College student needs 93 Toyota Corolla to start!



My 24-year old daughter is driving a 93 Toyota Corolla which we have been told has another 50,000 miles in it. (It has about 130,000 on it now.)We are trying to make this car get her to work and school until she graduates from college next December.

It works GREAT except she has trouble from time to time starting it. (Crucial to getting somewhere; eh?!) There seems to be no pattern to this problem. She has seen three mechanics. It has a new battery and the starter and alternator have checked out as working well.

When the problem occurs, the car clicks once as she attempts to start it. But no start! Jumper cables don’t help.

After the problem occurs, she can eventually start it. When she starts it successful,she has tried it at 1-2 minute intervals. Usually it starts in between 4-10 attempts.

What else can we try??? The three mechanics we have visited can find nothing wrong with the car!


It could be lots of things and I suspect the intermittent nature of the problem is what is fouling up the diagnosis. If these are good mechanics, they have checked the high-current connection to the starter and the grounds. In the attempts to start it she may be jiggling the ignition switch in just the right way or the shifter just the right way to make contact. That would mean the ignition switch or the neutral-safety switch respectively, might be bad. Is this an auto trans? If so, has she tried to start it in neutral. If it has a clutch, the safety switch is on the clutch pedal or linkage.


As already mentioned the potentially overlooked items are the ground connection and the neutral safety switch and the ignition.


Try removing both ends of the battery cables (both of them) and cleaning both the cable and where it goes very well and reattaching making sure they are secure.


When the main battery cable to the starter has internal corrosion inside the wire it can cause a problem like this. I assume the starter solenoid was changed out with the starter but if it wasn’t then that is the next suspect. If the car has a automatic transmission then try starting it in neutral when the trouble happens or push on the shift lever while in the Park position and trying to start the engine. The neutral safety switch may be a problem.


Thanks so much for your responses. We appreciate your time!


You state that the starter was checked out. Did the mechanic remove the starter and look at the contacts inside the solenoid. This Corolla is of the age and mileage where the high current contacts have worn away. The common symptoms are a click with no start every now and then; a start after multiple key turns; and finally only click no crank. If a local autoelectric shop cannot rebuild the starter, spring for a quality rebuilt unit. If you get a replacement starter from the recycler, have the contacts looked at. It is only three screws to remove and does not affect the workings of the starter.

Hope that helps