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Turned ignition - nothing happened

As I was leaving work last week, I turned the key in the ignition and NOTHING HAPPENED! When I tried again, it worked. Since then, no problem. However, today, as I came out of the supermarket 8 miles away, I turned the key in the ignition and again NOTHING HAPPENED. Waited a few seconds, tried again, it started. Does anyone have any idea what this might be and how much it might cost?

Thanks, airie32

Make, model, year, miles, auto/manual? A little more info would be helpful.

The next time this happens, try jiggling the shift lever or shift to neutral to start the car. This could be a neutral safety switch acting up.

How old is the battery? Do the terminals need to be cleaned and tightened up?

Dash lights illuminate when this happens? Radio come on? Any clicking noises?

You’ll have to do better than “NOTHING HAPPENED”.

Some mention of what kind of motorcycle / tractor / aircraft / automobile this is might be of use as well.

When you experience turning the key and nothing happens but you are eventualy able to get the car to start you were just given a second chance to get your car fixed before you get stuck. You can’t put a “turn key and hothing happened” experience in the “Oh well” file and just go on with your business.

Sorry, folks. I was rattled. I wish I could say it’s a tractor or an airplane, but it’s a '96 Toyota Corolla. I don’t believe any lights came on on the dashboard. Or any clicking noises. It was like it was plain old dead . . and then two seconds later I’m driving away trying to pretend it didn’t happen.

I’ll have to think about the age of the battery, but when it does start, it starts right up.

Thanks for any help, airie32

Replace the ignition switch.

It could be the ignition switch. It could be the starter relay (if used). It could be other stuff, too. The starter relay is cheapest (if used). Swap it with another relay in the relay box under the hood. Some of the relays are the same type.

Your car is the right make and year to have the common ‘Toyota starter contacts’ problem. In the starter are 3 contacts that slowly wear, and when they get old (worn) enough they cause exactly the symptoms you’re showing. Do you have a trusted mechanic? Replacing the contacts is a simple matter (replacement parts cost about $20-$30, get all three), the hardest part is the removal of the starter.

Second to texases. Toyota starters commonly have this problem at around 90k miles. If you continue, eventually it will be 2 or 3 turns to get a crank, then later there will be no crank at all.

I’m replying to the last post, but thanks to everyone for taking the time to answer. There is a local mechanic that is highly recommended on this website, so I’ll call him asap with your suggestions. I’ll let you know. Kind of like “stump the chumps.”

Best regards, airie 32


I just wanted to let everyone who responded know how this turned out. I found a great local mechanic. They cleaned the battery ends and replaced the positive battery terminal. So far, no further problem. They said they couldn’t be sure that was the problem, since they couldn’t duplicate it. So it makes sense to me as a place to start. They gave me their tow track number, just in case. Cost: a mere $41, plus I made it to work by 9:30 = happy boss. Thanks again for everyone’s replies.