2008 Tacoma doesn't like to start cold

After my car has sit for a couple of days, it doesn’t like to start. By, " doesn’t like to start", I mean it doesn’t even click when the key is turned. I put a new battery in it but that didn’t help. If I get it to start it seems to always start after coming out of a store (knock on wood). This only seems to be a problem after it has sit for a while.

Oh yeah, I have taken it to a Toyota dealer in Eugene and they couldn’t find anything wrong except a loose battery cable (which I told them couldn’t be the problem) and turns out I was right since it has happened after they tightened the cable again.

If its an automatic transmission, the next time this happens put it in neutral and then try to start it. If that works then you probably need a new neutral safety switch.

If its a manual, figure out how to test the safety switch at the clutch pedal and check it the next time this happens.

Out of curiosity, why did you assume that a loose battery cable couldn’t be the problem? This symptom is quite common with loose or corroded battery connections.

It is an automatic and didn’t start in neutral, but thanks.

When I replaced the battery, the cables were a little hard to get off. I could admit to not tightening the cables when I put the ew battery on, but I knew for sure they were tight when I disconnected the old battery. So, the cables were not loose when this whole thing started. The dealer’s mechanic offered to keep the car but I was planning to go out of town so I didn’t leave it.

The saga continues. After receiving a clean bill of health from the Toyota Dealer, I went on a planned 250 mile trip to Southern Oregon and the, ‘not starting when cold’ problem persists. Found a very nice mobile mechanic ( for $75) who jiggled the Stater Relay Switch and then was able to start the vehicle. He declared that, ‘it’s a good bet that your starter relay switch is going out’. After replacing the $66 switch which I located in Roseburg, OR (there were only 3 available in the entire state of Oregon), I still have the ‘not starting when cold’ problem. I am getting all sorts of magical car advice from distant acquaintances:

  1. This is why you should never keep a car over 4 years old.
  2. Try loosening the battery’s ground cable and then tightening it up again.
  3. Try starting it with ALL of your sets of keys.


How do you get it started when it acts up?? Does it require a jump, or does it eventually just turn over?

It could also be a bad solenoid inside the starter. Next time the engine won’t start, open the hood and bang the starter housing with a hammer. That sometimes will unstick a stuck solenoid. Then try starting the engine. If the engine starts after banging the starter, that’s a pretty good indication that you need a new/rebuilt starter.

The current mechanic (not Toyota) thinks it’s a bad starter (ignition switch). He said he was able to basically hot wire it bypassing the starter switch.

gsragtop - That is what was so weird about this whole thing. The problem and temporary fixes were so random that something as minor as charging the battery, tightening a battery cable or unplugging a relay and plugging it back in would allow the car to start, then the next morning would see it not working again with the previous days solution ineffective. Even weirder, once started on one day, it would continue to start for the rest of that day, even five hours later. Sitting over night would bring the problem back again.

Turns out it was the starter or ignition switch ($600+). The mechanic said my problem was somewhat rare. The starter housing was also melted.