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1998 Toyota Corolla, WHAT DID I DO?

The starter on my 1998 Corolla was behaving badly, 9 times out of ten it wouldn’t start. I had replaced the battery and terminals to no avail. I took it to a mechanic, they confirmed the starter was going bad. Finally the starter refused to turn, only clicking when I turned the key. So I took the starter out. I was going to get a new one, but just in case, I had it tested first. And according to NAPA’s machine, it still WORKS! I saw the spindle pop out and the gear spin vigorously. So, I put the starter back in the car and it continues to work. Not sure why, maybe the 10 times I had to hit it with a hammer to get it out of the car knocked something loose.

However, now I have another problem. Now, when I start the car, the engine immediately revs up to about 8000 rpm and stays there. I think I must have made some bonehead rookie mistake. I had to take out a bunch of stuff to remove and replace the starter, including the upper radiator hose, several air hoses and the set of metal tubes that connect the air filter to the engine. They seem to be back in place, but I must have messed something up, I just don’t know what. Any ideas? What should I check? What are common bonehead rookie mistakes I may have made?

FIRST…while you had your starter off you should have rebuilt the starter solenoid…fairly ez to do if you have the ability to remove your own starter…look it up on the net… al ong time ago I bought a kit from a reputable starter rebuilder that allows me to rebuild approx 120 starter solenoids…nice to have YOU WILL SEE YOUR STARTER AGAIN…since you didnt actually fix it…the terminals inside the solenoid are erroded and need to be replaced…a new starter is of inferior quality…unless you buck up for a factory toyota starter… which is expensive for good reason…they are built very well.

You also have a starter relay you could look into…but usually it is the starter solenoid

As for bonehead mistakes? Look at your throttle cable…you probably have it bent out of the way and that bend is causing a high idle…other things to look for is loose or cracked vacume hoses. OR look for a wire harness that is not fully plugged in near your fuel injection…this may be your idle control valve …without that you will get wild idle fluctuations… JUst look it over really well especially look for things that could jam up the action of your throttle…

8,000 rpm?


A bit of a shot in the dark, but from experience, while you’re fiddling around, have the integration relay checked. Toyota, for some unknown reason, decided one big integrated relay would be better than several specialized ones. Probably saves money, but it becomes a bit of a hassle.

I’ve seen countless comments on these going bad, and the 2 98 Corollas we had in our extended family both were disposed of after these went bad and started giving off all sorts of electrical gremlins. Typically cleaning the ground for the relay or replacing it would fix it, but try convincing someone that replacing a $220 part and paying for 2 hours of labor would get their car useable again when they do not trust it in the least.

I don’t have a tachometer, so I’m estimating, but it sounds like a jet taking off.

I believe you about Toyota starters. The car has 170000 miles on it and this was the original starter we took out. One thing, there was what appeared to be a drain on it made of rubber and it had been sealed shut from heat from the engine. Is it possible that not having a good drain was causing rust to build up inside the starter? Rust which I knocked loose getting the starter out? I cut the sealed end off the “drain.” But frankly, with 170,000 miles on the car, I’m saving the starter rebuild money for whatever actually goes wrong NEXT. :slight_smile:

Checked the throttle cable. it appears to be functioning correctly. I even pulled off the big rubber tube leading from the air filter box to the throttle body. There’s a little door in there (the throttle I assume), and when no pressure is put on the accelerator the door is closed, and when I push the accelerator all the way down, the door is open. This seems correct to me, no?

All the hoses are quite supple, I do not think they are cracked. It is difficult to check for a vacuum leak with the engine running so loud, any ideas how I could do so?

So far I’m not getting any fluctuations at all, the car goes immedately to 8000 rpm and stays there until I shut it off. I suppose I could wait a little longer, see if it comes down, but I don’t want to damage the engine.

Like I said, the throttle seems to be working fine, so far I haven’t found any loose wires, but I’ll check again. I don’t suppose anyone has a picture of what all this is supposed to look like? (should have taken one myself…)

Where is that relay? inside the fusebox? or elsewhere?

His V-Tec just kicked in yo. Seriously though, if it’s bouncing off the rev limter, it’s not turning 8000 RPM. Maybe slightly north of 6000 RPM. At 8000 RPM you’d be hearing, seeing, and smelling a rod exiting the oil pan like a POW breaking out of Colditz

To address the starter issue itself, the fact that it works on a benchtop test machine does not mean the starter is totally good. Starter motors act differently when placed under a load (as in cranking the engine) and what should have been done is to test the starter motor current draw as it physically cranks the engine.

As to the engine overrevving about all I can suggest is making sure the throttle plate moves frelly and closes against the throttle plate stop as it should. If the throttle plate is free then about all I can suggest is go back over all of the air hoses to verify the correct routing, that there’s no Idle Air Valve problem, etc.
You might also try to verify that the used starter motor which received numerous hammer whacks is not staying engaged and is artificially helping to raise the engine RPMs.

The speed at which the engine runs once started is so much faster than the starter motor turns it, it seems very unlikely to me that it is not disengaging. Even if the throttle is not closing completely, there is absolutely no variance in the speed of the engine when I do use the pedal, which I would expect there to be some. Does anyone know, do the fuel injectors simply sense how much air is going in and inject fuel accordingly, or do they respond to the throttle position sensor. Or is that even what that little box on top of the throttle is on this car?