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Green truck blues

My son, a college student, has a 1997 Toyota Four Runner. When he gets in it in the mornings it starts right away but if he shuts off the motor it will not restart for about an hour. He also stated that with the motor running, when he puts it in park it will idle very fast. He took it to a Toyota Dealership in Georgia who replaced the “starter contacts” for four hundred dollars but the problem was not corrected. He brought it to another dealer in Alabama who saw that the car could not be moved from their service bay for an hour but they did not diagnose the problem. To their credit they did not make up a solution and did not charge for the evaluation. Currently, when he leaves for school he has to plan to be at his first stop for an hour. Has anyone else heard about this problem?

Define not start first of all.
I read this as the truck not doing anything at all when it has a no-start condition.
No starter motor groan or turning over, no “click” sound from the starter solenoid, etc. Is that correct?

Does this truck have an automatic transmission?

If it has an automatic transmission and there is no “click” sound when the key is turned to the START position then the neutral safety switch may be bad. Shift the transmission into neutral and see what happens. If it starts, the switch is faulty.

The fast idle is likely another problem; maybe a fault in the Idle Air Valve or IAC control circuit.

Thanks. By “not start” I meant that the motor will “turn over” but will not “catch”, if that helps to clarify the problem. It has an automatic transmission. Thanks, again for your help.

Based on your post, it is going to be near impossible to even get close on this because one could read that as 3 separate problems.

“Replaced the starter contacts” points to an inoperative starter motor, which could have been a legitimate fix or a wild guess based on how the symptom was described to the shop.

Fast idle points to a vacuum leak, problem with the Idle Air Valve, etc.

The engine cranking over and not starting could be either fuel or spark related, or it could be related to the chassis electrical system. (ignition switch, etc.)

About all I can suggest is that your son drop by an AutoZone, Checkers, whomever, and have them scan the truck for any codes. They will do this free. Something may be present in there.
Another option would be to spray some aerosol carburetor cleaner into the air intake or an intake vacuum hose when it will not start and see if the truck starts then. If it does start then you at least know the problem is fuel related.

Post any results back for discussion. Picking a couple of things out of the blue, I might be leaning towards a faulty crank sensor or ignition module based on the complaint of not starting after an hour. (This would be engine heat related).

A couple of things that might be causing this problem. First, the Coolant Temperature Sensor or its wiring may be faulty. If the computer thinks the engine is still cold when it is warm, it will provide an overly rich mixture and excess idle air bypass. So check the calibration resistance of the CTS and make sure the wiring is not open from the computer to the sensor. Second, an injector or the fuel pressure regulator may be leaking fuel into the intake manifold causing an over rich starting mixture. Putting a pressure gauge on the fuel system would diagnosis that. If the fuel pressure drops within seconds after the engine is shut off, you can suspect an injector or pressure regulator.

To help us with the diagnosis, how does the engine react to a ‘flood clear’? Has the gas mileage gone down? Is the Check Engine light ‘on’? Have you scanned the computer for codes? If so what codes are coming up?

Hope that helps

You guys are the greatest! Thanks.