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Thread: Click-No-Start (Starter, Ignition Switch and other Culprits)

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    Click-No-Start (Starter, Ignition Switch and other Culprits)

    Hi all,

    Well, the van crapped out on me a few days ago with the dreaded "Click" sound. I pulled the starter and examined the copper contacts of the solenoid and they were surprisingly unworn! Had it bench tested and it was fine. I reviewed all the write ups from TVP on identifying the weak link in the system. When I turn the ignition to start, I get the click of the solenoid, but I also get a buzzing sound from somewhere near the fuse box. Could there be a relay or breaker involved in the starting process that hasn't been discussed that could cause this buzz?

    I also priced an ignition switch at Auto Zone for $41.99. Is that a fair price?

    Thanks all,

    Gary

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    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    Have you checked the battery voltage and made sure the terminals are clean, tight, and corrosion free? What is the age and condition of the battery?

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    I should have mentioned this in the opening post. The battery voltage reads 12.5V and everything is clean and tight. It's that buzzing noise when I turn the ignition that is really throwing me for a loop!

    Gary

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    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    Does it buzz with the ignition turned to the "on" position or only when you have it in the "start" position?

    If it does that when in the "start" position, it could be a normal response from the circuit opening relay due to low voltage (low voltage could simply be a symptom of a larger problem). Double check all the connections of your big battery cables and inspect your FL 1.25B fusible link.

    If you have a helper, have him/her try to crank it while you're checking the battery voltage. If the battery is fully charged, but drops to below 10v while they are trying to crank, then the battery is bad. Tim

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    You're correct Tim, it sounds off only when I go to start. The battery's 2 mos old and the starter is just fine. I'll follow your write up and trace the little wire backwards until I find the culprit. Thanks.

    Gary

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    A little over a week ago, I was driving for about 25 minutes around town, stop and go, I parked for about 40 minutes, came out and the van wouldn't start. The sound was the same. Just a couple of clicks but the starter did not engage. I tried it 3 to 4 times. I checked the battery to see if anything seemed strange, it looked fine. Shook the terminal wires to see if anything was loose and nothing was. I looked at the motor to see if anything looked super strange, it looked normal. I tried it again and on about the 6th attempt (about the 10th total) it started right up. Concerned, I drove home and found this post and went and checked the FL 1.25 fusible link and it looks fine. My battery read 12.6V and dropped to about 10.9V when it turned over... The problem is that it has started on the first crank ever since I got home that night and I do not know what to check. To what write up and small wire do you refer?

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    The write-up Gary refers to is The Fusible Link Thread, which discusses the "small wire" and if you go to this thread, you'll find out the rest of Gary's story (I think I need to merge these two threads ).

    A drop to 10.9 volts ain't great, but it is (as you now know) workable.

    I'd be suspicious of the starter contacts, personally — "click-click" is usually the starter talking (can be the contacts or poor connections); "gruh-ruh" is a weeny battery (because the starter is working, so the engine does begin to turn over). The sound of nothing at all is bad battery connections or, for 2nd generation vans, an issue with the clutch neutral start switch ... and I suppose for any van with an A/T that's not in park, but I'm no good at A/T stuff so don't take my word for that ... and I don't know what sounds expired ignition switches make, but I'd expect that's a big nothing, too.

    The one time I had a van's starter fail, the van occasionally did the "click-click" thing and then worked just dandy for awhile, repeat, repeat with the "click-click" no-starts closer together, until it was totally dead and I had to get a pull-start from a rancher out in Fort Rock (go ahead, check that one on the map!). I seem to recall it took a month or more to fully kick the bucket. Back then I was ignorant; now I would plan to replace or rebuild the starter within a week or so and I wouldn't get myself stuck out in the boonies.

    Gwen
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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    Thank you for the reply. I looked at the fusible link thread and realized that I am pretty familiar with that small wire, we have met before. Christmas dash lights issue when I got the van.

    I don't think that I adequately described the clicking sound when I turned the key. When i turned the key, all the usual dash lights came on, and when I turned it further to start there was a single click, that I was not sure of the origin, and then an almost electrical buzz in the dash above the radio, but I did not hear the starter turning or attempting to turn at all. Maybe the single click was starter, but it sounded more like the click came from inside the van.

    The van came with no repair records so I have no idea of the age of the battery. What is a reasonable range for the voltage to read before and while starting the van?

