Starter needed help to turn on 2003 Toyota Camry LE

My 2003 Toyota Camry LE has been running fine. Recently I parked the car somewhere for about 5 minutes and when I returned the car would not start, i.e. when I turned the key in the ignition the engine would not engage. I called the tow truck. The tow truck driver takes a look and tells me that she can hear the engine trying to kick in. She thinks the battery is fine, the alternator is fine etc. etc. So she pops the hood, takes a long metal rod, places it on the starter and gives it a couple of gentle taps. Then she asks me to start the car. I do and it works. She tells me that the starter was stuck and that what she did freed it up. The car runs okay now but I am concerned as to whether this could be a sign of things to come. Should I take my car in the get the starter looked at or maybe replaced? The dealer says that a new starter will run me 350 bucks but also said that I don’t need to come in unless it happens again. What does the community think? Do I have a problem or was it a one off thing that I can ignore for now? And I don’t know if its important or not but the weather here has been starting to get colder lately. Could that be responsible in any way? I have about 81000 miles on this car.

More than likely the brushes in the starter are worn out.

When they tapped on the starter it caused the brushes to make better contact with the slip ring which allowed the starter to operate.

If this is the orginal starter in the vehicle, after ten years it’s due for replacement.


The starter could be fine for a few days, weeks, year(s) - but eventually this will happen again.; It is up to you to decide to replace the starter now, or save a few bucks and see how long it takes before you go through this again. You can price a replacement starter from an independent shop to see if the dealer price is reasonable. At some point you will need a new starter.

Toyota starters are known to do this after 10 year or so. The solenoid contacts wear down, resulting in an intermittent ‘no start’ condition. You can either replace the whole starter, or get a set of replacement solenoid contacts at the Toyota parts department ($20 or so) and replace them.

This assumes the cables are good, that clamps clean and tight, etc…

(this happened twice to my Toyota)


I have been driving Toyotas for years

Toyotas use Denso starters, which tend to go out every few years

On my previous car, a 1995 Corolla, I replaced the starter twice

If a starter has to be whacked to work, it’s time to replace it

Replace the starter now

It would be unfortunate if you get stranded in the bad part of town

Replace it now, or replace it later after a tow, and hopefully it doesn’t leave you stranded. As mentioned above, very common on Toyotas for the contacts to wear out over time. Save yourself a breakdown, replace it, and be on the road for another 10 years. And check your battery at least twice a year. that’s not the issue, but importatnt as always. Cheers.

I went online and saw that you can get a remanufactured starter from less than $70 or a new original equipment one for about $130. And there is a You Tube video that shows how to replace it.

What? Online Chinese starters are cheap?

These are your best choices, in my opinion, provided you install it yourself

Another Denso starter

A starter with a lifetime warranty . . . as long as you have the receipt

I have a 94 camry and have had this exact issue for the past 11 months- however during the summer months my car ALWAYS started. I replaced the starter in Feb and continued to have this issue on and off so I had it replaced again in April thinking I received a bad starter and the issue continued with the second brand new starter! I’ve taken it to two mechanic shops and none of them can figure out the issue. HELP

rachtho, you already have your own thread for your problem. You are hijacking someone else’s thread.

I solved the problem of my starter on my 1993 Toyota Camry intermittently failing to operate by scraping the white powdery build-up from the mounting surfaces. After talking to people in parts stores and repair shops, I collected enough clues to convince me to remove the starter and try to fix it myself. The solenoid and pinion assembly were so simple, I couldn’t imagine why it wouldn’t work, that is until I spotted the powdery corrosion on the machined mounting surfaces of the starter and engine. I scraped the crud away with a screwdriver and reinstalled the starter. It’s been starting perfectly for the approximately ten years since then. I suspect this is the reason you can temporarily put off this problem by rapping the starter with a steel rod or a cut-off hockey stick.