1995 Toyota Avalon Starter issue

My 1995 Avalon’s engine won’t turn over. It was operating normally two days ago. Car has 1MZFE engine, 248,000 miles.

When I turn the key, I hear a very rapid clicking (solenoid ?)
sound from under hood. Sounds like a pneumatic rivet gun.

Battery checks out normally, it’s 2 years old. I put it on a charger, drew 4 amps initially, down to 1 amp within 10 minutes. I cleaned the terminals and connectors. No change.

I did wash the car two days ago. Would any water getting under hood harm anything? I’ve washed this car a hundred times with no issues. I’m careful to never aim the water into the grill.

Is the starter original? My '96 starter lasted half as long, wouldn’t surprise me if yours was worn out.


The copper contacts in the starter solenoid get worn down and burnt over time. It’s the most common reason for those starters to fail. It’s an easy and inexpensive repair for an auto electric shop, if you can take the starter to them and reinstall it yourself.

I recommend that instead of buying a new or a rebuilt starter.


The starter solenoid has two coils.

The pull-in coil and the hold coil.for the solenoid contacts.

The hold coil has probably failed.

Replace the starter.


There’s an auto electric shop not far from me. Starter isn’t too difficult to remove. At 248,000 miles, it doesn’t owe me anything.

I think while I’m at it, I’ll swap out the alternator with a new one, while OEMs are still available. I’ll take that to the auto shop and see if they can replace brushes and bearings.That’s original too. Beats getting stuck away from home. Thank you all.

Just to be thorough I would load test the battery. While your in there.

Battery, cruise control actuator have to be removed anyway, to get access to the starter, so I’ll do that. I’ve always used Toyota “Tru Start” batteries, which last 5 years or so. But , you never know…Thank you.

Toyota starters are made by Denso and are extremely easy to fix.Just get a starter solonoid contact kit on E-Bay.It comes with the 2 contacts and the plunger for less than $10. I fixed mine last year in under 1 hour…removal included.

Before disassembling anything, measure the battery voltage while attempting to crank the engine.

If the battery proves to be good, I’d get the starter rebuilt by a pro, bearings/etc. are probably in need of replacement after a quarter million miles.

Toyota does not make batteries . They have them made and they probably use several of the few battery manufactures that do make batteries.

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Toyota may not make batteries but they seem to source very good ones. My daughters 2010 Corolla and my 2012 Camry, bought in the fall of 2011 still have the original batteries.

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Neither does Auto Zone.

The batteries are supplied by Jonson Controls. The batteries sold by Toyota dealers have a 2 year free replacement warranty. A consumer can pay more for a battery with a lesser warranty from a different (street) retailer if that is what is recommended.

The problem is due to the battery can’t support the load of the starter motor. The clicking you heard is from the starter solenoid. The battery can handle that load okay but when the solenoid closes to run the starter motor, the battery voltage drops down so much even the solenoid cuts off. Then the battery voltage comes back and the solenoid turns on again and repeats the same thing over and over. You hear it as chattering. Make sure the battery connections are clean, even if they look okay. If the problem still occurs there may be internal wire corrosion at the battery connections causing the issue if the battery is good. The battery could be bad. Checking the voltage at the battery will tell the story. If the battery voltage is above 10 volts while trying to start the engine then something beyond the battery is causing the low voltage condition. When the solenoid contacts go bad you usually hear one click and that is it. The solenoid closes but it can’t provide power to the starter due to the dirty contacts which cause resistance to the current needed by the motor.

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Yes, there is something beyond the battery.

Just by luck, I decided to check for parasitic draw. I put a VOM in series with the battery, and it read over 750mA. Supposed to be less than around 50mA, no? Now it’s fuse pulling time, one by one, until I find the source. Let the fun begin…

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Good catch. Too many times we see people throwing parts at a problem without ever really trying to diagnose what’s wrong.

Toyota batteries carry a 24 month free replacement warranty, there is hope that you will recognize the problem with the battery before the warranty expires.

Can it be within the battery? Test the disconnected battery for parasitic draw (internal short?), before testing for it circuit by circuit?

When checking for parasitic current draw be aware that there may be a sleep mode time period required before taking the test. Otherwise you may end up chasing your tail. The draw you saw is pretty high and it should be less than 50 milliamps when things are in the sleep mode.