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    I had the starting problem for a year and a half before I finally had a bypass starter switch installed.
    2 new starters, new ignition switch, new neutral safety switch, several electrical trouble shooting campaigns, new battery cables, rebuilt starter with new copper contacts & new plunger, fusible link checked and tested ok, new big-ass battery, etc. But in the end the starter bypass switch was the only solution.

    Check this thread on TVP which explains the story:

    http://www.toyotavanpeople.com/forum...p=58927#p58927
    Last edited by trestlehed; 11-27-2010 at 04:12 PM. Reason: .
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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    You would hear starter clicks from the starter area (under the passenger seat), so that changes things. Additionally, IME, starter clicks come in groups, usually pairs.

    The main relay for the ignition is on the upper left corner of the fuse block; that could be the single click you heard. If so, "click" is good; that means adequate electricity got to it and it functions.

    The buzz is probably from the Circuit Opening Relay, part of the EFI system (it's the only relay in that location — in the dash above the radio — or anywhere near it that would be active when you go to start the van). Why it's buzzing, whether that's good or bad, what the thing actually does, and what to do next are totally outta my league at this time. Hopefully Tim or someone else can take off with it from here.

    Gwen
    1985 5-speed window cargo van set up for llama haulin'; 345K ("Trustyvan")
    1989 4WD 5-speed DLX; 410K and an odd sense of humor ("Skylervan")

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I had a busy weekend with family due to the Thanksgiving holiday. There are several possibilities here, but before doing anything, inspect your battery cables and terminal ends to make sure they are clean and tight. If you find anything wrong or even questionable in this area, fix it 1st because you'll feel like an idiot if you spend time and money on this problem only to find out it was a loose or corroded battery terminal . The next thing to do is have your battery evaluated. If the battery is old (over 5 years) and/or looks bad, then it might be a good idea to just replace anyhow. 10.9 volts while cranking is actually pretty good, so in your case I would probably move on to the next step. Like Llamavan pointed out, having worn starter contacts is by far the most common cause of intermittent starter activation.

    The starter and solenoid are included in one assembly. The starter is constantly supplied with 12v directly from the battery via the large cable. In order for the starter to engage, it needs 12vdc delivered to it via the small trigger wire. Troubleshooting this circuit can be easy IF (and that's a big IF) the problem can be readily duplicated. Of course this problem is usually intermittent, and this makes troubleshooting aggravating (because chances are it won't act up when you want it to). If by chance you can make it act up for testing, then you've got it made. Using a volt meter check for power at the small starter wire while somebody tries to crank. Warning: make sure van is in park with emergency brake set. Ramps are good, but if you are using jacks, make sure the van is secure on jack stands before climbing under! If there is 10vdc or more at this point when somebody is trying to crank but you only get a click, then the problem is in the starter and the next step is to remove the starter. If however there is less than 10vdc your problem is in the starter circuit and you can skip the part of removing the starter.

    For the sake of this post, I'm going to assume you won't be able to duplicate the problem for testing and we'll move right along to the "inspect and repair" part.

    What causes the typical Toyota starter problem is uneven contact wear. Due to the polarity of DC current, most of the wear occurs on only one contact (the battery cable side) while the other (starter motor side) remains mostly untouched. When one contact becomes smaller than the other, electrical contact becomes intermittent and may or may not make a complete electrical connection (with the solenoid disc) when you try to start. When this happens (usually at or around 100k miles) you will hear a click at the starter, but little else. Multiple attempts to start will usually get the job done, but after a while, even that trick stops working. At that point, some owners will resort to banging the starter with a hammer, rock, or anything else they can find while another person tries to crank . Yes, that actually works, but considering all that hassle, I say fix the damn thing and be done with it . I'm not saying this is your problem, but if your van has over 100k miles, and you don't know the history on the starter, then this is a good place to start.

    Getting the starter off is pretty easy so I'm not going to get into great detail on that. If you have basic tools and basic mechanical skills then you will figure it out. The one thing I will say regarding starter removal is: DISCONNECT THE BATTERY 1ST!!! Because it's no fun to perform accidental welding with battery cables .

    Once you get the starter out and on the bench, remove the 3 screws on the solenoid housing and remove the cover. Here is what you will see inside:



    It's the contact on the top that wears out. Here is what a problem one looks like:


    Toyota sells a kit for about $10 - $15 that will fix the worn contact problem. It's Toyota part #28226-72010. It comes with one contact, a post, a nut, an o-ring, and the plastic insulator piece.


