Hard Starting Tacoma


I have a '95 Toyota Tacoma with a 2.7L engine and with 90000 miles. It has been difficult to start, and the problem seems to be growing in more ways that one! Details follow:

About a year or two and 10-15000 miles ago, I started to have problems starting the truck when both the motor and the weather were hot (temps of 85 degrees or more).

* When turning the key, it was as though there was no gas going to the plugs, or too much gas; I couldn?t tell which.

* After about ten or fifteen minutes, the truck would hesitantly start (maybe shudder a little, and barely fire up a few times); by that time, I definitely could smell gas.

* I noticed that the problem was lessened when it was raining.

* Traveling on a long trip, when I stopped for gas it would be hard to start but on a subsequent stop, after it had started to rain, there was no hard-starting problem.

I took it to one Toyota garage and they didn?t find the source. They couldn’t get it to act up. In later discussions with another garage, they suggested that it might be vapor lock, and to try changing the plugs, wires, cap, rotor, and condenser, which I did (using Toyota parts). It hasn?t been hot enough since to see whether that worked (but I have my doubts).

However, another problem has been developing which may or may not be related.

* When I try to start the truck, the starter motor (or starter switch) just clicks one time but the motor fails to turn over.

* Turn the key, hear a click, and nothing more happens.

* If you turn the key off and on, perhaps several times, it eventually engages the starter and the motor starts.

I thought that it was probably the key, so I lubed the keyway with WD40. That didn?t work.

I also thought that it might be the clutch safety switch, because if you pump the clutch pedal, it also seems to have some effect on getting it to engage.

One strange thing – that happened only one time – was that the starter engaged and the motor started, but the starter failed to disengage; I actually turned off the key to get the thing to stop, but the starter just kept cranking (the motor stopped, however). Last night when I went to school and today when I went to take it to the garage to be checked out, it started right up first time, no clicks at all. Curiously, the weather has turned cooler and was it was raining. So, instead of wasting another $150 for a diagnostic that leads nowhere, I opted to cancel the appointment and wait for the weather to turn. (The other option is to move somewhere cool and rainy, and so take care of the problem(s). But I’m kind of bound to school for another couple of years, so I’d rather get it fixed, if possible.)

Sorry if the note’s a little long, but I wanted to give you everything I know. If anyone has heard of these problems, I’d appreciate hearing from you. This thing has got me stumped all around at this point.

Mike S.


What you think is too much info is usually closer to what we need to help.

I suspect your problems (all seem to pertain to non-starting) are because of a bad starter relay.

Unless there are poor cable connections somewhere, another possibility may be a heat soaked starter.
Some (not many) starters can soak up heat from the engine and as such break down.

In these instances, a heat shield has to be inserted between the starter and the engine.


What this means then is that I still have two separate problems, one with the starter and a mystery problem with either the fuel or electrical system that keeps the truck from starting when hot. The starter issue could have developed because of the increased use when the truck won’t start.

I like your answer with the starter relay, and I’ll look into it. The heat shield would be my second choice (seems harder to do). Thanks for the input.

Mike S.