1991 FJ80 3FE not starting (or clicking, or cranking)

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Back story: Replaced starter with OE a year or so ago, before then had the click-but-no-start problem with the solenoid. Had to whack the thing with a hammer to start it, but have been Toyota reliable since replacing the starter. When I replaced the starter I put a huge fat battery cable in there too and re-did all the grounds with overkill.

FJ80 saved my bacon and got me into work (Emergency Management) during the flooding we had in Texas around Memorial Day. I drove it to work and back, no problems, water about up to the headlights at the deepest part: Slow and steady through the 36"+ flood, then 20 miles of highway driving. Truck sat in the parking lot for 12 hours, then started right up and got me home: 20 miles of highway, 2 miles of 8" water at that point. A couple days later moved it in the driveway and parked it. A couple days later :princess: said it wouldn't start, and I verified.


Symptoms: Insert the key and turn to ON, all electronics work perfectly. Battery gauge reads just above mid-point and voltmeter confirms +/- 12v at the starter. Turn key and voltage drops, relays click, but no solenoid click, no starter spin, no engine cranking. Moved gear selector to N and get the same thing. When I try to start with the gear selector in anything but P or N, I get the same silent treatment, but without the voltage drop and relay clicks. (I think this rules out the NSS?)

I checked the battery main voltage (about 12v), voltage at the starter (about 12v), and the ground (.1-.8 ohm).

I checked all the fuses, none blown, all in-place and to spec.

I'm suspicious of my ignition switch, but not sure how to go about testing that.

What am I missing here? :bang:
 
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First guess would be fusible links off the positive battery terminal. Easy enough to check with a meter. See if you're getting +12 to the starter logic when you try to crank. Starter logic circuit is very simple. Battery, fusible link, main fuse, ignition switch, NSS, starter. Not a whole lot going on.

I just re-read your post. You said you were getting +12 to the starter. Is that starter logic side or solenoid side?
 
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Okay, battery voltage exactly?

Battery voltage at starter exactlty?

Above 12.4 at least? Okay.

Place lead of Digital Multi Meter on a good ground and + lead on the ign terminal side of the starter relay, should read 0, have someone turn key to run. Do you get voltage? If no, check to see you have voltage to the ign switch, if yes, check that when you turn key over you have voltage through the switch. You may need to consult wiring diagrams and pull apart the column to check. If you have voltage there, follow diagrams to see if it goes through a starter relay under the dash before going to your starter solenoid, and of course safety interlocks like the NSS. If you DO have voltage to ign terminal of starter solenoid, continue.

Use DMM to check batt voltage while having someone crank or attempt to crank. Read better than ~10v? Okay.

Place positive lead of DMM on battery + and negative lead on hot side of starter, have someone crank. This is a voltage drop test, we don't want to see more than about .3 volts roughly while cranking or attempting to crank. Do same on negative side, DMM to Negative post and starter casing. Seeing more than .3 volts check connections and cables.

At this point you should have found your problem.
 
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I'd almost bet on shorted battery though, you may just go have the battery load tested first, I mean with an actual carbon load pile, as long as your battery is above 12.4 volts as confirmed by your DMM. I'm not a big fan of the conductance testers...

I should have asked how old is the batt and do the lights dim significantly when you try and crank it over?

My suggestion to measure the voltage of the batt while cranking or trying to crank is kind of a low tech load test, but you may just go get it tested. Sometimes batteries just short out internally and while they may read 12.4+ volts and your lights may work, trying to put any real draw on them reveals they're dead and you'll see your volts fall to nothing.

Load test is usually a load equal to 1/2 CCA for 15 secs at 12.4 volts (at least) should not fall below 9.6 volts, this changes slightly by temperature but for normal temps this should hold true.
 
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LS1FJ40

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@LoneStarCruiser, Nobody knows the 3FE better than @jonheld. Period. Follow his directions and you will have this problem solved in no time. I've seen this play out numerous times. Do as he says. Follow his directions. Step by step. And this will be taken care of.

After you get this figured out, peruse through his website and his posts here on Mud. He may now have a Creampuff LX in addition to his 92 but he's as good as they come when it comes to the 3FE motor and all the other electrical stuff on our 80s.
 