    You should get the Toyota kit if your stud or or any of the other included parts are messed up, but typically all you really need is the contact. I found a guy on eBay that sells just the contacts for about $4 each. The advertised shipping is a little high, but if you select 1st class mail when you pay the shipping is actually quite reasonable. Since this is a common failure on the Toyota starters, I always keep a few of these around. Here is a picture of the eBay contacts:


    Here is a link to an auction: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nippondenso-...d#ht_780wt_905

    If this listing is gone or sold out, just do a search for "Denso starter contacts" and you should get several hits. There is another Denso contact that looks the same as ours, but won't fit correctly, so just be sure to get the one with the 8mm hole (the ones that won't fit correctly have 10mm holes).

    Due to price, it might make more sense to replace both contacts & the plunger. http://www.ebay.com/itm/STARTER-REPA...xVgbL5&vxp=mtr (picture below)



    FYI, I haven't purchased one of these sets yet, so I cannot attest to quality/longevity, but if you're old plunger is scored and/or has an irregular surface, then I'd have to say the cheap set is better than your old parts. If you search eBay for this, I'm sure you will be able to find a higher quality set if you're willing to spend more $$$. If the eBay link above is expired, Here's a link to a similar kit on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Solenoid-Rebui...ger+toyota+van

    If you don't want to wait for shipping, some Toyota dealers and most auto electric shops will sell just the contacts without the hardware. Some shops have them but don't want to waste their time selling these small individual parts. If they have them and the guy working the counter is friendly, it's likely he will sell to you for about $5 each. Some guys will just give you one for a smile . If you get them that way you'll probably need to bring an old one in for correct match-up.

    Okay, so if you do all this and there's still a problem....... That sucks! but it's an old vehicle so consider it as routine maintenance . Chances are it was getting close anyhow and the last thing you need is multiple problems to troubleshoot at the same time.

    If the problem ends up being in the starter circuit, the good news it's a pretty basic circuit and only a few things can go wrong. I marked up the electrical schematic below with red so you can see the path of the small starter wire circuit. I also took some pics and marked the potential problem spots with the purple arrows. If you look at the schematic, you will see it starts at the battery and ends up at the starter. I doubt you have a problem with the 1st 2 fusible links shown because problems here would create other more serious problems elsewhere.



    The 1st potential problem area after the battery would be the spot marked 60A FL AM1. What they are referring to is the yellow fuseible link in the fuse box behind your power steering reservoir pictured here. I doubt this is your problem (for the same reasons I doubt it would be the other 2 fusible links), but you should at least take a quick look to make sure there are no burn marks or corrosion.



    The next stop on the way to the starter is your ignition switch. On an old van, this could likely be your problem. To give you an idea what it looks like, here is a picture of some used ones removed from the steering column:



    Loose, corroded, or burned pins inside this connection are a potential problem so pull this plug and inspect inside. Pay particular attention to the white/green wire in the #4 position (comes from the AM1 Fusible link). The black/white wire in the #1 position is also an important one to scrutinize as it goes from the ignition switch to the neutral start switch. FWIW, the contacts inside the switch are much more likely than the connector to be the problem. Here is a picture to show you it's position in the van:



    If by chance you're able to duplicate the problem for testing, now would be a good time to test the ignition switch. For testing, take the black lead of your meter and ground it to the chassis. Now touch the red lead to the solder joint on the back of the switch (the one that corresponds to the white/green harness wire). Note: when identifying wires, don't trust color coding on the component (as these may vary). Use the harness side to identify your circuit. In cases where harness color varies from component color you'll need to make a note of that when identifying the correct solder joint.

    With your meter in place, try to crank the van and record voltage. Now touch the red meter lead to the solder joint that corresponds with the black/white harness wire. Try to start again and record voltage. When compared the 2 voltage readings should be no more than 1vdc apart (preferably less than .5v). If there is an excessive volt drop here then congratulations! You just diagnosed a bad ignition switch! If it tested good then it's time to move on to the neutral start switch.


    Here are some used & homeless neutral start switches:



    Here is one in it's natural habitat (PS transmission under the van):



    Okay, so the neutral safety switch could be the problem here, but so could the connection point for it. The next picture shows the position of the 2 harness plugs on your van. Disconnect and inspect inside these 2 plugs for burns or corrosion. (note: this is accessible through your power steering reservoir access panel)



    If these look good & assuming you're able to duplicate the problem for testing, hook these back up and test here for voltage drops during cranking (you'll probably need a helper for this one). Same rule applies on voltage drops.


