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Car won't crank!

1994 Toyota Tercel manual transmission 284k miles

Began having this problem earlier this week and it’s steadily disappointed me every day. Initially car would not crank (turn key and nothing happened), so i read online and did the following steps after each of which it did start once or twice no problems before failing on me again!

First I checked the battery and it’s at a solid 12.7V and tightened the connectors to the battery.

Checked starter (took out and to o Reilly, they plugged it in and it worked no problem, but they said it had some grease in it so i cleaned it up and the car started no problem, so i thought problem solved)…

Next day it wouldn’t start again so I thought it might be a connection issue, i cleaned the positive terminal to the starter, and both positive and negative battery connections and it worked for a day and a half (worked this morning, but then failed this afternoon)… I checked the charge and from the positive terminal to the solenoid is still 12.7V so that’s good right? I also got a light with a continuity tester from the solenoid to the engine but not! When i grounded to the frame (which was the opposite of what three website i was reading said would happen)

I’m very new to mechanic work, especially electrical, and don’t really know what to do at this point… Any ideas on what I missed or what is going on? Most recently it cranked once but didn’t start then refused to click crank or do anything since…

Any ideas?

Checking voltage doesn’t mean the battery is good. First thing I’d do is try to jump start it.

Hmm, if it starts what would that mean? Do i need to let it sit for a while to regain charge? I’ll try it out

The problem might be with the clutch pedal inter-lock switch.

This is a safety device that prevents the starter from operating unless the clutch pedal is depressed.

You can unplug this switch, and then insert a jumper wire in the electrical plug to the switch to see if the engine will start.


;If you have not replaced the starter and/or the solenoid/contactors in this many miles, you probably need to replace the contacts in the solenoid. If you don’t feel comfortable taking the cover off the solenoid and looking, take the starter to an auto electrical establishment where they can replace the contacts (fairly cheaply)

Tester! You are my hero!
Started 3 times in a row with that bypassed >D

I had that clutch safety switch part fail on my Corolla of similar vintage OP. I solved it using Tester’s method. Toyotas of this vintage seemed to have some no-crank problems, due to a variety of causes. Mine certainly did, no-cranks are by far the reason for most of the non-scheduled-maintenance work I’ve done on my Corolla.

If the problem returns, the best way to get to the bottom of it is to ask your shop to start by measuring the voltages at both starter motor terminals, the thick one and the thin one, terminal to case, during attempted cranking. If both measure above 10.5 volts, replace the starter motor. If either measures less than that, work towards the battery to find out why.