Car doesn't start when turn ignition key (no sounds, but lights/radio/dashboard/ works


#1

I drive a 1997 well-maintained Toyota. This is the 1st time I’ve had this problem. It started yesterday. I started my car, as usual to stop somewhere for 5 minutes. When I returned I tried to start the car and got “nothing”. No sounds, but the lights/radio/dashlight worked. I tried several times, gave up and called AAA.

I took a walk around the block to see if my mechanic was open on Saturday in case I had to tow my car there. It wasn’t. I went back to my car to wait for AAA. However, this time the car started immediately, and I drove home after cancelling AAA. I drove the car the rest of the day/evening on & off with no problems.

Today, I tried to start it in the AM and once again it did not start (like the previous day). My neighbor suggested that the ignition & steering wheel are related and could be something to do with that. Anyway, I tried turning the wheel to the right/left, etc. but could not get it started today as I did the day before,

Tomorrow I plan to have it towed (or maybe it will start again) to my mechanic. What could be wrong? Never had this type of thing happen before. The battery is good.
Thank you.


#2

Check the connections on the battery and make sure they are tight. If one or both are loose they could be moving around while driving and thus not charging the battery fully (especially if they are side post).

The battery can have enough power to turn on the lights/radio yet not enough to start the engine.


#3

Yes, check connections at battery.

Also could be neutral safety switch. This keeps current from reaching the starter motor unless the trans is in P or N. The switch can go bad or out of adjustment. There may be a technique to circumvent it temporarily. Check your owners manual.

Could be the copper contacts in the starter solenoid are worn. This is not unusual in Toyota starters. I experienced this in my 1979 Toyota truck and also a 1999 Plymouth minivan - both use the same brand of starter motor. You could install a rebuilt starter motor, or remove yours and have an auto electric shop diagnose and repair it.


#4

More than likely it’s the starter. Some times you can wack the starter and it will work temporarily. Mine on my 99 Camry went out at 100k miles. I got mine at NAPA. Toyota wanted a fortune for it, because it has a gear drive on it.


#5

Agree with knfenimore and shanonia, starter is likely culprit.