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Discussion Starter #1
Hello AlfaBB!

For the two years I’ve had my Spider, she has had intermittent issue starting problems. For some reason, the car will refuse to crank on occasion. A few minutes later, the car will more often than not start without a problem.

The Spider is a '69 with the original 1750 engine.

Here is how it goes; I turn the key and it stops at the second position...there is no way to push the key further. At this point the steering wheel is definitely unlocked and I can hear the fuel pump running, and it will continue to run as long as the key remains at position two. Of course, the engine doesn’t crank at this point.

After replacing the key to the first position and removing it—then repeating the starting sequence, taking care to free the wheel if it is locked--the car will often crank just fine and start up as if nothing were amiss. However, there have been a few times the problem persisted for several hours at a time.

It can't be the wheel lock mechanism, as the wheel unlocks at the first position every time I start the car. Possibly the fuel pump is misbehaving, as I don't think it is supposed to run indefinitely when the engine has not yet cranked. That leaves the ignition tumbler, which I sincerely hope isn't at fault, since a new one would be unobtainable. What could I have overlooked?

Due to this starting issue, the few times that I've managed to stall were very unpleasant, one was quite dangerous. I know it sounds pathetic, but this starting quirkiness had let to me avoiding hills—if I were to stall the situation could be (and has been) a big headache, not to mention a traffic hazard.

Any help from the brilliant minds on this forum would be immensely appreciated. I love my baby Alfa and she drives very well. This problem really needs to be sorted as I need to start driving her more.

Thank you and have a very happy New Year!
 

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The current that is pulled by the starter solenoid is quite high for the ignition switch and older ones can eventually get pitted or burned contacts and then they start to act up and that may be your problem. If that is the case then you have three options:
1 replace the ignition switch
2 install a relay between the ignition switch and the starter. This will take the load off the ignition switch and it may then work reliably
3 Do both #1 and #2. This will most likely eliminate this problem for the life of your car.

I think that the fuel pump will run whenever the ignition is turned on with your car. The safety interlocks that shut down the pump when the engine stops were introduced around 1982.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Ed! That seems like a reasonable (and likely) explanation of the starting issue. I'll try replacing the ignition switch first off and if that works I'll look into the relay.

Your response leaves me with one lingering question--how is it that the ignition tumbler forces the key to stop at position two? I would think the key could continue on to pos. 3/engine start...just without cranking the engine. Is there some kind of built-in wiring that prevents the key from turning all the way when the starter solenoid isn't receiving power? It just seems odd to me.

Thanks again for the help!
 

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Ed's advice is excellent. However if the switch is the problem, I happen to have a very limited number of original NOS Sipea ignition switches. These plastic switches can easily be replaced in your metal key tumbler. Please PM me if you are interested. Cheers, James
 

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I turn the key and it stops at the second position...there is no way to push the key further. ...Of course, the engine doesn’t crank at this point.
After replacing the key to the first position and removing it—--the car will often crank just fine and start up as if nothing were amiss.
The ignition switch has an automatic 'one time use lockout' feature that requires the key to be turned off before the switch will allow the key to again reach position 3 (starter engagement). This feature is to prevent starter engagement while the engine is running.
It sounds like the auto lockout feature in your switch is not functioning as intended. Since this feature is part of the mechanical/tumbler portion of the switch, a new switch, with key, may be required.
 

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can the auto lockout be disabled? thanx, chris
 
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