Problem with car starter?

Hi there,

Tried to start my car earlier today. Key in the ignition did nothing but produce a buzzing/humming noise. My neighbor came by to help and try and jump it but it didn’t work. I wasn’t surprised, as I replaced the battery last year. He thought it was likely a faulty starter. This is a 2005 Camry with about 208,000 miles and I don’t think the starter has ever been replaced.

I watched a couple videos online and looks like replacing the starter isn’t too hard, and I can order one here. Curious if this situation suggests anything else to folks, or if my plan to buy/install a new starter sounds like a good one. Thanks!

Take something like a baseball bat and give the starter a couple of good raps.

If the starter works, replace the starter.


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I’ll just add, turn the lights on to see if the battery is good. It would be better to pull the starter and have it checked first then buy it locally from a good supplier. Not Autozone. If you have to order it use a reliable source like rock auto not eBay or Amazon. YouTube is nice but again use a reliable source like a1 auto not Charlie in his back yard. But better to also refer to the repair manual. With the car not running, can you safely get under the car to work on it and do you have Jack stands to use?

Might just be worth the tow for a diagnosis and repair.

I’m guessing starter, do @Tester 's test. Mine went at 120k, ES300 (Camry based).

The copper contacts in the solenoid wear down. If you have an auto electric shop nearby, consider taking it to them for diagnosis, repair and testing. I would trust a well repaired Toyota original starter over much of what you’re likely to find in the aftermarket, new or rebuilt.

Ask your shop to measure the voltage at both terminals on the starter motor (thick wire, thin wire) with the key in “start”. Probe between terminal and starter case. Both should measure at least 10.5 volts. If they do, and the starter doesn’t crank the motor, replace the starter as it is likely (but not definitely) faulty. If either terminal measures below 10.5 volts, find out why.

My guess is the same as yours, w/200+ k miles on your Camry, the starter is probably the problem. No Camry experience, but I’ve replaced the starter on my Corolla several times. I wouldn’t say it is an easy job, considerably more difficult than an oil and filter change for example. But it is a job an experienced diy’er would probably be able to do in their driveway successfully. Once I figured out the easiest access is from the top (may not apply in your case), after that the biggest problem I had was faulty-out-of-the-box replacements from the parts store. Don’t minimize this risk, very common problem. Ways to mitigate

  • Hire an auto-electric shop to repair your current starter motor.
  • Purchase the replacement from a toyota dealership, either new or a rebuilt Toyota starter.
  • Purchase a rebuilt branded ( Toyota or Denso) unit from your parts store.

Also ask your vendor if they have a starter test fixture. If they do, ask them to test the replacement before you install it. Since your Camry presumably has an oem Toyota starter, suggest to keep it rather than turn it in for a core rebate. Then you’ll have a good quality backup, probably just needs to be repaired.