The last few mornings my 96 Toyota Camry, 4cylinder manual transmission, has had trouble starting. When I turn the key, the lights, radio, etc come on, but there is nothing turning engine-wise. After a few times it starts. Is this the starter, the alternator, or something else?


Not necessarily. Once you get your car started, take it to Autozone or Advance Auto and see if they will run a charging system test for you while the car is running. That will isolate whether the problem is battery, alternator or something else.

Based on your description of the problem, I would not conclude the starter is bad, until I tested the charging system first.


The problem could be due to several things. It does sound like the battery is ok since it does start when things are working correctly.

I would first clean the battery connections, even if they look ok, since a problem there could cause this trouble. If that doesn’t clear the trouble then check to see if the small ignition wire going to the starter solenoid is getting 12 volts when the trouble occurs. If that is ok then may sure 12 volts is getting to the starter when the solenoid is switching. If that is ok and it still doesn’t work then replace the starter.


out of curiosity, and to make others think outside the box:
do you have a whole buunch of keys on your key chain?

i had this problem years ago, when i had a large brass clip, and about 50 keys dangling off the key ring. the constant weight of the keys and brass clip wore out the lock assembly, and it would sporadically not ‘connect’ the starter when i turned the key. the lights and all woudl come on, but no starter!

if you find wiggling the key in the ignition has something to do with the ability to start, have the actual key switch checked out too.


Most ignition switches are separate from the ignition key lock cylinder. The lock cylinder turms, or pushes, a rod which moves the ignition switch which makes the wire connections (“switches”). ---- To turn the starter, electrical power (12 volts) comes from a fuse, goes through the ignition switch (hopefully), goes through the park/neutral switch, and to the starter solenoid. ----- To see if that power is going to the starter solenoid, disconnect the little wire on the starter solenoid, use a voltmeter and see if 12 volts is present when someone HOLDS the ignition key to START. If moe voltage, move back to the park/neutral switch, amid themst to the ignition switch…


My computer has a keystroke virus. Edit:…if the voltage is zero, measure the voltage back to the park/neutral switch, and back to the ignition switch. If the voltage is lower than the battery voltage, there is a resistance ----- maybe a switch (possibly a connection).