'97 Toyota 4Runner V6 Intermittent No Crank

I have a '97 V6 4Runner, which in the past few weeks has had an no-crank issue when I try to start-it.

What happens…I turn the key, all the lights come on in the “on” position, and then when I turn the key to the “start”…the lights all go out, and nothing happens. There is no sound, nothing. When I realize the key back to the “on” position…all the dashboard indicator lights come back on.

If I try to start it again…most of the time…it starts normally. There is a healthy crank and the engine immediately comes alive.

In the past few days…I’ve now had the issue where it is doing this more often, and more severely. Where I have to try it a couple times in a row, and then it starts.

One time…when the starter took off, it did sound weak, but I had the lights on.

I was going to replace the battery, but the start doesn’t sound weak…and when there is absolutely no sound etc…that doesn’t suggest to me it’s a weak or dieing battery.

I’ve read online, that this sounds like a dieing car starter??? I’m going to go outside in a moment…and check a few things around that…and see how difficult it looks to replace the starter myself.

I just had work done on the vehicle to replace the timing belt, and of course with that came a replacement of the water pump, and miscellaneous items in the same area of the engine.

The vehicle has 140,000 miles on it, and runs great.

Any wisdom here? as to what is going on?

First, check the battery connections to make sure they’re clean and tight.

If that checks out okay, then the next time the engine won’t start, try putting the transmission in neutral and then try starting the engine. If the engine starts when doing this, it usually means the park/neutral safety switch is out of adjustment or defective.


Toyota starters have contact in the starter solenoid that wear out, creating exactly the problem you describe. The parts to fix it should be less than $30 (replace both the side contacts and the round contact attached to the rod. Google ‘Toyota starter contacts’ and you’ll find plenty of info on how to fix this problem.