88 Toyota Camry wagon - starting problem

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Old 08-23-11, 06:05 AM
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88 Toyota Camry wagon - starting problem

I have a 1988 Toyota Camry wagon, 2.0, auto, 330+k miles. Often, when I turn the key all I get is a 'click'. If I keep trying and turn the key back and forth quickly eventually the starter will engage and off I go. Once in a while no matter how long I turn the key the car will not start. But if I try again in a few hours/days the car will start right up. I've noticed that often (but not always) this non-starting will happen right after I've driven the car - but again the car will start up if I try hours/days later. I understand the general sequence of fixing this, relays, battery, starter...., but I used to have a 1987 Toyota Celica, 2.0 auto WITH THE EXACT SAME PROBLEM - so I think this is a Toyota thing. If it is a Toyota thing, then there has to be some Toyota expert out there who will know what is the problem/solution. Well, any experts? Thanks!
 
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Old 08-23-11, 07:32 AM
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For sure the one thing that is what you call a 'Toyota thing' is that you have a car that is 23 years old, has 330K miles and is still running and driving with only an annoying problem. As you said, you understand the basics of a starter system, but you also haven't told us what you have so far checked, cleaned etc. already. Worn ignition switch, weak and corroded cables and grounds to battery and starter and their connections, worn out magnetic starter switch, bad starter motor, the list of possibilities is there regardless of make. If the vehicle was fairly new, then specific common product issue failures would make sense to understand, but with a 23 year old vehicle, and that mileage the best approach is a diagnostic one, going through the system as it fails step by step. That's my opinion anyway.
 
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Old 08-23-11, 08:05 AM
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equinox is dead right. 330 000 miles and running - good for Toyota. Keep in mind, you have the good one. They don't make them as well as they used now. Art was lost somewhere in late 90s. Same goes for Hondas.

equinox is dead right also again. If it clicks - everything down to the starter Bendix works, but Bendix does not engage. Bendix as in solenoid for starter. BTW, correct term to use is - car/engine won't turn. Not won't start. Clearly, it starts if it turns. Hence, you most likely have corroded negative or 12V somewhere on starter, or battery, as it takes good battery kick to move that solenoid. As a cheap measure, clean battery terminals first. See my last post today in "timing belt grief" thread here.
 
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Old 08-23-11, 11:11 AM
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How long has it been since the starter was replaced?
 
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Old 08-23-11, 06:53 PM
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From what I've read on these forums, there are contacts in the solenoid that get worn, and that is what causes the problem. With Toy starters they are relatively easy to replace. I'm sure that towguy will comment on this, because I believe he has a few or has had a few Toys
 
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Old 09-15-11, 06:59 AM
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Update - I replaced the battery (it was old) and cleaned all the external connections and that did not help. I then replaced the starter (I had a discount coupon so it was cheap) and that didn't help. There are three identical relays in the car so I swapped them to see if the relay was bad - that did not help. Again, all I get is a clicking sound when the car won't start - but it starts about 1/2 of the time. Any further suggestions? Also, I now just put the key in the run position and run a wire from the battery to solenoid and "hot wire" my car - this works every time. (it is easy with the starter right in front) Again, any suggestions? Also, will this hot wiring hurt the solenoid?

One unrelated question - the car had a terrible exhaust leak and I replaced the rusted out exhaust pipe and now the car runs a whole lot better. Why would fixing the exhaust make the car run better? Thanks!
 
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Old 09-15-11, 07:58 AM
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It could still be a worn ignition switch? I think that was on my earlier post also.
 
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Old 09-15-11, 09:24 AM
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click is coming from starter, right? or from dashboard? or from place else, like a relay in relay box? if it's coming from starter, Bendix wants to engage, but does not have enough power to do so. You jump start Bendix, and it all works good.
somewhere between the key station and starter Bendix, something is not allowing full power supply to Bendix. You have proof to this jump starting the engine. I can tell that on Hondas of that age, main culprit is main relay, positioned in the dashboard, ahead of driver left knee. It is also temperature sensitive, as it is filled with some goo and it's temperamental.
Now, you will say - that's Honda, I have Toyota. My response will be - yes, but they all have tendency to be similar in engineering principles.
88 1988 Toyota Camry Main Relay - Body Electrical - Standard Motor Products - PartsGeek

looks awfully like one I had in my 91 Civic. Main relay on Civic controls fuel pump, ignition, and starter. with 3 distinctive clicks coming out of it for every device.

also, what happens if you jump start via battery terminals?
 
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