'94 Toyota Pickup: Occasionally turning the key gets dead silence

My '94 Toyota p/u has had a starting glitch as long as I’ve owned it: sometimes, more often when it’s cold than warm, turning the ignition key gets dead silence - no click, no solenoid, nothing. Using the Clutch Start Cancel switch has no effect. Jumping the truck makes no difference, it won’t crank. But push-starting it works instantly.
The truck’s got 160k miles, so I’ve done lots of replacement: new starter, new ignition switch, new battery. I’ve scrubbed and inspected cables and wiring, and it’s all dry-New Mexico-clean. Is there a crank angle sensor or something I’m missing?
Thanks for your time, everyone.

The starter relay seems like a good place to check.

Google ‘Toyota starter solenoid’, you’ll find lots of info on replacing the solenoid contacts. Worked for me.

Could you hear the solenoid pulling in but the starter failed to operate, texases? Usually the solenoid clicks but intermittently fails to fully engage when the contacts are shot. And, are those contacts available anywhere? I believe I still have a few but they required some effort to find and it was necessary to buy several dozen.

Yes, in fact I did initially replace the starter solenoid contacts, to no avail. So I replaced the whole starter - to no avail again! When the problem appears, the solenoid doesn’t throw at all; all I get is dead silence.
Oddly, the local Toyota dealer in Albuquerque did have the contacts, no problem.

Not really oddly. Toyota has a part number for the contacts as a replacement kit that includes the plastic isolators as well.

I think the problem could be in the Clutch Safety Switch. If the truck has an alarm, the starter cut-out solenoid is also suspect. Both will prevent the key signal from getting to the starter, and are known to cause intermittent problems until they fail altogether. Other times they just plain fail. The clutch safety switch is on the clutch pedal assembly under the dash.

Rod Knox - I got a pair from the Toyota dealer, not available from the parts store. And I remember just a very minor noise when I turned the key, but it was 4 years ago…

gnorman - sorry, it must be something else, like BustedK said.

Just curious, texases. What did the contacts cost from the dealer?

BustedKnuckles - great thought on the CSS. The truck doesn’t have an alarm, so it’s probably worth replacing an old piece of electrics. I’ll see what it runs at the dealer and give it a try. Thanks!

When you turn the key…Do you get any lights on your instrument cluster? Yes? No? Need to know. Its more than important

Sounds like a ECU relay Starter Relay or some other Main relay to me…open your fuse panel under the hood and see which relays are interchangeable…pay attention to which ones you swap around and see what you get… I think the issue lies there…IF it isnt a factory alarm issue…cutting the starter wire on you (with a relay of course) I was a Professional Car Alarm/Remote Start/Stereo installer among other things…LOL for over 10yrs. I know electrical gremlins pretty well and those caused by factory alarms.

REALLY REALLY need to know what lights you get upon KOEO state… (Key on Engine Off) SOrry…

Yes, when I get the “dead silence” from the starter, I do indeed have dash lights and radio. In fact the electrics seem fine - except for cranking the starter. And as I’ve mentioned, trying to jump-start it does absolutely nothing for it: still dead silence when I turn the key.
And Honda B - you deserve a medal for dealing with auto electrics for that long. Most people would go crazy.

You seem to have the starter solenoid contacts and the starter relay covered. I only have one more possibility to add.

My '89 Toyota pickup acted exactly this way once when I burned the fusible link. It acted intermittent. Any bubbling on the insulation?

LOL…No Medals as of late for my electrical work on cars and trucks…but yes I do think I deserve one…It wont drive you nuts if you approach eletrical issues with a sound plan and patience… I admit if you didnt know what you were doing electrical problems could seem the work of the Devil himself. Basically thats because electricity is Natures most Promiscuous Whore…“It will go down to the ground anywhere it can, very quickly if permitted”

TRUE very true…there are a few fuseable links to be checked for sure…grab a multi-meter and check them. Have you tried to eliminate the starter relay? You basically get a piece of braided speaker wire and Jumper contacts 87 and 30 to bypass ANY of those relays…

The red/green polarized LED test lights are the best thing going for chasing down electrical problems.

Okay: I remember when a fusible link was a piece of wire that acted like a fuse, like you describe, Mountainbike. When I look them up in my manuals, I see that a “fusible link” is now a boxy thing like a, well, fuse. So I’ve checked them for continuity (they seem good), and taken a look at the clutch switch.
As you mention, Blackbird, the Devil’s in the details, particularly the detail that I can’t provoke the behavior any time I want. I have to wait till the dang thing strands me.
BUT now I can A) bypass the clutch switch and B) bypass all those suckers (87 to 30 - thanks!) the next time it happens.
Sure wish there was a common failure here, but at least I’m getting lots of new parts, hah.
Thanks everyone!

Now ALL vehicles with DENSO starters suffer from eroded Starter solenoid contact points…Ive written about it too many X… But your issue doesnt seem to describe this scenario…since you get no CLICK…IF YOU DID get a CLICK…but no starter engagement then it would be your solenoid contacts… Rebuildable…very easy Go here for parts…you can even buy the plungers along with the contacts…you will understand after you view the website pictures…



You might not believe this, Blackbird. Those contacts were less than 25c the last time I bought them.

I DO believe it…as they were like .35c for me last x…Then again, I just pop into the local shop that does rebuilds on all sorts of starters etc…He has Bins of them… He knows me by name now…so I just show up…grab a few and throw a couple of bucks on the table… Even tho he wanted .35 each…I gave him 2 bucks… Cause I know I will be back sometime in the near future. EVen if they were 10 bucks each its still worth it … No?