Engine Turns Over But Won't Start

2001 Oldsmobile Alero (Page 1 of 3)

This problem may be covered under warranty. Ask your Oldsmobile dealer.

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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
111,400 miles
Total Complaints:
50 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (26 reports)
  2. passlock problem (10 reports)
  3. turn key to on position wait ten minutes and start (7 reports)
  4. no one seems to know. maybe the security code in the key (2 reports)
  5. replace body control unit (1 reports)
  6. replace the fuel pump (1 reports)
2001 Oldsmobile Alero electrical problems

electrical problem

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2001 Oldsmobile Alero Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #50

Oct 202022

Alero V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


My car started driving really slow then eventually stop keeping a start I replaced fuel pump starter and ignition switch and my car still will not start with security light on solid tried doing relearn three sets of ten minute key in on position but the car still doesn’t start.

- Tashauna G., Youngstown, US

problem #49

Feb 032014

Alero GL 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

I have an issue with the car turning over periodically. I try to start it occassionally and it simply will never turn over and start.. If I try again, the second attempt is usually successful. I've taken to have it fixed. The dealdership thought that they addressed the problem, but after my $250 repair, the problem is back again. Of course I took it back to them and it works everytime that they start it. It's getting progresively worst so I'm afraid that my 2nd attempt to start it might not work in the near future.

I'm going to take it back again to the shop. Since it's happening more often now, maybe they can reproduce the problem and figure out what's going on.

I've had my 2001 olds alero since 2001. When I bought it there was only 10k miles on the odometer. I've maintained the care very well over those years and believe' there's still life left in her yet. I've only had one other issue in the past when it would not start which did have to do with the security system. That time is cost me $500 to address.

Good luck to all who have the issue with getting it to start. I agree, it seems to be a common problem in which a recall should be issued.

- Chris A., Powder Springs, GA, US

problem #48

Sep 052013

Alero LS 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,000 miles

Replacing a fuel pump in the 01 alero-like cars. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cWmdRgVjQWQ#t=171

Here are the 3 things I have done to my 01 alero to fix my no start issues. I still love this car even after needing the fuel pump a couple days ago. 1. The *&%$ing Fuel Pump -- Battery is good, starter is turning, no leaks, but no vroom vroom -- Always make sure you check the other parts of the fuel system before dropping the cash on this. A $15 replacement for a badly corroded relay in your engine fuse box could be a fix for the same issue. -- Video above shows how to replace on your own pump(need car lifted evenly w/ room for tank + a lift under tank) -- Parts and mechanic labor for this will might be $500-1000 ^You can get a new pump for $50-300 depending on location of shopping

2. The *&%$ing SECURITY issue(not the radio security issue though) -- The dash security light will blink when the key is turned to on, no start when things should be working -- There is another thread on here for this -- Turn key to on, leave key uninterrupted for 10 mins. -- The security light will stop flashing and go solid. WAIT. It should disappear, but sometimes it won't. If it doesn't disappear shortly, just give it another 20 seconds. Turn to off, then it should start. Unfortunately beware of double security!!

3. Neglecting bad spark plugs, alternator, or battery will accelerate the decay in the others and possibly ruin ig coils etc causing a clusterflunk of problems that will follow one after another and will turn your engine into scrap. These usually fall into the no power category.

4. Buy a car manual from an auto store. It pays for itself the first time you didn't need to punch a hole in a wall.

- Chris K., Ypsilanti, MI, US

problem #47

Dec 212012

Alero 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 143,562 miles


I was driving and the car died. I put a new battery in it and then it started then died so i tried again and it started. I held the gas & as soon as I let off gas died again. Now I can't get it to crank over, nothing. I'm lost, i need this car please help me.

