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Intermittent starting problems, 2002 Impala

Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 2

December 19th, 2006, 6:56 PM   #1  
Intermittent starting problems, 2002 Impala


I am posting here on behalf of my girlfriend who owns a 2002 Chev Impala. Despite being an older model it only has about 45,000km on it and has regular oil changes. After the car has been running for a while, if we shut it off it usually has problems starting up again. We'd like to resolve this problem because we are worried that we could cause more damage to whatever the problem is, or get stuck some place bad.

To further describe the starting problem: If we are taking the car out after it has been sitting for several hours it will start no problem. If we go into a store or something, when we come back out and try to start it, it will not go. The panel lights all come on, but the engine does not make any attempt to start. Usually after fiddling with the gearshift and retrying to start it a bunch of times it will go, but it is scary every time.

What we have done so far: Recently we took the car into an independent auto mechanic who spent a day looking at it and could not figure out what the problem was (he was unable to reproduce it), so he recommended that we take it to the Chev dealership. The Chev dealership had our car for a week and did not keep us in the loop with what they were doing, only to tell us to bring it in when the problem was occuring. Since the problem doesn't seem to happen after the car has been sitting for a few hours, I don't think doing what they ask will help at all - only cost us more. So now I am turning to you, while wishing I had in the first place

On a slightly different note, after we got the car back, our command start no longer works. I'm also looking for suggestions on how to make sure it is connected or whatever if I can even do that without a shop. Not sure if it was a mechanic error or just bad luck, but either way we'd like to get it going again because it is freezing out!

As a former computer tech, I know how intermittent problems can be hard to troubleshoot, but usually have a process or some kind of idea as to what the problem is in advance. I'm hoping some of you car gurus will be able to offer some ideas and advice as to what is causing this starting issue. If any further information would be helpful, please let me know. I can also take pictures of any components in question if needed.

Thanks much in advance and Happy Holidays,
Brent and Becky

Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 9

December 19th, 2006, 8:29 PM   #2  
RE: Intermittent starting problems, 2002 Impala

I had a problem very very similar to this and it kept getting worse and worse until finally I could not start my car. Turned out to be a bad starter. The contact melted on the starter and occasionally it wouldn't make good enough contact to start the car and normally vibrated off after it was driven. Replaced the starter even though it worked fine and it fixed the problem. My problem was visually noticeable so it won't cost any money to look at the connection points on your starter. If they look melted they are the problem.

Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 2

December 19th, 2006, 9:14 PM   #3  
RE: Intermittent starting problems, 2002 Impala

Thank you for the fast reply - might I ask where I would look to visually inspect my starter? I know almost nothing about cars, but am willing to learn.

Thanks again,
Brent and Becky

Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 9

December 21st, 2006, 1:07 AM   #4  
RE: Intermittent starting problems, 2002 Impala

I'll try and take a picture tomorrow for you, but if you look under the front of your car about 8inches to the right of the license plate you'll see a cylinder looking device mounted on the bottom front of the engine. Where the wires attach is where you need to look. It is going to be dark so use a flash light to make sure. If any of the wires or contacts are black or the plastic around them is melted then that is your problem. Also you should jiggle the wires to make sure they are still tight.

CAUTION!! ***** These are contacts/wires are electrified!! If you touch them they will shock you. Before you do anything(other than look)to the starter disconnect the battery!!!

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 2

August 25th, 2007, 10:35 PM   #5  
RE: Intermittent starting problems, 2002 Impala

Hi brentandbecky...

I am having the same problem with my 03. the dealer say's its the passlock system and wants $600.00 to repair same. they told me that when you put the key in the ignition there is a charge that passes thru the key and if the resistance is not correct the started and fuel pump shut down so the car will not start. I have found an electronic wiz here that say's he can disconect the passlock system without disconnecting the alarm system, so the problem willgo away. I'll keep you posted about the fix, the guy here works for GM where they build the impala.


jla74's Avatar
CF Junior Member

Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 58

October 15th, 2007, 9:12 AM   #6  
RE: Intermittent starting problems, 2002 Impala

Has there been any more information on this. I am not real enthused about going out and spending $300 or so to have a remote starter installed.

Katherine E Ahrens's Avatar
CF Beginner

Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 2

August 6th, 2012, 2:53 PM   #7  
'02 impala passlock sucks

i know you guys are not car manufacturers on here or anything... let me drop this scenario: Gm has created a security system that is often faulty (at best can be said that does not have a adequate lifespan). thousands of people have had the same problem with great consequences. such as car dying while driving or just not starting. imagine being 900 miles away from home and the security system won't let your car start!! the only thing GM does for their customers about this problem is charge them $500-1,200 or more to fix it, which often the problem just comes right back. technicians are playing guessing games with diagnostic codes and replacing one thing after another running up big bills, when GM should have recalled this system, found the source of the reoccurring issue and fix it for their customers!! GM... this is a long standing problem from your company and causing potential immediate on road safety hazards and potentially leaving people stranded in the middle of no where, causing scary situations, putting people at risk.

i'd like to add that the dealership and the service department are not the bad guys here. they i believe are doing their best to help me.'s Avatar
CF Beginner

Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 2

October 29th, 2013, 9:30 AM   #8  
Problem was the cam-shaft sensor. Insulation was burned off of wires, allowing improper contact when hot. Fix required lifting power steering pump - no easy thing. Prior to this, I replaced ignition module, crank shaft sensor and starter. Problem was the cam-shaft sensor the entire time, causing over-cranking and wearing out the starter.

allmerob's Avatar
CF Beginner

Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 3

January 15th, 2016, 2:30 PM   #9  
02 nightmare

It all started with an intermittent start the car would crank but not start replace ignition switch passlock ignition tumbler with new key BCm why both wiring harnesses underneath the hood both crank sensors cam sensor is still cannot figure it out any help is much appreciated oh I almost forgot fuel pump is new as well

Frank3's Avatar
CF Senior Member

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 344

January 19th, 2016, 11:57 AM   #10  
Have you had it scanned for any codes? This may help in narrowing the problem down. So when it doesn't start, it still does crank when you are trying to start it, correct? When was the last time the fuel filter was changed? Also, when you turn the key to the on position before cranking, do you hear the fuel pump pressurizing the fuel rail? Also any indication the Passlock is thinking a theft is being attempted?

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