Join the Car Talk Community!

Discussion Rules

Welcome to the Car Talk Community!

Want to ask a question or join the discussion? Great! Join now.

Sign In Register

1986 Toyota Pickup: Starter problems?

Hi, All -- I've got a 1986 Toyota pickup truck that won't start. The battery is fine because the radio (etc.) work when the key is turned. But when I try to start, nothing -- no clicking, no turning over, nothing. What could the problem be? Is it something I can fox myself? If it matters, it is a manual transmission.


  • edited August 2008
    There are a lot of possibilities or combinations of possibilities. The battery is not yet ruled out. It may be able to power a radio, a single AAA battery can power a radio, but powering a starter, even getting it to click, is a different animal altogether.

    You could start by removing the battery and taking it to a auto parts store to have it checked. If removing the battery is beyond your comfort level, then I don't think you are going to do this yourself. If you are OK with that have it checked and clean off both ends of each battery cable and the places they connect to.

    If that does not turn up anything, then the next things on my book would be the safety switch (likely makes sure the clutch is depressed before allowing the starter to engage. I don't know if your 86 has that lock out however. Also the ignition switch may be bad.
  • edited August 2008
    Thanks for the response. Can I just check the battery myself with a multimeter?

    Also, where is the safety switch? This truck does require that the clutch be all the way on the floor prior to starting.
  • edited August 2008
    Can I just check the battery myself with a multimeter?


    A car/truck starter will draw 300-600amps OR MORE of power from the battery when it's trying to start. Running a radio or turning on the lights MIGHT draw 10 amps. So it's a very good possibility it's still the starter.

    Try jumping the truck with jumper cables or putting the battery on a charger.

    The battery may also be fine..but the alternator isn't working properly.
  • edited August 2008
    I had a similar problem with my ES300, same symptomes, turned out the problem was with the starter solenoid, easy and cheap to fix. There are two contacts and a disk/rod assembley in the solenoid that wear out over the years. Replacement contacts were $15 at the dealer, fixed the problem for 2 years, then had to replace both the contacts and the disk/rod. You can google "toyota starter rebuild".

    Here's a link showing the parts:
  • edited August 2008
    I'll try to give it a jump tonight when I am home and then I guess we'll go from there....
  • edited August 2008
    texases says what I would say, and adds a helpful link. The contacts and disc/rod (AKA plunger) are a common problem. My 79 Toyota and 99 Plymouth had this problem - both with the same brand of starter. Filing clean the contacts and plunger disc took care of it on both.
This discussion has been closed.