- Kenneth K., Howell, MI, US

problem #46

May 102012

Alero 2.4L

  • Manual transmission
  • 136,000 miles

This morning when I went out for work the car wouldn't start. My neighbor heard me out there and told me it sounded like it wasn't getting any fuel. I only had the car for six days, and already put $400.00 in it, that was just for the front brakes, rotors, pads, hardware, and installation. So when this happened I was feeling pretty down. I don't have the funds for another visit to the mechanic nor do I want to go into debt over this. I was online trying to find out how to install a fuel pump when I came upon this site. I read every complaint and the ones about passlock caught my attention. I went out and turned the key on and the security light was flashing and I never noticed that before. So I turned the key to ACC and waited 15-20 min. turned the key to start and it rolled over like there was no problem. I checked the owners manual like some of your writers have said and there it was. I'm just thankful I didn't get started on taking the fuel pump out because it is full. I just hope the anti-theft works when a theif comes to steal my car and he don't have ten minutes to wait for the security light to stop flashing.

- whiteoh, Columbus, OH, US

problem #45

Sep 162011

Alero V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 158,000 miles

So any Olds Alero owner on this page knows that waiting ten minutes for your car to start is VERY Annoying, but I have found the answer at least for my car, and it's free! When I get into my car, I have learned to turn the key to the on position WITHOUT turning the engine over. Sometimes I can see that *&%$ security light wink at me. That's a sign that it wants to waste ten minutes of my time. I turn the key back to the off position and turn it back to the on position, again without cranking the engine. If the *&^% light doesn't wink, crank the engine. It will only take you one or two times stuck in a parking lot somewhere to get used to not starting it immediately. Good Luck, hope it works for you.

- Jim G., Dunlap, TN, US

problem #44

Nov 012011

Alero SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles


This is absolutely ridiculous how many people have the same exact problem!!

I have been taking notes however, and I will be fully prepared when I take my POS into the mechanic on Thursday.

Here's an overview. Car will crank but will not turn over. For a while, leaving the ignition in the "ON" position for a bit, turning it off and then starting it would work. After that stopped working, I found that turning the car "ON" putting it in neutral, getting out and pushing the car backwards a foot, putting it in park, turning it off and then starting would also work. For a while I thought it was a fuel problem, but now I'm not so sure. From reading the comments it seems like it could be a number of different things, mainly faulty wiring or an issue with the security system. I guess I will find out on Thursday! Thanks GM! I'm too poor to buy another car!

- Sara S., Billings, MT, US

problem #43

Nov 152011

Alero LS 3.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles


- Tina B., Lakeland, FL, US

problem #42

Nov 232011

Alero 3.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles

this car su(ks ass DO NOT BUY A OLDS ALERO !!! i wish i had seen this site before i bought my daughter's first car. it has been off the road more than its been on! if gm wont recall for vats/and passlock systems ,then tell anyone and everyone you know not to buy a gm with a factory installed antitheft device because they su(k they are defective !! had car towed to the dealer today they charged 175 to diagnose it and now want 775 to fix the piece of sh!t !the car starts for 3 seconds and dies i hear the fuel pump build pressure then the system disables the injectors .the dealer says the ecm and bcm are dead i will buy parts from a junk yard and fix myself and once its running i am disabling vats as stated in post #15 then i guess i will have to have the computer flashed unbelievable.

- mygmbites, Taunton, MA, US

problem #41

Oct 102011

Alero 3.4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,877 miles

I am the only owner of this car and have not had many problems with it. However, now the car will not start. While in park, the steering wheel will not lock. Once the car is in another gear (D, R, 1, 2), the transmission is free rolling like in neutral. The vehicle will not turn over at all, it is like the car is not in park. Have tried starting it in neutral also with the same effect. The battery is fine. In park, the vehicle transmission is engaged and will not free roll. Would appreciate any hints or solutions.