    Okay, the next connection in route to the starter is right between the oil filter and the fuel filter. Check this one too:



    And of course, the final connection here could also be the culprit.



    All of the above things need to be in good working order. If any one or more of the above items has a bad or questionable connection, then it should be addressed. If your inspection reveals nothing, but you still occasionally have the problem (assuming you cannot duplicate the problem for testing), the next step is to start replacing parts. If you get to this stage, I would begin with the ignition switch. If that doesn't help move on to the neutral start switch.

    If by chance you're lucky enough to be able to duplicate problem for testing, check voltage at the starter while a helper tries to crank. You should check voltage to both main starter cable and trigger wire. If you see less than 10vdc any time during testing you should go back to the battery and verify it has more than 12vdc. If you are seeing low voltage in the circuit & the battery is over 12vdc, then back-track to battery checking various points along the way. Once you have found the place the voltage drops, you have found the problem.

    Also, as mentioned earlier, I can't stress enough the importance of checking the big battery cables on both ends.........this includes the chassis ground connection and the big post on the starter. Make sure all connections are clean and tight. Good luck. Tim

    PS: If your van has a 5 speed transmission, you won't have a neutral safety switch, but don't forget to check the clutch start relay and the clutch start switch.

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    Thank you Tim,

    I will follow your directions and investigate the van today, the temperature has reached the 30s.

    When I wired in the previously bypassed 2.0A, 1.25B and the FL 0.5G yellow fusible links, I used the wrong size connection ring to positive terminal for the yellow link. I am going to change that today.

    Also the day after I got the van, I had a muffler and catalytic converter installed. I was able to walk under it. I noticed a blue wire dangling from right behind the engine on the passenger side. There were other issues, leaking power steering fluid and the lit up dash lights, so I didn't think much of it.

    When I changed the fluids in the differentials and transfer case, I was not able to loosen any of the check/fill 21mm bolts so I had to go to a Toyota shop and ask them to remove them and replace them with new bolts that I could remove. I have since acquired a breaker bar. Anyway when the van was in the air, I asked the service technician about the dangling blue wire, he pulled out about a 5-8 foot length of wire that was attached to the starter but nothing else. He gave it a yank and it was no longer attached to the starter. He just shrugged and said he had no idea what it was for. I thought it was worth mentioning.

    The technician and sales rep both seemed more interested in the aftermarket cruise control system that someone had installed at some point but does not currently work.

    I am not sure if the wrong connector to positive terminal for yellow fusible link (does not appear to be involved by wiring schematic), the mystery blue wire previously connected to starter, or aftermarket cruise control may be the problem either, I just thought you should know all that I know.

    Again, thank you for your help and I will report back.

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    If I had to guess, I would say the previous owner had the same trouble with intermittent starts, so he bypassed the circuit with that blue wire??? Perhaps he had the other end of it hooked to a momentary switch some place up on the dash?

    A bypass circuit is easy to hook up and would solve the problem IF the problem is in the circuit (not the starter). I don't recommend that though because it would also bypass safety measures built into the van. Good luck. Tim

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    I started at the battery posts and disconnected the battery at the negative post. The negative connection is clean and fine. The positive post has a mounting plate on a thin plastic base that secures to the positive battery post. The plate has two places that 5, in total, wires are connected to the positive terminal. The mounting plate has a 10 mm nut and bolt, moves horizontally, that secures the clamp to the positive post and connects the 4 small wires that lead to the fusible links and alternator. On the other side of the mounting plate there is a 12 mm bolt that moves vertically up and down that secures the beefy wire connected with a crimped on brass fitting. I assume that this beefy wire goes to the starter?. On my positive post clamp between the 12mm bolt and the sleeve that goes over the positive post the brass mounting plate has what looks like a cut in it. The brass mounting plate is around 3/4" wide and 1/16" thick only about half of it is conducting electricity.

    I took it to the Toyota dealer and they said that the part is not made any more. I went to look at one of two vans that I have seen in yards and the positive clamp was gone. Is there a more modern connector that I could replace this with?/or would it be better to keep searching at salvage yards for a used one?



