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Help Diagnose No Start in 1993 Corolla!


I have a 93 Corolla that won’t start. Here was the approximate sequence of events:

Car had been sitting for about 1 week
Went to start it and no cranking sound occurred. I tried repeatedly and heard an occasional click and the dash warning lights would vary in brightness from full bright to very dim.
Got my friend to give me a jump start and it cranked/started on the first attempt.
Drove around for about 20 minutes to recharge the battery.
When I got home I turned the car off and made another attempt and … nothing. No cranking sound, just a click.
So I tried again and all of a sudden it started IMMEDIATELY (first crank)!
So I turned it off again, and now every subsequent attempt just causes a lot of clicking, and the dash lights come on but vary a great deal in terms of how bright they are.

So… I’m thinking it can’t be the battery. If it was the battery that wouldn’t explain why it started immediately following not starting. Seems strange that the jump worked, but perhaps that was just a lucky attempt.

What do you think? Bad ignition switch? Anything else I can test?


I bet it’s the starter solenoid contacts, this is a common problem with Toyotas. When’s the last time the starter was replaced? If you or your mechanic want to save you some money, you can pull the starter, take the solenoid off, and replace the two side and center (round) contact. Google ‘Toyota starter solenoid’ for more info.

As far as I know the starter has never been replaced (the car only has 103k miles)

Mine went out at about 10 years and 100k miles. Yours is due.

But make sure it’s not loose or corroded connection to the battery or a bad cable.

I just tried another 3 jump starts and it started up immediately all three times. And then I I tried it without the jump and it wouldn’t even crank. Hmmm… perhaps it’s the battery afterall! Or the charging system? Any easy way to narrow this down? I have a voltmeter.

How old’s the battery? You could drive to a car parts store and have them test the battery (it takes more than a voltmeter).

Looks like my mechanic replaced it in Jan 2009.

So this doesn’t work?

If you haven’t cleaned the battery connections using a battery post clening brush I suggest you do that. I think you just have battery connections causing the trouble.

With a 2 year old battery and clean connections my bet’s on the 18-year-old solenoid.

At first glance, since it always starts when jumped, I would pull the battery cables and clean the terminals. If your mechanic didn’t use some type of battery terminal protectant, they probably need attention.

The solenoid would be my next choice as well. I have seen the condition where the solenoid contacts are burned just enough to block 12.6v from the battery but allow the 14.2v from jumper cables attached to a running vehicle to energize it. If this is the case, within a few days, you won’t be able to jump it either.

That’s exactly what happened to me, Keith.

Since it always starts immediately when jumped, my money’s on the battery (or its connections) or the alternator. It’s possible that the alternator was putting out enough juice to run, but not to charge the battery.

The good news is that the battery and charging system can easily be checked by any parts store and many will do it free of charge. I’d start there.

texases, happened to me once too.

Turned out it was the battery! Charging system fine, but battery (2.5 year old AC Delco) was completely toast. Thanks for the help.

That’s good news. At least you got 2.5 years out of it. My history with AC Delcos has not been great, two died like that on our Chevy.

Thanks for posting back. I’m glad it was something simple.