- helix007, Calgary, AB, canada

problem #40

Jun 182011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


recent purchase 01 olds alero for my 19 year old daughter, 2 days later car turns but wont start ! quickly fond out fuel problem so I shot carb cleaner in the air intake and car ran till this burned off, got on line saw many of the same complaints, soulution turn key on and wait 10 min for the PASSLOCK to reset then the car will start. I can not believe this is a G.M. fix for this problem but later found this in the car's owner's manual ! so what triggered the P.O.S. PASSLOCK in the first place? tin contacts that corrode on the ignition switch,the fix clean and grease or solder directly on and eliminate the connector.Somehow it does not surprise me that G.M. pretends to not be aware of this problem when the quick fix is in the car's owners manual ! WHAT THE F_ _K G.M. to many of your cars have this piece of crap PASSLOCK system on them for you to ignore

- Mark S., Omaha, NE, US

problem #39

Apr 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

I bought this car for my son. It ran great at first but it didn't start fast. It always cranked a little longer than normal before starting. Now it cranks but won't start at all. We tried resetting the pass lock and that did not work so we replaced the ignition system and the computer. We had the fuel pressure checked and it gauged good also. I can't find the yellow wire on the gas tank to check to see if it is loose. I have taken it to 2 mechanics and neither of them can find a real solution. If any one had this problem and got it resolved please email me and let me know what you did

- Lea S., Eldon, MO, US

problem #38

Jan 262011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

This is my 17 yr old daughters car...One day without warning, It wouldnt start. She stopped for gas and it wouldnt start back up after fueling. We couldnt hear the fuel pump running at all....it turned, but wouldnt start. Her father showed up and got it started with strarter fluid but it stopped once it burned off....I had it towed to his shop. Her Father said he had the fuel pump replaced. He charged her $115 I think. She hasnt paid him yet.

- kathihsr, Cheektowaga, NY, US

problem #37

Apr 022011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Once again...Mom my car won't start. I can't find someone to look at it right now...I've had it towed twice already on her emergency service i bought her. So, I picked her up, left the car....decided watching Derek Jeter was far better than pretending I am fixing this car...I'll update this 3rd complaint after the game when I can hopefully find someone to help me. One of us has to date a mechanic...or get rid of this unreliable POS.

- kathihsr, Cheektowaga, NY, US

problem #36

Mar 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I have am 2001 Alero and sometimes it will start and sometimes it wouldnt, just turn over. So i replaced the fuel filter, fuel pump and fuel injectors cleaned out. Being stranded on side of the road several times being towed pushing the car off the road and Five Hundred Dollars later none of the above has solved the issue. Until finally someone told me about the security systems and holding the key in the ACC position for 10 mins. this is ridulous and there should be a recall on the security system or Oldsmobile should fix this issue for FREE !!!!! I have read the numerous complaints about the same problem and gives symptoms of being something ELSE.. I am going to make an formal complaint to Oldsmobile and I asked they everyone else do the same. And just maybe an recall will be done.

- Donald E., Houston, TX, US

problem #35

Feb 242011

Alero 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 159,500 miles

Ok so we get our taxes back and buy this car from a gaudge they had just done a lot of work to it ....we drive it for about a week and a half ...stop to put gas in it so we can go pick up our grand son......turn the key to start it and it turns but wont start ....then i notice the security light is flashing ...because i know someone els that has had this prob..on a 2000 chevy malibu.....same ignition systym by the way.....i tryed a few simple fixes...well nothing worked so now it has been taken back to the shop where we bought it....this made my wife cry witch really pisses me off ......now my comment to G.M. is how about a recall before somthing really bad happens or someone gets hurt or killed because this happened while they were doing 70mph and changing lanes when this happened??????????!!!!!!!!!!

