Pickup won't start, starter inert, I hear a click

I went out at 5:30 AM for a trip to the home store, trying to beat the heat. It wouldn’t start. The battery tests okay, the dashboard lights are bright, the radio loud (turned on just for the test), windshield wipers work when I mistakenly hit its lever. I hear a click, but it sounds like it’s coming from the passenger side, whereas the solenoid is on the driver’s side (right? on the starter?). Is there a different click I could have heard? I hear nothing from the starter. I’m too frail to chance push-starting it myself, as I used to do.

I’ve driven 19 times this year, even purchased gasoline! I’ve gotten it to start without too much fuss.

IIRC my 1979 Toyota 4X4, the starter was on the vehicle’s right side. The solenoid was built into it. And there was a relay somewhere in the dash or kick panels that clicked when turning the key.

At least once on a Toyota starter (Denso brand, I believe) I had to clean up the contacts inside the solenoid and on the disc that rides on a plunger. For now, put a rod or sturdy stick on the starter and hit it with a mallet, then try. Good luck!

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A very fast click heard in the dash area everytime you want to start your vehicule means that your battery is discharged.Most accessory dash lights will be ON . A worned starter on the other hand will emit no noise when you turn the key but sometimes you could be lucky and the vehicule starts.It can work erratically for a while until it dies on you.There are kits available on E-bay to replace the copper contacts and plunger found inside the solonoid of your Denso starter. Its a very cheap and fast repair compared to buying a new starter.

Right from which aspect? Passenger’s side or driver’s side? Neither my Haynes or my Chilton shows the starter in a diagram. High or low?

Right and left from the POV of the person driving. So when you are in front looking at the engine compartment, the things on your left are on the vehicle’s right. That’s where the starter motor is, IIRC. Follow the fattest wire from your battery’s positive terminal. It goes to the starter.

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About how many miles on the starter? While I would check the battery and the battery connections, and try starting in neutral, this sounds like it could be the worn Toyota starter solenoid contacts problem mentioned above. Mine needed replacing at about 100k miles.

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151,682.5 . It’s an '87 2WD. It’s the original starter.

I always start in neutral.

I finally found it. I have never worked on a starter before, didn’t understand how they work. It’s towards the rear of the engine compartment, near the firewall, on the passenger’s side. It looks okay :smile:. I can’t see or feel a solenoid, so it must be built in.

Must I work on it from underneath? I get dizzy, then sick, when I lie down. (I sleep sitting up.) I don’t know that I can deal with this, especially in this heat.

You first want to know the battery is good and strong and the connections there are clean and secure. That much you can do standing up. Do you have another vehicle, or charged battery, that you can connect to the truck’s battery for a boost?

I test it with a voltmeter and a hydrometer.

No. Back when my old battery was declining in health, and I was in denial, I bought a battery booster, but its battery eventually wore out.

If the battery is strong and its connections OK, when you (or helper) turn the key to Start, if you listen and feel carefully there should be some sound and maybe vibration in the starter. The solenoid should make a rod move toward the back end. If that’s not happening, the ignition switch could be at fault.

In functioning starter/solenoid assembly, that rod has a metal disc on its end. That disc touches two copper contacts, which completes the circuit, and makes the starter motor run. That rod with the disc is sometimes called a plunger.

I hear a click, which, now that I know where the starter is, could be its solenoid. Everything else electrical works well. Could the ignition switch work for them but not the starter?

If the click you hear is from starter/solenoid, that means it needs work. Make sure that’s where the click is coming from. There may also be a click from the dashboard and/or kick panels.

Have you tried banging on the starter with a 2X4 or something? Sometimes that’s enough the jiggle the innards just enough to complete the circuit and run the starter motor.

Yes, but I slept too late this morning to make a trip. We’re having record heat, which is dangerous in Albuquerque but pleasant in Duluth.

If the clicking you are hearing is pretty loud and coming from the starter solenoid, which is most likely built onto the starter motor, then the trouble is most likely due to worn out solenoid contacts. The contacts have to handle the high current needed by the starter motor and wear out over time. So when that happens all you hear is the click from the solenoid closing but the starter can’t run like it should due to the high resistance of the worn out contacts. You can replace the contacts but it is most likely a better choice to replace the whole starter with a re-manufactured one.

In light of the effort required to get it off, I plan to replace the whole thing rather than try to fix it then be disappointed if the repair doesn’t last. Why re-manufactured? The Zone of Auto has new and re-man. I’m aiming at new, at about $100 more.

I can get a 1.4 kW or 1 kW. Would a 1.4 work better? Does it require a larger battery? It’s only $15 more.

You might also consider having a auto electric shop repair your Toyota OEM starter - probably Denso brand. I am wary of what’s on the aftermarket, as to quality of new non-Toyota starters, and the quality of the “re-manufactured” stuff. I think the chances are better to have the Toyota-supplied starter fixed by a competent auto electric shop. They’ll know it inside and out and know just what to do.

That said, I did buy a rebuilt Denso starter for my minivan once, and it worked out fine. Good luck whichever way you go!

Its better to replace the contacts and plunger on your original Denso starter because reman units are sometimes bad right out of the box.It takes 10 minutes to replace them and it will probably last the life of the car.The kit sold on E-bay cost around $10

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If you remove the starter and take it to Autozone, they will test it for you. I did that with my 1998 Buick and found out it was OK.

After 150,000 miles, if I take out the starter I’m replacing the solenoid contacts no matter the results of a test.

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Re-manufactured units are supposed to be totally refurbished like a new unit would be except they have been in service before. Check the warranty between used and new. You may save yourself a fair amount of money over a new unit.

The 1.4kw unit will draw more power from the battery but I don’t think you need to change the battery out. I’m not sure if you really need the extra cranking power or not but it may help out. The price difference isn’t much between the two.