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The Element basically starts when it feels like it :razz: No, but there doesn't seem to be a discernible common denominator for why it won't start, when it won't start.

We replaced the starter less than 6 mths and just replaced the battery less than a mth ago. The possibility of a bad solenoid crossed my mind but you can hear it engage the starter.

Basically, when the problem strikes, all the electronics come on, dash lights, radio, etc., and you can hear the solenoid engage the starter, but the starter doesn't even attempt to turn over.

I thought it might be a short somewhere but the battery's not draining. I've checked it every time I can and it is 12V+ each time. There's no irregular amp draw or voltage drop that I can find either. Everything seems to be working as designed!

What I'm not familiar with is the "immobilizer" feature that I keep reading about. I get that this is a theft deterrent but how exactly does it work? I'm guessing that's our problem today as the steering wheel is now locked up, the gear shift won't move and none of the electronics or lights come on.

Could something be triggering this "immobilizer" and that's why the car, seemingly, randomly won't start? Like a broken key FOB?

Thanks!
 

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EOC Rank: Crankypants
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Welcome, Reondadomino.

First, do you have other chipped keys on your ring? Try starting the car with the Element key all by its lonesome.

Second, have your mechanic remove, clean, and replace every cable: Battery terminals, ground straps, and starter.

Finally, there are many relevant threads in this section. Enjoy your reading.
 

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The starting problem could be due to a bad ignition switch or a damaged key chip.

But the key chip/immobilizer doesn't involve the mechanical locking of the steering column.

If the "steering wheel is locked up", unless you parked on an incline or the steering wheel was turned to one extreme as you shut off the engine, that problem is probably due to a a worn/bad ignition lock and/or worn key.

Ideas:
If the front wheels are turned to an extreme, try turning them in that direction while you twist the key. Once the steering wheel turns freely, point the wheels straight ahead, then wait 5 seconds.

See if the immobilizer light has turned off. If it still blinks, the immobilizer circuit doesn't like the chipped key; try a different key in the ignition. If the immobilizer light is off, the key was accepted; the ignition switch may be broken.

If starting is possible but intermittent with all keys:
Turn on the headlamps. Try to start the car.

Verify that the starter solenoid, not the main relaysThe starting problem could be due to a bad ignition switch or a damaged key chip.

But the key chip/immobilizer doesn't involve the mechanical locking of the steering column.

If the "steering wheel is locked up", unless you parked on an incline or the steering wheel was turned to one extreme as you shut off the engine, that problem is probably due to a a worn/bad ignition lock and/or worn key.

Ideas:
If the front wheels are turned to an extreme, try turning them in that direction while you twist the key. Once the steering wheel turns freely, point the wheels straight ahead, then wait 5 seconds.

See if the immobilizer light has turned off. If it still blinks, the immobilizer circuit doesn't like the chipped key; try a different key in the ignition. If the immobilizer light is off, the key was accepted; the ignition switch may be broken.

If starting is possible but intermittent with all keys:
Turn on the headlamps. Try to start the car.

Verify that the starter solenoid, not the main relays, clicks/pulls in. When it does, the headlamps should dim until the engine starts. If they don't dim, either the starter is broken, solenoid's internal switch is bad, or the immobilizer isn't working correctly. If they dim but the starter doesn't crank, check for bad primary cable connections/grounds and/or a discharged battery (the radio can work with a lower voltage than the starter).

Questions:
There was an ignition switch recall. Was your E involved in the recall? Did you have the work done?
 
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