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Discussion Starter #1
I have a white 1991 automatic spider. I bought the car at the start of the summer and noticed that although the car usually started right up, it occasionally would not. When I turned the key I'd get no response other than lights turning on in the dash. The starter wouldn't turn over. Car seems totally unresponsive (similar to hot start issues I experienced with my 1991 manual spider with corroded contacts).
However, for some reason, it will start if I put the car in gear and the returned it to park, before turning the key again.
I had the starter replaced but this same issue pops up sporadically.

Any ideas what might cause this?
 

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I don't know the auto trans Spiders specifically but most auto trans cars have an ignition interlock system that prevents cranking if not in neutral or park. Maybe the Spider does too?

And, all Spiders can benefit from a relay for the starter circuit. The internal contacts in the ignition switch are marginal and when old & tired can fail to pass electrons intermittently.
 

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My manual shows two relays in the engine compartment near the intake manifold. One is for the starter and the other is to signal the ECU. There is a switch on the side of the auto transmission that actuates the relays. I'd just reseat the relays to begin with. The next thing I'd check/replace is the switch. The switch also operates the reverse lights.
 

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I would go for Tony's suggestion, I had to do that for mine.

They are easy to get to, just two relays together mounted high on the inside of the fender on the passenger side.

Failing that, is anything interfering with the gear lever and stopping it quite going into neutral or park?
To investigate press the gear shifter button in and give it a good tug to pull off the handle. Then lever off the black plastic surround so that you can see around where the lever pivots. It gets a fair bit of crud down there.
 

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I had the same problem. The switch is on the driver's side of the transmission in a spot that is about impossible to remove without a lot of other stuff being removed. I adjusted the cable between the shifter and the transmission and that cured the problem. Seeing as I wasn't able to find a direct replacement switch anywhere I planned to install micro switches, (with rollers on the ends of the wipers), that will be activated by the shifter lever for park, neutral, and reverse.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone. I appreciate the quick responses.

I am going to take a look at it this weekend. Getting to the starter inhibitor switch seems like a big job so I'll concentrate on locating the relays and cleaning up the lever pivots/adjusting the cable.

Angelo.. I have noticed that when I when I move the shifter from park to drive, there does feel like much resistance in between gears. Although I don't expect to hear a loud click as I pass gears, I would expect more resistance as it goes through each pivot. Since the lights do not work, sometimes I end up putting the car in low drive instead of drive since it easily slides between the two. Hopefully I 'll be able to clean the pivots up.
 

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I had the same problem. The switch is on the driver's side of the transmission in a spot that is about impossible to remove without a lot of other stuff being removed. I adjusted the cable between the shifter and the transmission and that cured the problem. Seeing as I wasn't able to find a direct replacement switch anywhere I planned to install micro switches, (with rollers on the ends of the wipers), that will be activated by the shifter lever for park, neutral, and reverse.
If you can't get the switch or don't want to play with the switch just jumper the interlock (ground terminal 85 on either relay). Our grandfathers could start a car without an interlock so why can't we. That said if the transmission can't be shifted to neutral it could get very exciting.
 

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Lucas, the bulb for the light is accessible when you open up the panel, in the black plastic holder attached to the shifter.
Its a 1.2v bulb like the instrument panel. You can get 2v in the same size which would be worth fitting as the light is not very bright as standard.
 
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