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Rosinante

Starting Problems: Key symbol reappears.

27 posts in this topic

Hi All,I have a feeling this specific problem has been covered about a thousand times, but my search of the forum didn't really cough up the specifics of my issue, so all help or direction to specific topics is appreciated.So I had a new stick on block heater installed (the old one ceramic one, which came with the car, pooped out) just in time for our cold snap. It does indeed work, warms things up, but the last few days of about -27 weather seems to have defeated all attempts at starting. The battery seems fine, I let the glow plugs cycle a few times, but when I try to start it--nothing... It doesn't even try, or make any real discernable noise. There is a faint whirring after I try to start, but that's it noise wise--no starter kicking in, nothing... Add to this (and this is my main question), the 'key' symbol appears in the dash after each attempt (so I have to 'unlock' the car before trying again). Anyway, before blaming the new block heater, I wonder if something else is up. I never had this problem before, in even colder temperatures--providing it was plugged in, it started fairly easily. Any ideas as to next steps (besides waiting until the weekend, and above zero temps, apparently)? My car's a 2006 fortwo. Yours,Jamie

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Very important... Do you see an "N" in the dash before the start attempt? If not, if the key symbol is there you have a fob problem. Might need reprogramming by MB.Other than the possible fob/immobilizer problem it sounds like a starter solenoid connection problem, or a bad battery. Turn the interior light on and watch the brightness as you try to start, if it dims way down you have a bad battery, which could possibly cause the immobilizer to kick in. Not really sure, but possible that if the voltage drops low enough the car kind of forgets it was de-immobilized. Immobilized is kind of the default state that it will revert to.The starter solenoid connection is exactly what it sounds like, a poor connection on the skinny wire going to the starter, and very easy other than requiring an anorexic arm with two extra elbows and a video cam in the forefinger to repair without lowering the engine. Not quite as bad as that, but close. But that doesn't explain the immobilizer, so I really wonder about your battery.HTH.

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Thanks Alex. I tried what you suggested, and it *seems* the battery is fine--no real dimming per se, there's a very brief flicker as the car tries to do something (no real starter sound mind you) but nothing else. I think I got a new battery a year or so ago, though I could check on that. There is indeed an N in the dash when I attempt a start. And, a NEW Development. While previous attempts featured a fully working radio (which I'd shut off so I could concentrate on the business of being frustrated), now my radio prefers to send me a text message. It says "Safe" for a few seconds, then goes to "I ------". It don't work at all now--even with the key out, turning it on, that's the only message I get. Hmmm...

Edited by Rosinante

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The SAFE mode on the radio means the battery was disconnected and now requires the radio code to be inputted. I know you know that. The point made is this usually only happens when the batteru is disconnected,

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Thanks Santa Ken! I didn't know that, actually... Never happened to me before. I'll have to figure out what the radio code is (I seem to remember a little card that must be somewhere). The weird thing is I haven't touched the battery through all this....

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Hi All,I have a feeling this specific problem has been covered about a thousand times, but my search of the forum didn't really cough up the specifics of my issue, so all help or direction to specific topics is appreciated.So I had a new stick on block heater installed (the old one ceramic one, which came with the car, pooped out) just in time for our cold snap. It does indeed work, warms things up, but the last few days of about -27 weather seems to have defeated all attempts at starting. The battery seems fine, I let the glow plugs cycle a few times, but when I try to start it--nothing... It doesn't even try, or make any real discernable noise. There is a faint whirring after I try to start, but that's it noise wise--no starter kicking in, nothing... Add to this (and this is my main question), the 'key' symbol appears in the dash after each attempt (so I have to 'unlock' the car before trying again). Anyway, before blaming the new block heater, I wonder if something else is up. I never had this problem before, in even colder temperatures--providing it was plugged in, it started fairly easily. Any ideas as to next steps (besides waiting until the weekend, and above zero temps, apparently)? My car's a 2006 fortwo. Yours,Jamie

The problem is the battery, not enought charge...Maybe to much start and stop engine in a cold wheater, the battery doesn't have the time to charge when you drive only few kilometers in very cold day...Same problem for me in last fews winter, but now i try to driver more kilometers before a very cold night/morning to let the battery charging enought. Edited by David_18

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Thanks! I will indeed give the battery a check... Hopefully it doesn't need replacing--seems a bit soon for that. Our winter has been really mild so far actually; it's been averaging 5 above or so pretty much the whole season. This is the first cold snap we've had in Lethbridge, and we're only a couple days into it. Hopefully I can just get it a good charge and go from there!

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With the new info, I feel fairly certain there is a bad/loose connection from the battery. Most likely one of the posts, less likely but possible the ground cable. Check for corrosion, looseness. If corroded clean both post and clamp with water, baking soda and a wire brush, metal scrubbie, sandpaper, something nice and vigorous to get it all clean and shiny again.Smear some vaseline or grease inside and out to help keep it clean.

