyone has a Cobalt and has experience with this, or has any other ideas, post them up because when this happens again (and it will happen again :steamed:) I will be trying everything to get it started. Thanks for all the help so far.
 

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"Don't Tread On Me!"
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Sounds like once you get it running it'd be time to trade it in on something else.
The lights are on so it's not the battery. Could be a bad starter relay, easy enough to check, just swap out one of the other same relays with the starter relay, if it works great, it was the relay, if not then it wasn't the relay.
I have heard of starters/solenoids freezing up but you'd have had to drive it in the rain to get the starter/solenoid wet first.
Good luck on getting it sorted out.
 

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Do as I did. Purchase an engine computer analyzer from a parts store. When this happens, just plug it under the dash and turn it on, turn the key on but not enough to start the car. It will do a check and give you code. This code will tell you what is wrong. There are thousands of codes and all you have to do is repair the single code problem.

The computer will also clear the "check engine" and "service engine soon" lights.
 

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"Don't Tread On Me!"
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When you say "nothing" do you mean that you get nothing from the engine or that none of the dash lights, fan, radio etc... come on either?
In the OP's first post he said that the dash lights and stuff came on, just no power to the starter. My guess is starter relay.

"My headlights and dash lights came right on and didn’t flicker or anything when I turned the key. "

No "flicker" tells me that the relay isn't even engaging to put power to the starter. If the relay was kickin' in but the starter was bad then there'd be a current drain on the system and the lights would dim.
 
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