Daughters 1988 Camry Wagon, 2.0L FI, 4 Cyl

For several days, my daughter?s car initially appeared to have intermittent starter problems. It sounded like the solenoid was sticking due to a pitched noise during start-up and exit from driveway. At which time the car was immediately stopped, ignition turned off and the car was rocked back and forth by the passengers, to supposedly free up the stuck starter system. The car then started and ran quietly to the destination. This process was required several times intermittently over the next several days.

Attempts to duplicate the problem were then initiated. The car was placed in the driveway, started, and driven up and down the street for several minutes, then parked and shut off. This process was done six times to try and duplicate the previous starter problem, but to no avail??? It started and ran well, quietly each time???

Next day, the car started easily, idled, started out well, traveled for several miles on the highway, and then stalled when stopping at the traffic signal at end of the highway exit ramp.

It eventually started after several tries during which there was no starting sound indications from the starter or engine compartment, dead ignition sequence? After several minutes, it just started and made it to the destination.

At the destination, an attempt to start the car was not successful. After several hours, it was suggested to rock the car before starting it. It started and made it home.

Note: When car was running and then headlights were turned on, the engine RPMs increased. When lights were turned off the RPMs decreased?

There is no active Check Engine Light illuminated on the dashboard.

Never heard of a sticking solenoid. Could be the bendix drive not releasing from the flywheel after the motor starts.

Is the transmission manual or automatic? Rocking the car with an automatic would not move the flywheel of the motor and would have no impact on the solenoid. Not sure why rocking has any positive affect.

The car stalling would have nothing to do with the starting motor.

There are multiple issues which if you try to connect them to one problem is going to add to your confusion. First, the car is over 20 years old, so just about anything could be going on.

The battery could be weak. One (of six) of the battery’s cells can be dead causing low voltage. The 5 remaining cells have enough pop to start the car. Have the battery tested, it could be time to replace it.

The alternator seems to be charging at least the change in idle speeds suggests the alternator is putting a slight load on the motor and the faster idle compensates for the load.

The starter could be bad, I would replace it since a bad bendix drive holding up could damage the flywheel.

The solenoid is cheap enough if you want to replace it go ahead, but it may just be showing the effects of low voltage from the battery.

Thank you for the reply This is my first venture on the CarTalk website. I now realize the need for a more accurate description and clarification when stating a question to the help board.
I am a little rusty on specifics. I should have said the bendix drive.
The car has a standard transmission, and I vaguely remembered that rocking the car while in gear would free up the bendix drive.
The battery was replaced about six months ago.
I am resigned to the fact that I will have to replace the solenoid as soon as possible.

The main issue now is the car stalls after smooth running for 5 ? 10 minutes of travel?
I have checked the battery connections and all of the various vacuum lines for leaks.
Is there a place to start with respect to sensors that fail when the engine is warm?