Toyota starter problems.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1988 Toyota Supra with 85,000 miles with a problem my dealer can't
solve. When I take the car out for the first time each day (only) and drive
only a short distance (two or three miles) and then stop at the store, I am
unable to start the car again without waiting at least 15 minutes (and
sometimes as long as 30). All I hear is a click when I turn the key.
I am really a novice at these things, so I believe my suggestions to the
Toyota dealer (i.e., some sort of vapor lock or a relay) were likely way
off base. The battery and cables were replaced, and no other problems could
be found. Lately, I've resorted to leaving the car running at gas stations,
school, etc., so I won't experience this problem. The seven-mile trip to
work is long enough to eliminate the problem, but the short trips are a
nightmare. Please help me! I'm sitting here outside the convenience store,
waiting for my car to start while I write to you! -- Robert

TOM: I've often wondered what happened to the grand old art of letter-
writing. Now I know. People used to write letters while they were waiting
for their cars to start. Nobody writes anymore because cars have gotten too
danged reliable! I'm going to have to write an article on this for Reader's

RAY: Actually, Robert, we don't have a great deal of experience with this
problem on Supras, but we have seen it a million times on other Toyotas.
The problem is the starter.

TOM: It's unusual that it only happens when the car is half-warm, and not
when it's hot. But we've seen enough Toyota starters go bad to stick with
our "starter" guess.

RAY: But don't take our word for it. Ask your dealer to drive it like you
do, so he can experience the no-start condition. And when he does, he can
use his test light to see if the starter is getting energized when he turns
the key. That would confirm that electricity is getting to the starter
solenoid, and that the starter isn't working.

TOM: If he's not willing to put the time into driving it and re-creating
the problem conditions for you, here's what you do: Make an appointment,
and park the car two to three miles from the dealership the night before.

RAY: You may even want to sleep in the car overnight, just to enhance the

TOM: Then drive to the dealership, pull into the garage entrance, where
you're sure to block anyone else from getting in or out, and shut off the

RAY: And when someone comes over and asks you to move the car, you turn the
key and shrug and say "Gee, it won't start. I think it's the starter. Grab
your test light, will ya?"

TOM: If we're wrong and there IS no power getting to the starter solenoid,
then you may have a problem in the ignition switch, the clutch interlock or
Neutral safety switch. But I'd put money on a faulty starter, Robert. Good

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