- dejong, Comstock, MI, US

problem #34

Jan 052011

Alero LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 147,000 miles

I hope this helps...I've read all the complaints about 2001 Aleros not starting (just like mine--3x) and I think Pep Boys FINALLY FOUND THE ANSWER!! After one mechanic telling me nothing is wrong with it, another charged me a lot of money to replace the fuel pump, and it still would randomly not start for me. Well, this is the first time I've taken this problem to Pep Boys and they said it's because of the security code in the actual key. If the car's computer doesn't recognize the code in the key, either b/c it's the wrong key or b/c they key is old and worn out, then the security/anti-theft system will tell the fuel pump to not send fuel to the engine. That's why we're all being told it's our fuel pumps. BUT, today they reset the code in my key and it works starts fine. My key is still old, however, and he said if it does it again I will need to go to the dealer to get a new key and have it re-programed. But all it cost me at Pep Boys for this discovery was the cost of the diagnostic. I've also decided to use the other original key that came with the car (I've just been keeping it as a spare) b/c it's not nearly as worn out. They also said that would help.

I hope this helps all Alero owners out there. Good luck!!

- laurenca, Sherman Oaks, CA, US

problem #33

Sep 282010

Alero 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,983 miles

I had the issue of the car tuning over but not starting. I took it to a crooked mechanic that was going to charge me $ 908.00 to fix it. I decided to change the fule pump and fuel filter myself. It cost me total of $245.00. Once I changed it the car still would not start. I finally got it started but since then the car has done the same thing. I friend told me about this sight and I found the issue with the security system shutting the fuel system down. I tried the method and it works. The security light still come on every few days but I have had no other problems with the fuel system.

- pokey, Hendersonville, TN, US

problem #32

Dec 172010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,274 miles

I have had many many problems with my alero. I hate it! I wish I had bought anything other than this.

$700 bills every few months to fix a stupid sensor in the hub that breaks as soon as you get it fixed. I quite paying and totally ignore all lights on the dash until today.......

This is the first time I have ever had it not start. After draining the battery trying to start the stupid piece of crap I decided let's check online! WOW!!! Seems like everyone who has an alero agrees and has had this problem. It will crank and turn over but won't catch. I tried it in neutral and it ran... For 3 secs and boom died. So I ended up trying this pass lock solution and to my amazement it fired right up.

No I know what to do if it happens again, rather than draining my battery.

Also my husband drives a tow truck and he is going to use this information for work.

- cdokuchie, Kenora, ON, Canada

problem #31

Oct 102010

Alero GLS 3.4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Ok, so this is pretty simple... This car is my mother's. She just bought it used from a private party a few months ago. Got a good deal on it. (Now I know why.) We were borrowing it, as my wife's car is temporarily incapacitated, and she needed a "good working" car to use for a few days. Yeah...

So, my wife calls me (ya gotta love cell phones - sense my sarcasm?) and says the car won't start. It's 9:30am Sunday morning and she's still sitting in the fu#%ing driveway, as she was trying to make her way to Church on time! Well, this engine cranking but no start has happened to me before, and I'm not sure why. I found that if you turn the key on, wait a few seconds for the car to "wake-up" and go through it's dashboard diagnostic operations check sequence, and then push the accelerator pedal lightly, then the car has always fired right up, no problem. So, that's what I told her to do. Well, the car started up, and she was on her way to Church.

Now, knowing what I know, the symptoms point to the TPS (throttle position sensor) or the IAC (idle air control) motor being bad/sticky/defective. I haven't ruled them out as of yet, only because I believe that this particular problem is not directly related to a later Passlock problem that I'm about to discuss below. Only more time will tell if this "gremlin" will come back or not, after my Passlock fix. I say this, because I've run into a similar problem in the past with a 3.4L V6 engine in a Lumina APV van, and the IAC motor was the culprit for why the car wouldn't start and stay running unless you had your foot on the throttle some.

Anyhow... it's now 11:30am... Wife calls again - car won't start again. Awww, I'm thinking... now, WTF?! I tell her to do what I told her before. She says nope, it doesn't work - already tried. Hmmm... GREAT. Just what I want to do with the rest of my Sunday, is try to fix a damned car with "gremlins"! I go to the Church to find that car will crank over fine, but will not fire/run. I remembered that I had heard something about the whole Passlock problem in the past, but have somehow never had to deal with it until now. (Probably because the newest vehicle that I own doesn't have any of that CRAP on it.) Sorry folks, but newer IS NOT better! But regardless, I'm finally getting my shot at this more modern crap and it's problems!

