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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
First, specs on my truck:
1999 S-10 LS, 2.2L 4CYL, 2WD

Next, specs on me:
I'm a computer engineer by training and trade, so I'm technically minded. However, I'm not an automotive specialist so I don't know all the ins and outs of automotive troubleshooting and repair. I'm an able-bodied mechanic and can do just about any work that I understand (ie, someone explains it to me) so feel free to explain away and be technical.

Finally, my problem:
I bought the truck in Fall 2003. It ran beautifully until Summer 2004, when the starter died. I had it replaced (with a new one) and it ran beautifully again until recently.

In the past month or so (give or take), I've begun experiencing an issue where sometimes the truck turns over and fires up just fine. However, just as often, the truck has trouble turning over and igniting (so I think). I turn the key and I hear the engine turning, but it doesnt fire up. Usually, if I leave the key engaged and let it do this for a few seconds, it'll fire up. However, in the past week it's gotten to the point where it is sluggish even turning over (like the battery is dying). I pulled the battery and charged it up on an AC charger, but that didn't help. I even went to the store and replaced the battery (making sure to get the proper amps) and that didn't help. When it behaves like this (the dead-battery-esque behavior), if I disengage the key, wait a second, then try again -- it'll usually do the turning over for a few seconds and then fire up thing.

There appears to be no rhyme or reason to how it behaves. This morning, I had to go to the store and it did the dead-battery-type thing. Leaving the store, it was sluggish turning over but fired up. Then, this afternoon on my way to work, it fired up first time like a charm. I've seen the opposite happen too -- fire up just fine in the morning and then get "worse" through the course of the day.

I own one of the Haynes repair manuals and its troubleshooting guide seemed to indicate that it might be slippage in the starter gears. I spoke with a local mechanic and he suggested troubleshooting through the relays, but our local AutoZone does not stock the ones for my truck.

Well, that's about it. If you guys need any extra information, let me know. I'd like to troubleshoot this before comitting to a mechanic for repairs. I likely don't have the tools to really do any major repairs and to make me and my insurance happy, I'll probably take it to a shop for anything major. I'd just like to be fairly confident of what the problem is BEFORE I take it in.

edit note: once the truck fires up, it runs like nothing is wrong at all. i've noticed no drops in gas mileage or performance at all. the problem appears to be totally isolated to initial ignition.
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