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Sounds like the battery, did you try boosting it?If you don't know what boosting it means.STOP you can do major damage to the computers in the car if you hook the booster cables up wrong.Or you can put a battery charger on it for 12 hours or so, (red lead to batt. Positive) it is a very good idea to disconnect one of the battery cables when using a charger, the diodes in the alternator don't like prolonged reverse currents much.CANMAN

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Quick up date and Thanks... Battery,as suggested at the outset, it was indeed. I removed it, topped up the electrolyte to the marks (it was rather low) and trickle charged it overnight, and things are fine. I think my mind tends to ignore the battery out of principle as it's such a pain to get at, especially in these temperatures; that and the fact that my suspicions when things go wrong tend to focus on the last problem (new block heater on Friday, car won't start on Monday = must be something to do with that, rather than Laws of Synchronicity or perhaps Murphy). That hard foam cover seems to get smaller and smaller each time I remove it, mind you, so I think I'll be checking the battery more often! Thanks to everyone for your help here!

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I removed it, topped up the electrolyte to the marks (it was rather low) and trickle charged it overnight, and things are fine. I hope this means that you only added water, of course.

Edited by gordo.bernard

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For future reference, NEVER EVER top up a dead battery! The level rises as it charges, and may overflow. If you can see the plates fill only to cover the plates, charge, then top up to correct level. Use distilled water if tap water is hard, highly chlorinated or unknown. (Vancouver quality water is fine.)

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So today we have this new problem. It doesn't sound like any conventional electrical or starter problems. Does anyone have a clue?.... 1. Turned key to first "on" position; all indicators and radio on as normal. 2. Shifted to neutral, rolled out of garage in neutral as usual. 3. Turned key to "start", nothing happened (no cranking, no sound, no clicks, no smoke)! 4. Turned key back to "on", got blinking "key" indicator 5. Re-locked and un-locked car using key-remote, no change 6. Lights appear to all work 7. Tried other key, no difference Yesterday the car did not misbehave. Car was in garage all night. Weather here is damp, above freezing. We have just over 100,000 km. We just had a "B" service two weeks ago, and for the first time at our independent shop; I'm going to check with that mechanic as well.

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You rolled out of the garage in neutral, does this mean you are on a hill?If so you can try roll starting the car.Turn the ignition to run, get it rolling in N then select 1 if rolling fwd or R if rolling in reverse.Your problem could be:1. Bad engine ground, the bare braded cable at the back of the engine.2. Bad small grounds above the intercooler.3. Starter.4. Fuse for the starter in the SAM.5. Wiring problem with connectors at the SAM.6. SAM internal problem.Canman

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Foot on the brake as well? I've had this happen as well and it has always been my foot not applying the brake enough to activate the brake light switch.

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With it reverting to immobilized mode (blinking key) it is almost certain to be a battery or battery connection problem. The normal state of the immobilizer is on, if the voltage drops low enough it will forget that it was de-immobilized. You may also find your radio going into safe mode and needing the code to unlock it. To help confirm, turn on the interior light, watch it as you try to start. If it dims way down, battery or connection for sure.Have you changed your battery yet? 5 years or more and any battery is suspect, although some go 10 years or more if the water is kept topped up. Another common one is the solenoid connection to the starter, but with the reverting to immobilized symptom start with the battery/battery cables for sure. Could also be a connection elsewhere. The immobilizer action is a very strong clue that voltage is dropping drastically at the computer that handles immobilization, not sure if that is the SAM or the ECU.

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i chased down this problem not to long ago.if the battery checks out ok, really have a good look at the ground cables an connections. theres a ground from the battery to the body on the floor. there the engine to body connection by the egr valve in the back an a few small wires connected above the intercooler fan. they may look ok but can be corroded inside the connectors. make sure they are clean an tight.

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Good ideas, thanks all!The info in my original post was incomplete - when I got to looking at it myself late last night, the starter solenoid was trying to engage (before the immob kicked in). So, yes, battery. Jump started this morning; pulled the battery and will get another one.While in there, noticed a lot of moisture under the mat, so we're drying that out too.

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So my 2005 smart sat for a month. over half tank of deisel. battery was dead so I hooked up a charger and power came on. the shifter is stuck in nuetral. I unlocked the car with the fob, inserted the key, turned it on for the glow plugs and after the normal time elapsed the light went off, turned the key and click click click. the key appears in the dash again and it wont even turn over.Any thoughts?

Edited by calgarysmart

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Battery is flat. Keep charging overnight. Renew if no improvement. It is always recommended to remove battery from vehicle and charge at room temperature.

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What is this, the tenth thread describing the same problem??

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