So, I went home and proceeded to do a lot of research on the net (what a waste of my life), as I couldn't get the S.O.B'ing car to fire and run unless I supplied an alternate fuel supply (in this case, a can of ether was used). I found that the fuel pump wasn't running. So, first thought was that the fuel pump had crapped out. However, I know better than to damn a part before I PROVE that it is no good. (Pumps are way too expensive NOT to check 'em out properly!) But, guess what... it was NOT the fuel pump that had failed, as so many people (repair shops) constantly MIS-diagnose! I found the problem was that no power going to the pump while cranking! The real problem arose when I couldn't figure out why, as everything was checking out (relays, fuses, pump, etc) but for some damned reason, that friggen fuel pump wasn't getting power! (BTW, In case you were wondering, I'm a professional equipment mechanic and former auto tech, who still knows a pretty good amount about cars.) Anyhow, after doing a lot of reading on the internet at various sites... I found that I really need to check out the whole concept of disabling that f'ing Passlock 2 GM security system. So, that's what I did - no worries. So far, it's all good. Ok, I know this has gotten really long, but quit your whinin' and keep reading if you want to fix your car...

Here's my version of "The Fix": The Problem: - "Security" light in the dash cluster is ON and blinking. (Not a good thing - the stupid car thinks it's being stolen, therefore it disables power to the fuel pump and the car will NOT start.) Apparently this Passlock problem can be triggered by your OEM key fob, remote starters, aftermarket alarms, and defective/worn ignition (key) cylinder/switch. Possibly other reasons too, but at this point who cares...

The Quick and Dirty, and most Inexpensive Solution: Ignition key turned to "ON" position for 10-15 minutes (make sure your battery is good, and if not, you'd better stick a battery charger on it and then plan on getting a new one real soon if it can't handle being turned on for that long without loosing too much of a charge). - Passlock system resets itself automatically and car becomes "operational" again. Fuel pump now runs, and car starts up and runs - for now. - OK, now radio is removed and is hanging from dash, still plugged in. Keep it plugged in, or you may end up with radio problems also! (God I hate anti-theft crap.) Car is still running. - Found the YELLOW Passlock WIRE at the ignition switch harness. Snipped it in half, I REPEAT, while CAR IS still RUNNING. This is VERY important. - Butt-spliced in some longer wires to the yellow wire that I just snipped, and installed an in-line toggle switch "hidden" under the dash down by the pedals. Yeah, you will need to drill a little 1/2 hole in the panel, or make your own fancy bracket. - Set toggle switch to "OFF" position, where it will stay unless Passlock ever needs to be enabled for some reason in the future (like a mechanic resetting the system - not realizing that it was disabled on purpose, or a dead battery removed from the car for too long, or...). - Red "Security" light in dash is now on steady, meaning that the Passlock system is disabled. (That little dash light annoyance will get a piece of black electrical tape put over it, cause I have better things to do with my time than take apart the entire dash cluster just for one stupid light bulb.)

Car now starts and runs every time! I do believe our "No start" problem is now solved. Yee-Hawww! Check out Complaint #33, submitted by Tresa M. from Yelm, WA, USA in the posting: "2001 Oldsmobile Alero turns over but won't start".


It gives some great detailed info on how to disable the terrible Passlock 2 (and 1 also, I believe) system.

Wiring diagrams and great colored pictures can be found at: http://www.bulldogsecurity.com/bdnew/vehiclewiringdiagrams.asp Consider my version above, the quick and dirty "Passlock for Dummies" version.

Well, good luck everyone, and peace-out all!


- turbo_diesel, Ontario, NY, US

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