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Starter problem

about a year ago, my 1999 Camry (6 cylander) started making that awful noise a car makes when you turn the starter and the engine’s already on. It would do this every once in a while. I’d try again and it’d start okay. About 6 mobths ago it started, occasionally, to make that noice twice before starting. Three questions: 1) what’s the problem? 2) will it be expensive to fix? 3) My wife and I are planning a driving trip to Nova Scotia in late July. Is this something I should worry about and get fixed before the trip? Thanks, guys.

It’s called the Bendix (part of the starter). You will need the starter replaced. I would get it fixed. It’s not going to hurt the car any further…but it may leave you stranded. As for cost…Not sure on this vehicle. Expect to pay a couple hundred or more. DON’T go to the dealer. Take it to an independent and have them put in a rebuilt starter. It will be far cheaper and just as good as a new OEM starter.

Have a nice trip to Nova Scotia. Taking the ferry from Portland or the Cat from Bar Harbor…or driving???

Something is causing the starter to engage when it’s not supposed to. It could be the ignition switch (how many keys are on your ring?) or the starter relay or solenoid. You risk destroying the starter and damaging the flywheel (a.k.a. flexplate). Get it fixed, or you risk getting stranded with an expensive repair on your hands, far from home.

Bo, if I read this correctly the OP has the problem only when he’s trying to start the engine. This would indicate not a problem with the ignition switch, but as Mike suggests, the starter drive.

OP, the starter bendix is the part that engages the starter motor to the engine’s flywheel (or flexplate). It is a replaceable part of the starter. If you can find someone knowledgeable, they can remove and repair your starter. Ultimately the bendix will probably fail and leave you unable to start your engine. If it were me I’d get it fixed before going on any long trips.

Thanks, Mike, Bo & Jay. I guess I’d better add a few $$$ onto my travel budget and get the starter fixed before we head north. Tony