Intermittant Starter Problem

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Jan 9, 2022
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Plano, TX
I recently rebuilt the 1FZFE engine in my 1995 land cruiser. Prior to the rebuild, the vehicle sat for a year. Just prior to pulling the engine, the starter was acting as if it was weak even with a new battery. It would only engage the flywheel and turn over the engine one in twenty attempts to start. I eventually bench-tested the starter and it seemed fine. I recognize that bench testing is limited and doesn't really test under load. I replaced the starter as part of the rebuild with a reman starter. The new starter bench tests successfully but exhibits the same symptoms as the original. It is very intermittent and largely not functional. Again, the battery is new and fully charged and there is 12.6V present measured both at the battery terminals and at the starter. I'm at a loss how to troubleshoot this further other than replacing the starter wiring and/or buying a 3rd starter. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

20220818_215625.jpg
 
Joined
Mar 25, 2018
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Winnipeg, Manitoba
Are you getting a click but no crank or just weak cranking power? If your hearing a loud click but, the starter does nothing I chased a similar starting problem for several months. Went through ~5 starters (new and rebuilds), and a brand new battery before I had a external starter solenoid installed and BAM no more starting problems.
 
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I'm largely getting a click but no crank. Sometimes I get a whirring noise like the starter is spinning but the gear is not engaging the flywheel. Again, If I pull the starter and bench test it with the same battery and jumper cables, the gear fully extends and the starter spins. There is zero intermittent behavior on the bench. It seems that I'm down to a bad ground, bad cables, or a bad ignition switch. I've ordered all of these and should have more to report in a few days.
 
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I'm largely getting a click but no crank. Sometimes I get a whirring noise like the starter is spinning but the gear is not engaging the flywheel. Again, If I pull the starter and bench test it with the same battery and jumper cables, the gear fully extends and the starter spins. There is zero intermittent behavior on the bench. It seems that I'm down to a bad ground, bad cables, or a bad ignition switch. I've ordered all of these and should have more to report in a few days.
+1 on loose grounding. Check the connections to the chassis. The bolt might have worked itself loose.
 
Joined
Jul 4, 2020
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193
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Raleigh, NC
Similar experience here. Went thru 3 starters, an ignition switch, battery. But stullt would get the occasional "click" or a grind like the starter plunger wasn't fully engaging- I think the latter would occur after I drained down the battery too much trying to turn it over. 30 mins later, and everything would work as expected.

I added a jumper button with a power cutoff and no more trouble starting when the issue would arise
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Joined
Apr 19, 2020
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Sequim, WA
I’ve been having this problem since I bought my 80. randomly it will take multiple turns on the key to get it to crank but when it does crank it has no problem starting. I carry a starter rebuild kit for the 80 with me just in case however haven’t needed it yet. The tests I’ve done it seems to come down to the key switch as the culprit due to all bench tests on the starter have been fine. if becomes more prominent I will do more thorough testing before winter hits. I’ve noticed it usually occurred after I drive and vehicle is warm. So thats why I initially thought it was the starter i will update this to let you know what I find.
 
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There are 100s of threads regarding this.
A click/no start is likely starter contacts.
The "click" or "thunk" is the starter solenoid pulling in. that tells you that all starter logic is working correctly from the battery to the fusible link to the fuse to the NSS to the starter solenoid.
The contacts and plunger need to be replaced. Carrying them around in the truck will do no good. You actually need to replace the parts.
Again, 100s of threads regarding this and the proper way to do it.
 
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New Idria 95043
Check your grounds, I had a similar issue. it was the battery ground cable at the terminal. the strands were loose and frayed causing corrosion to accumulate under the wire jacket, I flushed it out with battery corrosion cleaner.
 

93yotasr5

Molon Labe
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Oct 15, 2010
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sacramento, ca
I am having the same issue. I have replaced the ignition switch, two starters, one battery and seems to have gotten worse this summer. Today I replaced the positive cable from the battery to the starter but that still hasn’t solved the issue. I’m going to check out my grounds next.
 
