99 prizm/corolla 90k mi, will start fine for several weeks then click once when i turn the key, turn the key off and back on and it starts right up. this has been going on for a couple months. its so random that i wonder what the cause is why does it work fine for several weeks then click a couple times in one week and then go two more weeks without a problem. it also seems to happen mainly in the morning or if the car has been sitting for several hours. my mechanic says its the starter but if it was the starter wouldn’t be be getting worse??
It most likely is the contacts in the solenoid of the starter. This is a classic problem with Toyota starters. As the contacts wear down, you will progress from intermittant no cranks to needing multiple key turns to get a crank to final no cranks at all. Although having the contacts replaced will cure the problem, most shops just R&R the starter and have done with it.
I agree 100% with Researcher on all points. And if you don’t change it, it will get worse. The good news is that even though my friend’s '95 Corolla is on the third starter assembly (at over 200,000 miles) it’s still running great otherwise.
The really old Corollas used to have a ground wire connected to a painted firewall and you used to have to scrape the paint off the firewall to get metal to metal contact. The ground is in a much better spot now but could be loose or dirty. Not the same thing these days but a small maybe.
I had an intermittent problem just like this in my Subaru. It’d start repeatedly, then after sitting overnight or a few hours, it wouldn’t start. After numerous times of getting extremely angry, I replaced the starter. It tested ok on the bench, but not in the car. I figured it was just not working under stress. It would always click, and the battery was powering everything else the car fine.
The problem was a loose connection for the starter cable to the battery clamp. The starter has one wire connected to your ignition, which activates a relay, and another which supplies the REAL power and is continuously connected to the battery. The loose connection wasn’t allowing the full flow of voltage to actually turn the engine. The click you hear is the gear sliding into position.