Renault Clio - temperamental start up

7 Sep 2009
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United Kingdom
Make - Renault
Model - Clio
Engine size/Type - 1.2L petrol
Year - 2001
Mileage - 50k

Hi all,

I'm having problems starting my car. Sometimes it starts first time, no problem at all. Other times it can take 7 or 8 tries before it will fire up.

I put the key in, turn it so the electrics come on, cd player starts, all warning lights go off. Then it turn it further to fire the engine up but it just makes the stuttering noise (sounds a bit like machine gun fire!) like it is trying to start but wont quite start up. I can turn the electrics off, take the key out, wait, put it back in and try again and still wont start. I can try it several times and eventually it starts.

However.. if the car doesn't start after the first attempt, the dashboard then shows up the red 'low oil' indicator. But i know the oil isn't low, because i only topped it up recently and checked the dipstick and the level is fine.

Does anyone have any ideas what it may be? As I am a complete car maintenance ****** and fear garages ripping me off.


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Just my opinion but I think this sounds like a starter motor fault - or more precisely the solenoid that throws the starter gear into mesh with the flywheel ring gear. The solenoid does 2 things 1) it throws the starter gear along the starter shaft to engage with the flywheel 2) at the same time it supplies the starter motor with a heavy current to allow it to spin and start the engine. I suspect that the solenoid internal contacts are worn, and the solenoid is making then breaking contact, and the noise is the starter gear trying to engage with the flywheel ring gear. The fact that the car occasionally starts is coincidental I guess - likewise the low oil level indicator lamp which you can ignore. Its worthwhile going over all of the electrical connections though before removing the starter for professional testing. Cheers John
Hi, just a thought but you might want to check the earthes from the battery to the engine and body. The one going to the engine may be breaking and not letting the full current to flow to the starter and thats when you get the flat battery syptom. Hope this helps.
Thanks for the replies, I will try to check those things. I also noticed that the car is more likely to start if i leave about a 10 second gap between turning the electrics on and attempting to start the engine. Dont know if that makes any difference?
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Hi Tony,

I have the exact same problem...
03 plate Clio 1.2 Expression. Always starts first time but after a run will refuse to start. I have also noticed turning the key part way and pausing a short while before firing the egnition works!
Scouring forums have also read that AA say it's a common problem and that it is possibly corrosion on the solonoid contacts (or something to that effect).
I am also a car mantenance ****** with a fear of garage ripping off'ness!!!

TDC sensors are very common to fail on these cars, and give intermittent starting probs when they are on their way out. Get it plugged in if you can and check fault codes.