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1999 Toyota Camry takes about 10 key turns to start

I have a '99 Toyota Camry LE V6 standard (not automatic). When trying to start the car, it usually takes many key turns (~10 times) to get the car to start. On occasion, turning the steering wheel seems to help.
What could be the problem and what do I need to do to fix it?

How many miles on the car? Is the check engine light on? The engine cranks when you turn the key but won’t start, right? Has the fuel pump or relay ever been changed and when?

Great questions.

It has been a while (do not have record) of when last time fuel pump or relay were changed.

It has almost 253k miles.

Yes, the check engine light is on.

The engine does not crank when key turns only after ~10 times. All the lights on the dash turn on, though.


To help you, we need the OBD error codes it is generating. And how long has the CEL light been on? If you can get them read and posted in the form of P0xxx, we can try and help. In their absence, it would be a wild guess.

The starter solenoid contacts are worn, replace the starter.



both the Starter and the battery were bad. Replaced both and now feels like it gained 10 years!

Thanks for the help.

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He could have replaced the 2 solonoid contacts and plunger himself with a $10 kit from ebay. Just did it on my 99 Corolla. Toyota of this era has a Denso starter.

Maybe. The starter motor can fail in other ways, for example the armature contacts, brushes. When you absolutely need your car to crank reliably, you want quick results, and expense isn’t too much of an issue, replacing both the battery and the starter for this problem can be a good move. Worse case, it still won’t crank for some other reason, but once you get that fixed, at least you’'ll have a new battery and starter.

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I have replaced solenoid contacts in my own starters but for others I recommend to do it once, do it right, replace the starter. Most people don’t have time to deal with future problems with an old starter.


A new starter on a 19 year old car? the OP must be rich if he does that.

New, remanufactured, take your pick, they are about the same price.

Are you suggesting that only rich people would buy a new/rebuilt starter for a 19 year old vehicle?

Even older vehicles deserve a proper repair

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Yeah, most expensive starter I could find on Rockauto was about $160, core charge included. Not too much to pay, to me.

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Changing the contacts and plunger in a Denso starter is a proper repair in my book.You will never know what you are getting if you buy a rebuilt.

These are not Denso starters. They are cheap rebuilt that wont last a year.

I don’t know about @texases, but I’ve only bought Denso rebuilt starters for my Toyotas, over the years

If I’m throwing away good money by your estimation, I’m guilty and proud of it :smiley_cat:


I don’t think so. There are 5 new ones, including ACDelco and Remy, and 5 rebuilts, including ACDelco, Remy, Bosch, and Denso. I’d have no problem using them.


I replaced the starter on my Corolla w/a Denso rebuilt unit within the past year. Been cranking away fine. I didn’t turn in the old starter (“Toyota” branded) for the core refund, b/c I want to figure out what its problem is. Replacing the plunger and copper contacts wasn’t sufficient, still was a bit balky. I’m suspecting the armature contacts are the problem. If so I should be able to shine them up like new and have a back-up starter ready to go.

As I recall the Denso rebuilt wasn’t overly expensive, around $160. Maybe a little less than that. I did make the mistake of installing a non-Denso rebuilt starter in the past, but learned my lesson from that experience.

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I still have a long wire with dozens of Denso starter solenoid contacts of the 2 or 3 varieties and over the years I have repaired quite a few starters but more often than not I installed a rebuilt that I felt was reliable.