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2006 Toyota Solara won't start

I was picking my daughter up from school on Friday, drove to the school, parked and left the motor running while waiting on her to come out. The car suddenly dies and won’t restart. I thought initially it was a problem of bad cable connections on the batter, but after resolving that, I still couldn’t get the car to crank due to a drained battery. I pulled engine codes and got a 306, misfire on bank 6, pulled and replaced the plug, and put a new battery on the car. Now, when I try to start it, the starter spins fast, RPM goes up to close to 1000, and the motor will eventually start to turn over correctly, but will quit and go back to the fast spinning. It will rotate back and forth between the try to crank and fast spinning continuously. I tried pulling engine codes again and got nothing. Any thoughts/ideas/help would be greatly appreciated.

Timing belt comes to mind as a possibility.

I did think of that, but with the motor turning over normally with compression, I was hoping to rule that out

When it does try to turn over I should say

Timing belt is my guess, too.

I believe the 2006 Solara uses either a 3MZ-FE V6 with a timing belt, or a 2AZ-FE, with a timing chain

The 3.3 3MZ-FE is apparently an interference engine

A compression test would quickly yield very useful information

Does it seem to be cranking faster than it normally did? By “cranking” I mean that rrr rrr rrr sound you hear just before it pops, starts, and runs on its own.

Or do you think it is just cranking a little more robustly b/c you’ve put in a new battery?

If it is starting and running even just a little bit, the timing belt isn’t likely the problem. I don’t see how it could start at all if the timing belt had split.

Are you sure it has plenty of gas in the tank? Did you use a different gas station than you usually do last time you filled the tank?

There’s a simple and free way to eliminate the timing chain (or belt) as a candidate. Pull a (the) valve cover and see if the rockers are rocking when the engine is spun with the starter. I suspect db may have been suggesting using a compression test to check for an intact chain/belt, and that’s a great way too.

If the chain/belt (which engine do you have?) is eliminated as a candidate, I’d start considering the crank position sensor. These can occasionally result in weird symptoms when they crap out.

Beyond that, it’s back to basics; fuel and spark.

Post back. We do care.

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This reminds me of my wife’s daily clunker, 1997 Acrua CL. She was driving it when suddenly it stuttered, jerked and came to a complete stop. She was able to restart it a couple of time and each time drive for about a minute before it finally died. She called me and the first thing I asked was whether or not she had plenty of gas. Her response was more than a quarter of a tank. Unable to get there and look at it she had it towed back home. It took me several hours before I figured out that the tank was actually bone dry. For one or another reason the float, or whatever is inside the tank, must have gotten stuck. I filled the thing up with gas and it started immediately. For another odd reason the fuel indicator has returned to normal and has worked just fine for 8 or 9 months now.

I think we need some clarification. We may be misunderstanding the symptoms from the OP.
The code that you read…P0306 is simply a “misfire on cylinder 6”…nothing more. There is no bank 6, as “bank” only refers to the left or right side of the engine.

I understand this posting as follows:
The engine sometimes cranks but at times the starter will disengage and will just spin without turning the engine over.

This would be…you hear the “rrr rrr rrr” of the engine turning over…then will hear the high pitched whine of the starter spinning free… then the starter catches the the flywheel and you again here the “rrr rrr rrr” of the engine turning over.

If this is right, you need a new starter.
The stalling may have just been a fluke, or a separate problem.


Sorry for the delayed response, it has been raining here last few days and I had to pull a double shift yesterday. The car seems to be trying to start and then it sounds like the starter appendix doesn’t kick out to engage the flywheel. If I bump the key a couple of times, it does re-engage. I am trying to get the car off the side of the road and back home so I can do a better in depth look. But, to clarify, I can turn the car over, it will turn over as if trying to crank, and then it is like the starter appendix disengages and you just here the motor whirling/whinning. If I turn the key on and off a few times, it will turn over a few times again as if trying to crank and then nothing. As for gas, yes, there is plenty, at least half a tank or more.

I had just filled the car up a couple of days ago and haven’t driven the car since.

Starter bendix? Then you probably need a new starter. When the starter is off, have them check the flywheel teeth, there may be a problem there also.

Although it could be a weak battery not allowing the bendix to fully engage. You can check that with a voltmeter. You should have at least 10 volts at the starter when it is running.

Once you get that fixed, then work on the non-start issue.

That new information made me think of the bendix assembly also. It sounds like the starter gear isn’t disengaging from the flywheel ring gear when the engine starts. I admit, I’m interpolating here trying to get a clear picture of the description.

A bit off topic, Wikipedia says bendix gears are not used in newer designs. Instead, “the pre-engagement system using a solenoid” is used. Sounds to me like the gear is pushed into position with the flywheel by a solenoid before the starter starts turning?


edit: a bit of research seems to indicate that the mechanism is still called a bendix, even though the engagement is caused by a solenoid, not by the gears and spring.

If I read your post correctly the vehicle is setting on the road shoulder some distance from your home. If so I would spend the money to have it towed to your home or a repair place. I see vehicles quite often left overnight beside roadways that when the owner returns a large amount of expensive vandalism has occurred.

Bill, you’re technically correct, Bendix being the company that originally developed the system but stopped making them years ago, but the term “Bendix assembly” has become a part of the vernacular and is generally used to describe the solenoid/lever/gear assembly that engages the starter gear to the flywheel and enables the starter motor circuit.

It’s kind of like “Kleenex”. No matter who makes it, everyone understands what a “Kleenex” is. It’s become part of the vernacular.

It’s usually pretty easy to tell if the starter motor is turning the engine or not. Knowing that one way or the other with 100% certainly will go a long way towards diagnosing this problem. Ask someone to watch the belts in the engine comparment to see if they are moving or not while you crank.

The OP seems to have explained it well enough in his post Yesterday.

I think a new starter is in order.


Well, I got the car home and checked the starter as George suggested, and, quiet honestly, am a little embarrassed that I didn’t think about doing that earlier. Unfortunately, the starter appears to be fine. The belts are all turning at all times while trying to start the car. It will spin as if no compression, and then try to start like there is compression, and then spin freely again, as it has been doing. I guess it’s time to check the timing belt.