Jim Grant's Tech Tips
Toyota Camry LE, Extremely Frustrating Start
Q: My '90 Toyota Camry LE V6 has an irregular
starting problem. It always starts up on the first trip of the day. After
one, or sometimes several errands, with the engine turned off it can take
from 3 to 45 minutes to start. It has always started eventually, but not
knowing when it will start is extremely frustrating. The dealer replaced
the starter but that did not correct the problem. I like this car and
want to keep it. Can you help?.. Alice
erratic starting problem can be a diagnostic nightmare, for both the technician
and customer. Due to the vehicle's age a thorough inspection of the electrical
connectors should be performed. A little bit of corrosion or a loose connector
can create a monumental headache. The starter shouldn't be the problem.
But, just because it's new doesn't always mean it's right. Be aware that
there are other switches and relays that cause intermittent anguish. If
your Toyota has an automatic transmission the park/neutral safety switch
could be worn or slightly out of adjustment. Sometimes wiggling the shifting
lever is all that is needed to bring the starting system back to life.
With a manual transmission there is an additional relay in the passenger
compartment, along with a clutch safety switch. If the repair facility
can't duplicate your problem then make it your mission to identify the
operating conditions that create the starting problem. Focus on factors
such as the weather, temperature and running time that makes the problem
occur. Good information will simplify diagnosing and correcting the problem.