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This question pertains to 1998 Kia Sportage which has an intermittant problem starting. With a completely cold engine, when the key is inserted into the ignition switch and the switch is turned to the start position, the ignition lights on the dash light up, but there is no response from the vehicle, no starter operation. Then, about a half hour later, I can put the key in the switch and turn the key, and the vehicle starts without any problem. This might happen for several days in a row, then be followed by a month of no problems. Then suddenly, it happens again. The starter won't operate when the key is turned, but then maybe ten minutes later, try again and it starts normal. When it doesn't start, I do hear a clicking sound from a silver box behind the dash in the area just above my left knee.

Since it's intermittent and comes without any warning, I thought that it may be the ignition switch going bad. But now, I'm not so sure. The battery is good, so that can be ruled out. It's so strange that this problem has come and gone whenever it wants. Until this time. I knew it was bound to happen. This time it's being stubborn and it just won't start. The starter just won't operate. I do hear the clicking sound behind the dash.

Any one have any ideas regarding the diagnosis. Anyone know of any trouble shooting tricks? In other vehicles, I have hot wired around the ignition switch to prove that the switch is bad. Those were much older vehicles with a switch that was easily accessible. The switch for the Kia is much harder to access and I'm not sure which wiring harness behind the dash is the ignition switch wiring. Can anyone point that out to me?

This vehicle has an automatic tranny, so I did check and cycle the gear shifter back and then forward to make sure that the park safety switch is engaged. It didn't help. However, this doesn't rule out that the park safety switch is bad. I need to isolate that circuit to trouble shoot that.

Thanks for any help.
 

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1998 and 1999 Sportages have bum starters which cause the exact condition you are experiencing. The soleniod contacts become pitted and the result is intermittent no crank.

There are no rebuild kits available to the starter soleniod. The only fix is replacement of the entire starter.

You can prove the problem is the starter itself and not some other electrical problem by performing the following:

Leave the ignition off. At the starter itself short the soleniod wire to the main B+ cable on the starter. If it always cranks then it is another electrical problem. If it doesn't crank you've proven that the soleniod is bad.
 

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Checked out the solenoid and starter. Both are good. Solenoid kicked in and the starter cranked strong each time I jumped the voltage from the hot starter terminal to the solenoid terminal.

Before checking the solenoid and starter, I tried to start the car with the key, but it wouldn't crank. When I checked the solenoid and starter, I disconnected the solenoid wire so I had access to the entire terminal. When I pulled the wire, the connection seemed to have a loose fit. After checking the solenoid and starter, I wanted to check the solenoid wire to verify that it was getting 12-volt power when the key was turned to the start position. However, I didn't have someone to sit inside the vehicle and turn the key while I held the voltage meter on the wire. I suppose if I had a 12-volt test lamp with a long wire lead, I could have checked for voltage that way. But I didn't have the test lamp or long wire lead at the time. At any rate, after I reconnected the solenoid wire, I tried starting the car with the key and it cranked right up. I'm thinking that maybe the solenoid wire connection was bad and it was corrected when I disturbed it while testing the solenoid and starter.

The factory connection for the solenoid wire seems like it has a poor fit and is loose. I'm going to cut the factory connector off the end of the wire and put on a heavy duty connector that fits tight. If the no-crank problem never comes back, I'll conclude it was the poor wire connection on the solenoid.

At any rate Axe Man, thanks for pointing me to the starter and solenoid.
 

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If the contacts in the starter solenoid were bad, you would still hear the solenoid move. It seems that you aren't hearing that when you turn the key when it doesn't start. The silver box you are referring to is probably the starter relay. This could be the problem. Like the starter solenoid, the contacts need to move, which is the clicking noise. Over time those contacts can build up carbon and won't make a good connection. If you can, try swapping it with another relay the next time this happens. You could probably swap it out with one from under the hood, maybe the horn relay since it's not required to operate the engine.
 

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There is no starter relay in the Sportage electrical system. The ignition key passes full starter soleniod current. The relays clicking under the dash are for the power window circuit.

I had a friend who owns a 1997 and he had the same problem with that connector to the starter soleniod. He also cut out the connector and soldered the wires. That's why I had you check the starter directly before condemning it as bad. Glad to see you fixed it.
 
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