GMC Sierra Intermittent Starting Problem [10 Causes and Solutions]

The GMC Sierra is one of the best pickup trucks from General Motors. People love the truck for its reliability and offroad performance. However, like any other vehicle GMC Sierra 1500 has some common issues, including intermittent starting problems.

Intermittent starting problems can appear in any vehicle, mostly old vehicles. I will discuss the intermittent starting problem with the GMC Sierra in this article.

Let’s briefly discuss the causes, symptoms, and solutions to the intermittent problem of GMC Sierra.

Intermittent starting problems in a vehicle mean the vehicle doesn’t start continuously. The vehicle may not start after a certain period of time after stopping. Mainly old vehicles with age and wear have this issue. Sierra users reported that old Sierras show intermittent starting issues. Their truck would not suddenly start but would start again after some time.

Some users took their Sierra to the dealership and found no problems. The problem tends to appear again after a certain period of time. GMC Sierra intermittent starting issues usually appear at 100,000 miles or later.

10 common problems that cause the GMC Sierra intermittent starting problem, including damaged battery, bad battery connectors, a faulty relay, bad ground points, a faulty starter, a bad ignition coil, a bad immobilizer, a faulty fuel injector, fuel filter issues, faulty crankshaft position sensor, etc. Let’s briefly discuss the causes:

1. Damaged Battery

Damaged Battery

The battery is a key component for starting your vehicle. A damaged battery can cause starting problems. It may work sometimes and let you start your car. However, the battery may not let you start your vehicle sometimes, causing intermittent starting problems.

2. Bad Battery Connectors

Battery connectors connect the battery to the vehicle. Vibration can cause the connectors to loosen up. Also, the wire may become damaged, causing connection failure. It may cause the battery to work sometimes and fail sometimes. This may cause your Sierra to start intermittently.

3. Faulty Relay

A faulty relay can cause intermittent starting problems.

Faulty relays may work or not work properly. So, you should check them before checking other components.

4. Bad Ground Points

Faulty ground points can cause intermittent starting problems and other electrical issues. Ground points may become loose or corrode over time. You should regularly check your Sierra’s ground points for intermittent starting issues and other problems.

5. Faulty Starter and Ignition Switch

Faulty Starter

A starter may get faulty by becoming old or by frequent heavy usage. Strange noises may also come from a faulty starter if it’s old. You should check your starter if you are having intermittent starting problems. Most of the time, the main reason for intermittent starting is starter issues.

A faulty ignition switch hampers the operation of the ignition coil. If the switch doesn’t work properly, the ignition will also not work properly. So it may lead to intermittent starting problems.

6. Bad Ignition Coil

Ignition coils supply electricity to the spark plugs to create sparks for ignition. Bad ignition coils may work intermittently, causing intermittent starting problems. The ECM may give an error code for a bad ignition coil.

7. Bad Immobilizer

Immobilizers are used to prevent unauthorized access to the vehicle. Sometimes, the immobilizer may become faulty and not recognize the original key. This will prevent the engine from starting. If the immobilizer malfunctions, it may cause intermittent starting problems.

8. Faulty Fuel Injector

Faulty Fuel Injector

A fuel injector is another essential engine component. The ECM controls the fuel injection, and a faulty fuel injector can cause intermittent starting problems.

9. Fuel Filter Issues and Fuel Pump

The fuel filter filters the fuel from any residuals that enter the engine. Bad fuel filters can also cause intermittent starting problems.

The fuel pump supplies fuel to the engine through fuel injectors. A bad fuel pump may hamper ignition, causing intermittent starting issues.

10. Faulty Crankshaft Position Sensor

The crankshaft position sensor records its position and sends it to the ECM. The ECM then controls the other processes to start the engine. If the crankshaft position sensor doesn’t work properly, it will cause the engine not to start continuously. So, faulty crankshaft position sensors can cause intermittent starting problems.

Symptoms of GMC Sierra Intermittent Starting Problem

Symptoms of a Intermittent Starting Problem

Symptoms of intermittent starting problems are the engine not starting, unusual noise, smoke coming out, low battery voltage, electronic components malfunctioning, low fuel pressure, cranking but no ignition, etc. Let’s briefly discuss them:

1. Engine not Starting

This is one of the main symptoms of intermittent starting problems. The engine will not start even if you use the key or key fob for ignition. Sometimes, the warning “check engine light” appears on the dashboard.

