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What does it mean when my starter does this?

Discussion in 'Technical Chat' started by james, Oct 17, 2010.

  1. Oct 17, 2010 at 12:53 PM
    #1
    james

    james [OP] In over my head...

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    It's recently getting colder in Alaska's interior. Not below-zero, mind you, but headed that way fast. What might it mean when my starter won't engage upon a cold start up. What I originally thought was a weak battery, I've come to think that it's my starter. Here's why:

    I turn my key all the, I hear both the fuel pump prime behind me and I hear and feel the solenoid engage. But it won't engage. If I hold the key into the start position, I hear the predictable whine of a starter not doing what it's supposed to. As I release the key –slowly – I feel the starter kind of engage. The next time I turn the key, the starter engages, with enough force to turn the engine over.

    What might I be burning out? Can someone please describe what's going on inside my starter? (My mechanic thinks it's condensation of some sort, and while I trust him, he has the air of someone too busy to explain much to anyone. He tries, however.) He wants to replace the starter. I'm wondering if I need a replacement, or if there's something simple I can do to my existing one.

    Thanks in advance for any advice you have. BTW: my battery checked out just fine. And all the electronics, including stereo, fans, interior lights and headlights are all strong, strong, strong when I start from a cold start. It's just the starter that's causing trouble. Oh...and when it's really really warm: like after I've been driving it for half-an hour or more, there's no problem with the starter at all: it engages and starts right up like it's summertime on the first try.
     
  2. Oct 17, 2010 at 1:12 PM
    #2
    chris4x4

    chris4x4 With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. Moderator

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    Was the battery load tested, or just checked for voltage?
     
  3. Oct 17, 2010 at 1:22 PM
    #3
    james

    james [OP] In over my head...

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    Oh man, ten minutes and my faith is restored. THANKS!. (I'll bet it's just the small copper contact points that need to be replaced). THANKS, THANKS, THANKS!
     
  4. Oct 17, 2010 at 1:48 PM
    #4
    Toyota Truck

    Toyota Truck Well-Known Member

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    Let us know how it turns out... Even if I didn't help you at all.
     
  5. Oct 17, 2010 at 1:48 PM
    #5
    desertdude59

    desertdude59 CRAZY 4WHEELER

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    I would just replace the starter. If you have to pull it out then replace it.
     
  6. Oct 18, 2010 at 6:03 PM
    #6
    james

    james [OP] In over my head...

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    Let us know how it turns out... Even if I didn't help you at all. Will do.
     
  7. Oct 24, 2010 at 2:12 PM
    #7
    joes06tacoma

    joes06tacoma Well-Known Member

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    Have to disagree on this. If we were talking about a chevy or ford, then yeah, replace the whole thing. But the nippondenso starters that toyota uses rarely have anything fail other than the contacts. I've seen many of them fixed for cheap. No telling what you are actually buying if you get a rebuilt one at the parts store, don't want to know what the dealer gets for a new one.
     
  8. Oct 24, 2010 at 3:15 PM
    #8
    skytower

    skytower Well-Known Member

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    When you pull a starter that has a problem, it's usually a good idea to rebuild it vs repairing it. Then, you won't get stuck in a nasty predicament when it fails again. You know it has a problem, rebuild or replace it. You get what you pay for.
     
  9. Oct 24, 2010 at 3:38 PM
    #9
    desertdude59

    desertdude59 CRAZY 4WHEELER

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    From the Mojave desert now in Wild and Wonderful W
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    There is a shop where I used to work that rebuilt starters and alternators. I've done it and seen it done. If you pull it apart then you should just rebuild the whole thing. The armature could be bad, the bendix could be sticking, ect. I would just get a replacement. If you replace the brushes the armature still could be damaged. I've bought starters for my toy before and never had a problem.
     
  10. Oct 24, 2010 at 5:28 PM
    #10
    joes06tacoma

    joes06tacoma Well-Known Member

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    Hey man, I wasn't trying to discredit you. I spent some time working in auto parts stores and I warrantied a lot of rebuilt starters. Including a lifetime warranty starter that I bought for my personal toyota truck. I had one of our commercial customers show me how he was just changing the contacts out with new ones from the Toyota dealer. I really doubt the mass rebuilders were doing anything different other than spraying them with paint. A local electrical shop could be doing a much better job, or not. I was just saying that if you have something that was working great yesterday, and today you find a minor problem, maybe the best bet is to fix the minor problem that you positively identified.
     
  11. Oct 24, 2010 at 5:34 PM
    #11
    desertdude59

    desertdude59 CRAZY 4WHEELER

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    No problem man. I wasnt offended. You have some valid points. Mass production guys just replace whats needed. Thats no secret. Thats why they have lifetime warranties. lol
     
  12. Oct 24, 2010 at 5:38 PM
    #12
    newertoy

    newertoy Well-Known Member

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    Just replace the contacts. Did that in my '91 --ten years ago and no problems to this day..MUCH cheaper and a easy do it yourself fix.
     
  13. Oct 24, 2010 at 7:47 PM
    #13
    Mod

    Mod Well-Known Member

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    Especially in the rough country of AK.

    If they offer a higher Kv starter for your app,,get it. I had 2 choices for my 2.7 when I replaced it. I bought the higher Kv unit and it wings over real nice now,,even in the dead cold.
     
  14. Oct 28, 2010 at 8:40 AM
    #14
    james

    james [OP] In over my head...

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    Well, it was worn out solenoid contacts. Thank you, Phantom, for showing me the light. Easy and cheap fix and I'm back on the road.
     
  15. Dec 2, 2010 at 6:58 PM
    #15
    Monkeysuncle

    Monkeysuncle My Cat's breath Smells like Cat Food

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    My starter has been acting up for a week now, well it finally shit the bed and I had to push start it so I could get to work today. After a second push so I could get home I began looking online found new ones in the range of 129-150 bucks. I called the local shop that works on starters and alternators and bought the two contacts for 4 bucks. The solenoid was easy to work on and now it starts like new again.:cheers:
     
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