I have a 1988 Toyota (4 cylinder) Pickup truck, with a very intermittent starting problem, that is driving me crazy. It has had the starting problem for over a year now. Normally is starts easily, within one second with the starter motor, no gas needed, and it starts smoothly.
When it has the problem, I turn key, and I only hear a click, and the dash lights are lit, but no starter motor sound.
Early on I would call for a tow truck, but it usually started when they arrived.
I got angry one time and turned the on and off rapidly, nothing. Meditated for about 10min to calm down. Nope, still angry, so turned the key rapidly again, and the starter motor engaged, but the engine didn’t start.
So I did that again and gave it some gas, then a lot of gas. The engine was running very rough, like all cylinders were not firing, then it spews out a huge cloud of blue smoke, and the engine evens out. That’s my usual pattern now: turn the key like crazy wait a few minutes or even an hour, and keep trying.
It is usually fine for 2 to 7 days with no problems. But a couple of times it has had the problem twice in the same day. The problem seems to happen most when the engine is cold, or after a short trip. A few times, it has had the problem even after a long trip, when the engine was still hot.
What has been replaced in the last year? In this order: starter motor, battery, hot lead to fuse box, battery terminal clamps and wires, fuel pump, mass air flow (don’t know what that is), catalytic converter, and master relay. (OK the master relay probably isn’t related because rain water leaked in and dripped on the fuse box in the cab.) (Also it has 133,080 miles, and a rebuilt engine put in 4 years ago.)
After the mass air flow and catalytic converter change, the truck has started with no problems for 3 months. Now the problem is back! Same symptoms.
When they last worked on the truck they did a tune-up and they said the starting problem could have been caused by the starter motor not being lined up properly so it would “jam”. That would explain why the starter motor wouldn’t go, but it doesn’t explain the miss-firing when it does finally start going.
I also notice that after they do some work on the truck, it starts fine for about 2 weeks with no problem. So maybe something is getting wiggled into a happy position when they work on it?
If this is an “electrical” problem, what can be done to find this very intermittent problem? Also, just before the the problem started happening again, I noticed there would sometimes be about a 1/2 sec to 1 sec delay from when I turned the key, to when the starter motor would go.
Attached is an audio file of what it sounds like. 1) starting normal, 2) turning key and only clicks, 3) the rough start after many tries.