1995 Toyota 4runner 251,900 miles ENGINE WONT TURN OVER

My car engine wont turn over. I can hear the starter going when I turn the key but the engine wont start. My battery is old and when I read volt meter in my car the line is right in the middle. When I tried getting jump started by a friend the engine still wont turn over. I’m wondering if this is due to a bad battery that drained because of cold weather or something else.

Thank you

If you hear the starter going, then the engine is turning over. Only exception is if you hear the starter motor spinning by itself - high pitched sound different from the usual turning over sound.

You are describing an engine that is turning over, but is not “firing up” and starting.

yes its not firing up and starting

Im wondering if this could be due to overheating of the engine. Yesterday my Engine overheated and I pulled over and put coolant in it because I was low. After that I drove from Boston to Vermont with no problem. And no overheating occurred after.

It could be something beyond coincidence, but maybe not. You need to get some basic troubleshooting done. Here’s what I would do:

  1. Check that engine bottom end and valve train are connected: Remove distributor cap (if present) and verify that the rotor is turning while the engine is turning over. If not, this has to be fixed to make the engine start and run.

  2. Check for spark: Pull off a spark plug wire. Plug something metal into the wire’s end connection - something that will stick out beyond the rubber boot. Hold that metal 1/4" from the engine block or other good ground. You will want to be well insulated electrically - dry, thick gloves, for example. When someone turns the key to Start, there should be fat powerful sparks jumping to ground.

  3. Check that fuel is getting to the engine: Turn the key to On (not all the way to Start) and listen for the fuel pump to run for a couple seconds. If it runs, try this another couple times, then turn key all the way to Start. If no start - check that there is fuel in the tank. Test for fuel pressure at the throttle body, with a gauge if available. Or carefully loosen the fuel pipe where it enters the throttle body. You should get a burst of fuel. Be ready with a rag, and be cautious with fuel/spray/sparks/smokes.

There are may cautions besides concerns about electricity and flammable fuel. Keep hair and clothes away from moving engine parts is another.

If any of these diagnostic procedures sound dangerous, don’t try them. They are the traditional things a skilled mechanic does. Some here make their livings as skilled mechanics, others like myself have learned a lot over the years on an amateur/hobby basis. Good luck and please keep us informed.

You’ve got what’s called a “cranks, but no start” problem. For the engine to start you need three basic things in the cylinders

  • fuel and air of the correct mixture
  • spark
  • compression

There’s many reasons why you may not have all three of those things happening in your car. What you require at this point is a proper diagnosis. After checking for any stored diagnostic codes, the first thing most mechanics will check for with these symptoms, b/c it is the easiest and least time consuming, is spark. It’s possible the crank position sensor could have been damaged by the thermal changes associated w/the overheating and then cooling overnight, which could cause a no-spark condition.

Are we SURE the starter motor has engaged and is indeed turning the engine over. Meaning if you had the hood open…you would see your fan spinning along with the engine. There can be a lot of confusion here when someone incorrectly uses the term “turn over” To turn the engine over is just that…to spin the engine with the starter until it starts and then runs.

Many many a Denso starter in a Toyota needs to have its solenoid contacts replaced. Ive rebuilt countless Denso Starter Solenoids. You can usually replace the contacts 2-3 times before the starter motor proper gets tired out. If you turn the key and just hear a click…this is the primary symptom. But if you state correctly that the engine does indeed turn over…then the troubleshooting moves beyond the starter and toward fuel and ignition… Its a logical progression.


It started up yesterday on a dime. I truly think it was the extreme cold weather we had in VT. I think it’s dying battery.

I drove it around for 30min after I started it and ran fine. No loss in power or anything.

The fact that the engine turned over but did not start means that there was enough electricity to available to power the ignition system. The ignition coils and spark plugs use very little juice, compared to the demands of a starter motor.

George SJ’s suggestion of a heat-related problem with the crank position sensor is a good one. These sensors, whether CPS or the distributor-mounted signal generator a.k.a. pickup coil, do tend to fail intermittently under high heat. Eventually they quit altogether. They are not expensive.

Honda B’s description of the problem with Denso starters is quite accurate. As he points out, your engine has always turned over, but has not always started. That it always turned over means the starter motor is functioning as it should.