Car starting/not starting issue, help!

Here's the deal, my car doesn't like starting lately. I went through the whole ignition switch fiasco, new battery, etc. But the funny thing is that after I have got it started when I park it and shut it off, it
will start again, and again, and again right at that time. An hour later, not so much.
I have also discovered that to really get it started I have to turn the wheel so it locks in place then sort of twist the wheel to the left and turn the ignition, then it will ~probably~ start ~often~. When it doesn't start it just sort of sits there like it wants to, but something won't let it.
So this is just not making sense to me. Unless it's some anti-theft thing with the steering wheel? This doesn't sound like a starter going out, does it? I am loath to bring the car in to have anyone look at it, rather not spend the money ya know? Good thing that AAA membership arrived in the mail!
Any advice is much appreciated!
Thanks Impy
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And the year make and model are???

-
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94 Geo Prizm. 133k on it. Automatic. 4 cylinder 1.6L.
Shep wrote:

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That having been established, maybe you could give us a little better description about how it behaves. If it has been sitting for a while, and you try to start it, does the starter activate, does the engine turn over ('crank') at normal speed, do you hear indications that it is trying to fire?
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No, it doesn't crank or turn or anything really. You can hear a sound like electricity being delivered but nothing. Either it does nothing or it cranks and starts. There is juice, but no bang. But if you play with the steering wheel while turning the key then it's like something aligns and bang, it starts. Takes awhile though. Doesn't seem to be getting worse either.
snipped-for-privacy@nospam.nix wrote:

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Okay, that helps a lot... For some reason or the other, when you turn on the start switch, it does not always send power to the starter motor...
One of the things that can cause this is called a 'neutral safety switch'. This switch is keyed to the automatic transmission, and the purpose it to prevent the car from 'cranking' unless the transmission is in Park or Neutral. Sometimes these switches get cranky, or the position of the shift lever is not aligned to the position of the switch. Anyway, if this thing is acting up, you might well have such problems.
Some cars also have a passkey security system. This is the GM type key that has a little black tab built into it...Inside the tab is a resistor, and when you put the key into the switch, the computer checks the resistance of that tab and compares it with a standard resistance value. If they two don't match, the starter does not activate. The resistance reader in the steering column/switch assembly is often at fault. Dont know if the Prizm has one of these, but if it does, this can be the whole problem. The simple fix is to have a mechanic bypass the passkey reader. A less simple fix is to replace the damn thing.
This all goes without saying that any intermittent break in the start switch wire which should go to the solenoid can give you this problem.
An intermittent solenoid can also give you this problem.
And, clearly a bad starter can do it.
Poor cable or wiring connections, grounds, etc are common causes.
These are just a few of the things that you can think about and perhaps troubleshoot.
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Thanks. No little black thing on the key. So you think it's the starter? Any clue why it starts 100% after running awhile?
I appreciate the info. Maybe it's time to drop the thing off somewhere and have smart people look at it. It's past me at this point. Get an estimate or looksee at least.
That neutral safety switch thing sounds like a good possibility though.
Anyone want to buy a used Geo, cheap???
Thanks again Impy
snipped-for-privacy@nospam.nix wrote:

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No, I am not sure why it starts 100% after running a while. You just have to get in there and start wringing out the various circuits until you pinpoint the cause of the problem.
Sometimes it isn't electrical.. There have been cases where something, fuel, water or whatever, loads the cylinder or cylinders when the car is stopped. A so called hydrostatic lock. The engine cant move until that bleeds away. This is unusual, and I doubt it applies to you, but a good technician should be able to eliminate many of the questionable areas.
Then, as Sherlock Holmes said, 'Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth ...'

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One thing I have discovered is that the neutral safety switch is usually attached to the PRNDL? If so, the PRNDL is inbetween the seats on the floor, not on the steering column. Maybe I can take a looksee in there. I am going to try starting it in neutral, see if that makes any difference.
Appreciate the feedback! Big Sherlock Holmes fan btw.

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That is sometimes a good way to check it out. With the column unlocked, move the shift lever up and down through the detents, and then see if it has any effect.
You will find it if you are systematic in what you do.. Dont throw parts at it.

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Impy wrote:

What kind of car is this? What year? What ever it is I think it is the starter because this happened to my dads 84 gmc sierra and if the car rolls al little or if it was recentley on it will probaly start. If the car is manual you would notice mabe it won't start but if you put the clutch in and roll (not pop starting) and then you turn the key when the car is stopped it might start. Also is the car manual or automatic?
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