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Well, that's really just one part of the starting circuit. But at least you know what path it follows and what to check. My bad on the starter relay.
 
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Well, that's really just one part of the starting circuit. But at least you know what path it follows and what to check. My bad on the starter relay.
I'm not sure what you mean by "one part of the starting circuit". The starter logic side is as I stated. The load side of the solenoid is a direct connection to the positive battery terminal and the ground path for both logic and load is through the mounting of the starter to the bellhousing. There is nothing else in this circuit.
 
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Yeah it's as I stated. You're wrong to ignore everything else on the presumption that it may have "12 volts" and that that is all there is to it.

Batteries can have 12.4+ volts and when a significant load is applied they drop off to nothing.

Cables and grounds can read 12.4+ volts and not be able to conduct any real amperage.

So yes theres more than a ign circuit to consider when troublshooting and yes these components are no more complicated than the ign side but they still all need to function. These checks are easy and take no time. Why not start with the battery?

And yes it very well could just be the ign side and nothing else.
 
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First guess would be fusible links off the positive battery terminal. Easy enough to check with a meter. See if you're getting +12 to the starter logic when you try to crank. Starter logic circuit is very simple. Battery, fusible link, main fuse, ignition switch, NSS, starter. Not a whole lot going on.

I just re-read your post. You said you were getting +12 to the starter. Is that starter logic side or solenoid side?
 
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Thank you for this post. My 91 LC was fine when I turned off last time and then wouldn’t start.

Low voltage things came on like lights radio etc but no clicks or turn at all. I had been keeping the old battery alive on a trickle charger. So first thing I did was try to jump it. Nothing. Took battery to auto parts store and I knew it would say needed replaced. Got a new one at Costco for $99. Needed to be done anyways.

I did light probe test starting with battery then moved to voltage meter. I was thinking it was the 3 way fuse but it was fine. Tested the starter wire and didn’t get any reading.

I then started looking for starter relay and found this post. Decided to check the Park/Neutral and see if it was stuck. Moved it in and out of Park and Neutral and let it roll down drive away a bit. Gave it a crank and it started right up.

So here is my question. Should I be concerned and what should I do?
 
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So here is my question. Should I be concerned and what should I do?
Should you be concerned if the truck doesn't start? Well, I suppose that depends. If you leave it in your garage or driveway, I wouldn't worry too much. But if you intend to drive it anywhere, I would consider looking into this.
 
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I got it to start. It was just the park/neutral that was keeping it from starting. Once I shifted from park to neutral a few times it turned over right away no problems. Took it for a few spins and parked today a couple of times and the problem didn’t come back.

What I was asking is how to I address the problem. Or should I since it’s only happened once?
 
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I got it to start. It was just the park/neutral that was keeping it from starting. Once I shifted from park to neutral a few times it turned over right away no problems. Took it for a few spins and parked today a couple of times and the problem didn’t come back.

What I was asking is how to I address the problem. Or should I since it’s only happened once?
Problems like this don't magically heal themselves. The NSS can be removed, disassembled, cleaned, and inspected. They are not available new anymore.
There are 2 or 3 tiny springs that keep the wiper pressed against the copper detail to make good contact. On mine, the springs had worn down and the wiper was not making good contact. It started out as an intermittent issue, and finally left me stranded on a Wednesday evening as I was picking up dinner.
 
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Should you be concerned if the truck doesn't start? Well, I suppose that depends. If you leave it in your garage or driveway, I wouldn't worry too much. But if you intend to drive it anywhere, I would consider looking into this.

On mine, [edit] it started out as an intermittent issue, and finally left me stranded on a Wednesday evening as I was picking up dinner.
Ah, the voice of experience. :lol: :)
 
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@jonheld Good to know. Where is it located and is this a pretty simple job. I'm a DIY guy, no mechanic.
The NSS is a pizza slice shaped item on the left side of the transmission housing. The transmission shifter goes through it and it is secured with a nut on the end of the transmission shifter and 2 small bolts. There is a wire harness that exits the top of the unit and terminates above the starter on the right side of the bell housing with 2 connectors, one round and one rectangular.

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