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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    I wouldn't waste my time in a salvage yard for a part like this. Due to corrosion these have a limited life span. The one in your picture is not a stock Toyota terminal (it looks more like the light duty WalMart variety). I believe the stock Toyota ones are still available (Toyota part #90982-05030) because I got one recently. I get the Toyota ones just because I'm a stickler for details. Toyota is expensive though (about $10 - $15 depending on the dealer), so unless you really want it to be Toyota, I'd save your money and get one of the heavy duty WalMart jobs. Here's a picture of their marine grade terminal:


    Of course you don't need to go to WalMart, this is a common problem on all cars (or anything that uses a car size battery), so they are available almost everywhere. Just make sure the eye terminals on all the wires and cables look clean and shiny before hooking them up. Also, since our battery covers are made of metal, I'd probably get rid of the wing nut and use a regular nut (because it will be easier to tighten down and it won't stick up as high). Tim

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    Having this frustrating issue right now. I'm getting clicks from the starter but hitting it with a hammer does no good. Eventually after several attempts it finally engages and turns. Sometimes I also get a 2 second delay when I turn the key to the start positon before it starts turning. Does this mean I could have a problem in the starter and a possible bad ignition switch? I had a bad starter about two years where I would hit it with a hammer and it would fire right up. The starter I have now is about two years old.

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    I had a "new" (actually a rebuilt by Bosch) starter that was doing the same thing. I pulled it off and inspected the contacts inside (found them to be perfect)..........yet it still behaved like this. I ended up taking a stock Toyota starter with about 175k miles on it, put new contacts into it, and it worked flawlessly (I tossed the pretty new Bosch into my core pile).

    The problem with rebuilt starters is they are now all over 20 years old. Most are still okay but there is going to be a higher incident of problems/defects as the core components are aging. In addition to this, the new components installed by most rebuilders are cheap aftermarket substitutes for the higher quality original parts. I'm not saying this is your problem, I'm just suggesting it as a possibility.

    To rule this out, make sure your battery is good and fully charged, then rig up a voltmeter to your small solenoid wire (at the starter) and have somebody try to crank. If you see above 10.5 volts and it's not cranking, then the problem is in your starter. If the voltage is below that, then the problem is somewhere in the starter circuit. If the problem is in your starter, pop the solenoid cover off and inspect the contacts before condemning the entire starter. Tim

    PS: Also check to make sure all the wires at the starter and the battery are clean and tight.

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    I too have had this mysterious intermittent no start as described, after replacing several things (battery, starter, fusible links..) it would go away for awhile but always come back.
    It only ever occurred when it was hot (min 45 mins runtime) shut off for a short time (less than an hour) and was VERY intermittent in nature.
    It finally became more consistent and while poking around one day, I found the wiring to the POS remote terminal (under the drivers seat) to be routed poorly, and was actually an interference fit between the manifold and the harness, on taking it apart to reroute it, the ring terminal came off in me hand. There was also corrosion evident at the crimp.
    Once corrected, no further problems have occurred and it has been over 3 months and 10K since.
    Might be worth checking.

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    I had this exact problem for well over a year...even after replacing the starter, neutral safety switch, fusible links, etc... I finally got my problem fixed just a couple of weeks ago. The problem...some prior hack had not properly wired the ignition to the proper current source. I had to simply change the power source connection for the ignition wiring. Look at your ignition wiring under the steering column. If it looks like someone had f@$&*ed with it, chances are that's your problem. Be sure by using a current tester while trying to turn the ignition. Basically, right now your starter is not always getting the proper current to crank the engine. Check your ignition wiring for improper connections.

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    Re: Ignition switch question.

    Quote Originally Posted by timsrv View Post
    A bypass circuit is easy to hook up and would solve the problem IF the problem is in the circuit (not the starter). I don't recommend that though because it would also bypass safety measures built into the van. Good luck. Tim



    Tim I might need to know exactly how you would do that. I have my own ideas but I tend to like confirmation. My vans click click problem has gotten worse over the past month. So bad that it hasn't started in three days now. I've gone over everything mentioned in every thread I could find and everthing looks good. The only thing I haven't done is replace the neutral safety switch. I priced one and it is about 250. It's over the amount I'm willing to pay at this time. I understand your concerns with safety and usually value them. In this instance though I'd prefer to take the cheap road. If the bypass works and restores faith in the toaster then I'll get one down the line. If it doesn't send a flat bed to Cali and you can HAVE an 89 Cargo van. lol

    As always thanks in advance for the help.

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