1999 Toyota Corolla Occasionally Will Not Start

So I don’t know much about cars, but I do know that my 1999 Toyota Corolla has a new trick!

Lately (about 1/10th of the time) when I stick the key in the ignition switch and turn to start the car, nothing happens aside from the battery indicator appearing on the dashboard. You might be thinking “dead or dying battery”, but the battery is new (January 2010) and it doesn?t even try to start the car–no turning, no ?clicking? as if it doesn’t have enough juice, nothing, not even the radio.

I resolve the issue by turning the key back to off and turning back to start again, and the car starts up pretty much instantaneously.

Now for the really neat trick.

This morning I walked out of the grocery store and got into my car, turned the key to start, and it pulled the same stunt–nothing. So I turn the key back to off, and as I’m turning the key back to off I hear the starter noise (the normal starting noise “enh enh enh”, not a clicking noise “tick tick tick”) as if it’s trying to start the car! I pull the key out of the ignition, and much to my surprise, it?s still going! I put the key back in the ignition, turn the key to on (not start) and the car starts up.


Possibly related or unrelated–after the car started, I start driving and hear a strange noise. It sounds like the noise a tire pump at a gas station would make, or a pool vacuum stuck with leaves. After about 60 seconds, the sound stops abruptly and the car drives fine.

I’ll be taking it in for sure, but curious if you all had heard of this before. Thanks!

You need a new cylinder, the one the key slides into.

That noise that sounds like a pool vacuum clogged with leaves is probably the starter trying to engage while the engine is running, due to the cylinder energizing the “start” circuit inappropriately. Once the key cylinder is replaced this should go away.

Listen to mountainbike.