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There are 100s of threads regarding this.
A click/no start is likely starter contacts.
The "click" or "thunk" is the starter solenoid pulling in. that tells you that all starter logic is working correctly from the battery to the fusible link to the fuse to the NSS to the starter solenoid.
The contacts and plunger need to be replaced. Carrying them around in the truck will do no good. You actually need to replace the parts.
Again, 100s of threads regarding this and the proper way to do it.
but that's not exactly true.... sometimes there are other issues such as ignition, faulty wire or ground.
 
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Florida
Believe it or not, its could be the fusible link. I chased it all over the place and somebody said replace the fusible link, and carry a spare. It worked, and I have since replaced the fusible link again and carry two spares. By the way, it still doesn't make sense to me but it works.
 
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but that's not exactly true.... sometimes there are other issues such as ignition, faulty wire or ground.
Not if the starter solenoid is pulling in. If the solenoid pulls in, then all starter logic is working as it should be. That is from the battery, fusible link AM1, fuse AM1, ignition switch, NSS, starter solenoid. If ANY of those were faulty, the solenoid would not pull in.
 
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Jun 22, 2020
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Florida
Yeah, you're right. My solenoid wasn't coming in. ( I think, my 100 series has a weird start problem too so I get them confused). But I've gotten superstitious about this fusible link thing. Anything goes wrong, I replace it. It always seems to work.
 
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So Jonheld you've helped me a lot in the past and I respect your knowledge. As I said, I don't understand the fusible link problem as they can look good and still be a problem, as evidenced by the shortage of them. Do you think there could be something that causes a higher resistance in the link that causes intermittent starts, but the link hasn't totally failed ?
 
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So Jonheld you've helped me a lot in the past and I respect your knowledge. As I said, I don't understand the fusible link problem as they can look good and still be a problem, as evidenced by the shortage of them. Do you think there could be something that causes a higher resistance in the link that causes intermittent starts, but the link hasn't totally failed ?
First of all, there is no shortage of OEM fusible links.
And what they look like on the outside is not a validation of how they function. The outside jacket is flame proof silicone and won't show marks or burns.
The proper way to test is with a meter.
 

Cruiser804

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Mar 11, 2006
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Have same issue. You'd think if you're getting 12v at the starter lug and 12v at the solenoid connection when you turn the key and the starter doesn't engage, the starters bad.

I have two starters. I'm on my second rebuild. Haven't installed the newly rebuilt one. But this time, I pulled the starter apart, checked the bearings, greased them and cleaned the comutator or whatever its called (the copper thingy) and the 4 contacts. I'll report back after I install it and 2 years have passed. Because I have zero confidence this will fix anything.
 

Cruiser804

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The innerards. 2 screws, two bolts. Bit of a pain to get the the 4 contacts back over the copper thingy. Used a socket to give me an extra pair of hands.

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The circuit feeding the starter solenoid has to go through all of these steps:

Screenshot_20220914_082934.jpg


That's quite a bit of wire, many terminal connections, and the Neutral Safety Switch. Mild corrosion over the years can lead to resistance that prevents sufficient current. De-Oxit and silicone dielectric grease are your friends.

When replacing the contacts, you're supposed to press them down with over 200 pounds of force and then tighten down the nuts:

Screenshot_20220914_084704.jpg


I believe that the contacts in my rebuilt Denso weren't pressed down according to the FSM when they were installed, because they were worn very unevenly. Additionally, the lip around the plunger that bridges the contacts was *extremely* thin compared to a brand new Toyota plunger, which seemed like unlikely wear for a fairly new starter. Edit: I mixed up the timeline. It was around a year between installing the reman Denso starter and the first time I had a no-start condition. It was very intermittent and was fixed every time with a light smack on the end of the starter housing with a hammer. The frequency of no-start events increased and I finally replaced the contacts around March 2021 with a Dorman kit I had laying. I got around to installing a new Toyota plunger around February 2022. So, the plunger wear wasn't excessive, but I still think that the contacts weren't seated according to the FSM when it was remanufactured.
 
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gummy carbs that's kind of what I was referring too. I thought that any degradation of wires or connections from the battery to the starter could affect its ability to start. You still might get a click but there's not enough voltage being supplied to actually trigger the starter?! Sorry, been off mud for a while playing with sailboats, so my cruiser skills are a little rusty.
 

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