2004 Camry start problem

On 10/2/2015 the car wouldn’t start – nothing. The cd player would may a noise very time my wife tried to start the car like it was loading/shuffling/ejecting a disc. After several tries the car started right up. I replaced the starter that same day. Today (10/22/2015 and once more since I changed the starter I am told) it sounded like the starter was turning but not the engine. The cd player made the same sound it did on 10/2. After several tries the car started. She took the car to Autozone, they couldn’t find anything wrong. The alternator and the battery are two years old, the fan belt is new. Could there be a bad ground somewhere? Could the new starter be defective (solenoid)?

I should have mentioned that the battery connections are good. I always use dielectric grease so there’s never any corrosion.

Could you be more specific what happens when you turn the key to “start”? Does it “click” but no “rrr rrr rrr” sound. Or does it make the “rrr rrr rrr” sound, but it won’t catch and run?

Or does it neither “click” nor “rrr rrr rrr”? If the latter, it could be a neutral safety switch problem. Is this an automatic or manual transmission?

If in fact the starter is turning but the engine isn’t, that would be either a bad starter or gears have stripped from the ring gear. Has it ever made a grinding noise during cranking to start?

Edit: Yes, it could be a bad replacement starter. I’ve had that happen on my Corolla, and had to remove it and take it back. When it happened to me, I just got my money back, and had the first starter repaired instead.

According to my wife, it sounds like the starter is turning but not the engine. I tried to listen over the cell phone, but naturally the car started right up. Car has automatic transmission. Both times it happened the engine was warm.
The cd player noise has me puzzled. I heard it once maybe 5 years ago and if I remember correctly a battery cable was loose. The radio didn’t loose its pre-sets and the clock is still accurate.
For now, I’m driving the car until I can get this figured out. Its been starting with no problem.

If the CD player is acting up every time this is happening, it is unlikely to be the starter, rather some loose electrical or battery issue.

Your answers to GSJ’s questions are crucial to narrowing down the possibilities. If you and your wife will read them and discuss them and post back here, you’re much closer to getting the problem diagnosed and then fixed.

The CD player acting up like that, it makes me think it is loosing juice and is going into reset mode. Could be just a loose connector. But if that happens during cranking, I’d be suspicious of a discharged or marginal battery, or high ohm connection at the battery posts.

On most cars the battery is connected by a very thick wire directly to the starter motor. No fuses, no circuit breakers, nothing in that path but pure copper. A straight connection. When the starter motor activates, it draws a large current, often over 100 amps. So if the resistance at the battery connectors were even as much as 0.05 ohms, that would cause a 5 volt drop at the connector and the 12 volts going to the CD player would suddenly become 7 volts, which could indeed cause it to reset. Weak battery or acid-eaten cables could cause the same problem.

If the starter is running when this problem happens then you should hear a low whirring type sound coming from the starter motor. That may be what your wife heard. This would mean that there is most likely a bad spot on the ring gear where the starter bendix would engage in order to turn the engine over.

I’m driving the car for now, it hasn’t done it again in 20+ starts. I checked the battery connections. They’re tight and there’s no corrosion anywhere. I thought maybe some missing/damaged teeth on the flywheel, but that wouldn’t explain the cd noise. When/if it happens again I’ll have a better idea. I didn’t actually hear it myself when it wouldn’t start

Possibility that coins or other object may be inside the CD drive? I know that with our Honda OEM CD radio that coins inside will cause a no-start situation.

No kids involved, so coins aren’t likely.

I don’t see how the CD player would come into play with the starting problem. The sound you hear may be normal but you just don’t notice it when the starter is working and it over rides the sound coming from the CD player.

CD player sound is definitely not normal,

The CD player has NOTHING with starting of the car. It’s a coincidence that the CD is sounding funny. Two completely systems.

Those CD changers cycle through each disc position when the radio is reconnected or after the battery is reconnected and the ignition is switched on. This suggests that there is a poor connection somewhere.

That’s what I’m afraid of (poor connection) because its not obvious. Haven’t had the problem repeat in the last 30 to 40 starts,

Yesterday it didn’t seem like it had a lot of umpf and it wasn’t running well. Finally in the afternoon it wouldn’t start. Starter wasn’t turning, I did hear clicking sound (didn’t sound like it came from starter) plus the cd player made the same sound it did last time the car wouldn’t start. Charged the battery for maybe 10 minutes, it started right up. Brought it to Autozone, “bad battery”. Hopefully that was it,

It’s the simple things in life.