2. Unusual Noise

Another symptom is the clunking, whining, or grinding noise from the engine. If the starter is not working properly, there may be noise.

3. Smoke Coming Out

Overheating of the starter may cause smoke. Sometimes, the fuel injector causes excessive smoke to come out of the exhaust. It is another indication of intermittent starting problems.

4. Low Battery Voltage

The battery is very important for a vehicle to function properly. Low battery voltage is another symptom for which the starter may work intermittently.

5. Electronic Components Malfunctioning

If the problem is with the battery, battery connector, ground points, or relay, it can cause intermittent starting problems. This is one of the most common indications.

6. Low Fuel Pressure

A faulty fuel pump may cause low fuel pressure, causing the engine not to start properly. It is another symptom of intermittent starting problems.

7. Cranking But No Ignition

If the engine is cranking without ignition, it can indicate intermittent starting issues. A faulty starter, fuel pump, spark plug, or ignition coil may cause inconvenience.

Solution to Intermittent Starting Problems

Solution To Intermittent Starting Problems

You can solve the intermittent starting problems in your GMC Sierra by checking a few things:

Battery checking: You should check your battery for voltage and health. A damaged battery should be replaced with a new one, which should solve the problem.

Connector checking: You should check the connector to see if the battery is okay. Loose connectors should be tightened. If the connector cable is damaged or bad, you should replace it, too.

Relay checking: You should check the relay to see if the battery and connectors are okay. Old relays tend to malfunction, and replacing the relay with a new one should solve the issue.

Fuel system checkup: If you find no problem with the battery, battery connection, or relays, you should check the fuel system. Check the fuel pump pressure and fuel injectors for issues. If you find problems with those components, you should replace them with new ones.

Starter checkup: Worn-out starters may also be a problem. You should check the starter for issues. If there is any issue, you should repair or replace the starter, which should fix the intermittent starting problems. A bad starter is the main cause of intermittent starting.

Ignition checkup: You should check the spark plug, ignition coil, and ignition switch for issues. These are very important for ignition. If the ignition components fail, the engine won’t start. You should replace the faulty spark plugs, ignition coil, or switch to solve the intermittent starting problems.

Crankshaft position sensor checkup: A bad crankshaft position sensor may be a reason for intermittent starting problems. So you should change the sensor, as they are very cheap to fix the issue.

If any of the given methods don’t work, you should take your GMC Sierra to a nearby dealership or an experienced mechanic shop to fix the issues.

How to Avoid Intermittent Starting Problems

You can avoid intermittent starting problems in your GMC Sierra by following these 8 tips:

  1. Look out for any unusual symptoms that may lead to problems.
  2. Check your truck’s battery health once a week.
  3. Check the connector cables once a month.
  4. Change the fuel filter every 30,000 miles.
  5. Diagnose the electrical system of the vehicle at regular intervals.
  6. Check the starter and ignition system regularly.
  7. Diagnose the vehicle with an OBD-II scanner if there is any error code.
  8. Check up on the whole vehicle once a year.

These 8 tips are enough to avoid any unnecessary problems with the intermittent operation of your GMC Sierra.


Can you drive with a bad starter?

Yes, you can drive with a bad starter. If you can start the vehicle anyway, there shouldn’t be any problems. But you should not drive for long, as the problem may appear again. So the best course of action would be to solve the issue as soon as possible.

Why is my truck not starting but has power?

The probable cause of your truck not starting but having power is a loose or faulty connection from the battery to the starter. Most of the vehicles run on gas, but they still need a battery to start the engine. You should diagnose the starter connection to solve the issue.

Why does my truck not start randomly?

There can be many reasons for your truck to not start randomly. The probable reasons are a faulty ignition coil, a bad battery connection, faulty ground points, immobilized issues, etc.

Final Words

Intermittent starting problems are not a major issue. The issues can be problematic at inappropriate times and places. You can easily avoid the problems with regular checkups and maintenance.

Also, you should look for any problematic symptoms and solve them immediately. Sometimes, intermittent starting problems can be undetectable and annoying to solve.

The best course of action would be to take your vehicle to an experienced auto mechanic for a diagnosis and solution. I hope now you know what the intermittent starting problems are in your GMC Sierra and how to solve them.

Leave a Comment