Need new Starter? Or is it something else? (After deep water crossings) (1 Viewer)

May 16, 2005
Houston, TX
2003 100 Series. 172k miles.
Lets see if maybe I need to check something else out before tearing down "half" of the engine in order to swap my starter.

2003 - 100 Series 169,000 miles.-

Edit: after drying the carpet with a hairdryer and letting the truck sit in the sun for 2 days, the open door light works properly now, but the starter has a "delay" when I turn the key,,. at first it does nothing but then, one or two seconds after I turn the key it starts spinning and engine starts.

Here are some details:

Our subdivision flooded considerably last week on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was out on the streets helping some stranded neighbors with water up to my headlights in places. No problem for the Hundy, but now the “door open” light on the dashboard is on. I figure something got wet and there is a short somewhere. On Thursday, (after no rain Wednesday night), the light was off and everything worked properly, but then I drove out and even though the streets are mostly dry (some small puddles and wet mud here and there), the light turned on again...
Any pointers on what got wet? What should I check?
More details:
- Passenger side carpet was wet (not drenched, but wet)... but upon lifting the carpet I discovered one of the plastic plugs on the drain holes to have come loose, so that’s where the water came in. (I've since replaced the plug and dried the carpet) I’m positive it did not come from the windshield, nor the sunroof drain (a-pillar) there is absolutely no traces of water or even moisture coming from there. Checked the the wiring loom by the passenger side floor and it was dry, but I hit it with a hair dryer for a while just in case.
I checked the door pressure switches by swapping them one by one into my daughter’s 4Runnner and they all work properly there. So that’s not it. But don’t know where the switch for the rear hatch is.
More symptoms:
- At one point Thursday, when I turned off the engine, the radio did not turn off and the steering wheel did not retract (this happened only once)...
- Today the starter begun to click once before it engages... I checked under the plastic cover and there are no signs of the water having gotten that high, but you never know. It is probably on it’s way out (already carried a spare with me on trips just in case)
- As of today (Friday) the open door light is sometimes on, sometimes off. No patterns I can identify, it’s just random.
- Alternator throws 13.47 and battery is at 12.8 so that looks normal

I figure there is some moisture in some electric component, but where?

Can the starter issue and door light be related? I have a new (remanufactured) Denso starter at hand, would have changed it already if one other member on the TLCA FB Page would not have suggested this might be a wet ECU issue?

Any ideas on what to check? The truck runs fine otherwise, has never skipped a beat. (And I did check all fluids for water.. there was none as I have extended the breathers)

Thx for your input!
Feb 20, 2019
Minneapolis, MN
I had the door open light on mine and the switch was just stuck. I'd check that first before diving into the wiring. Can't really help with the starter problem since I've never experienced it but it sounds like you are on the right track. I'd also double check all the fuses.
Last edited:
Jan 31, 2018
at first it does nothing but then, one or two seconds after I turn the key it starts spinning and engine starts.

I experienced this same symptom. In my case it was the starter. It got worse and worse for about a week, then it eventually stopped engaging at all. There were times I held the key as long as ~10 seconds before it would finally come to life and begin to turn over, but it began as a 1-2 second delay.

I suppose you could test your luck and wait to see if it improves (if you can risk getting stranded), but it does sound similar to my experience.

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