1989 Camry with intermittent starting problem. Seems random



I’m having a really aggravating problem with my 1989 Toyota Camry. It’s got about 100k miles and has been very well behaved on the whole since I inherited it from my grandmother about 4 years ago. A couple months ago when I tried to start it the engine would just sputter out again as soon as I let go of the ignition unless I pushed the gas a little. I had never needed to do that before so I took it into the local garage. The mechanic said that the starter motor needed to be replaced because some teeth were broken off of what ever gear or wheel or thingamajig connects it to the engine. I took his advice and the car was fine for about a week. THEN when I turned the key nothing happened at all. When I try to start the car the radio goes off and the dashboard lights dim like they always do but the engine doesn?t make a sound. It’s like the starter isn’t getting power. I was away at college at the time and didn’t use it much so I waited a few days before calling AAA. When the tow truck arrived the car started normally when I tried to demonstrate the problem. Since then it has been starting seemingly at random. Sometimes it starts right up and other times it will do absolutely nothing. Over time it seemed to happen more and more frequently. One of the many times that AAA came to tow the car back to the parking lot so I could wait for it to work again, the driver suggested jump starting it “just for shits and giggles.” Low and behold it started. For a while jump starting seemed to be the answer, or at least the short term fix. Once home from college I took it back to the same garage to see if they could fix it properly. They decided that the battery needed to be replaced. That did nothing, the car started when I came to take it home but within three hours it wasn?t starting again and jump starting would NOT help. The next day they replaced the starter motor again and until today (3-4 weeks later) it has been fine. Now, suddenly the problem has come back exactly as before. If anyone has any ideas about what the heck is going on with this car I would be very grateful.


6/23/07 I’m sorry I don’t have an answer for you?just wanted to let you know you’re not alone. I’m facing the same problem with my '87 Camry. We’ve replaced the starter also. I can start it by doing one of three things: banging on the starter, jump starting it, and shifting through the gears (auto.) with the key turned on (foot on brake). I’ve been told by my mechanic it’s not likely the starter is bad again so he thinks the neutral safety switch is bad, but since I can alternately start it three different ways and not always or just by shifting through the gears, I’m sceptical. A friend suggested the starter solinoid. Now I’m faced with whether I take it to Toyota to do a diagnosis. Have you already done this?