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Old 10-16-2022, 10:54 PM #1
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Need help: Intermittent starting

About a month ago, I went to start my 2007 4Runner and all I got was a single click and then an electrical tone/whine until I pulled the key. This happened multiple times. A couple hours later I tried it again and it started. I drove it to the auto parts store, got a new battery, cleaned up the cable connections and didnít have a problem for a month. They also ran a starter/alternator test and said I was fine.

This morning (a month later) the same exact symptom happened again. Click, whine, nothing. Multiple times. Couple hours later, more click, whine, nothing. Then one time it starts up like a champ for no good reason. Once it starts up once, it seems to do ok starting up again multiple times. Now Iím wondering if the old battery was good.

Later this afternoon (same day) I go to start it up again and while it did start up, I noticed it struggled a bit and the lights on the dash flickered. I took it to a different auto parts store and they gave the battery, starter, alternator a thumbs up.

SoÖ any idea what this is? An issue with the starter? An electrical issue? Iím hoping someone has run into this before. Thanks guys.
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Old 10-17-2022, 09:34 PM #2
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I'd start by inspecting each of the relevant grounds listed in the graphic attached. By inspecting, it's examining the wire for signs of damage, then removing, cleaning, and reinstalling each ground attachment.
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Old 10-17-2022, 09:47 PM #3
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And after that, I'd swap the Starter Relay (underhood electrical panel) with another identical one from a circuit you can live without.

Inspect the relay terminals for corrosion, clean it up if found.

If it still persists, the ACC CUT relay appears to be in the power circuit so do the same for it.
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Old 10-17-2022, 10:18 PM #4
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Thanks waypoint. May take me a couple days to find all these grounding points. I take it you think itís an electrical issueÖ was hoping that wasnít the answer. A starter solenoid or something would have been a lot easier!

Did that table come out of the service manual? I assume those page numbers listed will help me find these grounding points?
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Old 10-18-2022, 07:12 AM #5
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What year and engine is your 4R?

The ground chart is from the service manual, and the detail sections usually have diagrams showing locations. Best $10 on eBay I ever spent.
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Old 10-18-2022, 09:14 AM #6
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2007 V6 which I believe is the 1GR-FE
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Old 10-18-2022, 10:37 AM #7
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There is a metal plate that the solenoid uses to close the circuit to the starter. If the plate gets dirty from carbon the motor will just spin and not engage the flywheel. I've had this happen on my Camry. I just took it apart and cleaned it up. That fixed it. The motor can test good because there's nothing wrong with it, just carbon on that plate. Tap the starter when it's not starting and I'll bet it engages. On the Camry it was harder to get the starter off than it was to take it apart an clean up the contacts and plate
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Old 10-19-2022, 02:27 PM #8
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I decided to start with the easy stuff, which was checking the relays.
  1. I didn't see another relay with the exact same color/Part number as the starter relay, so I was hesitant to swap them. Thoughts?
  2. In looking at the other relays, I noticed that the DOME relay was quite hot. I pulled it. There was 12V across pins 1-2. Would anyone mind exploring if this is the same for theirs?
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Old 10-19-2022, 03:20 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waypoint View Post
I'd start by inspecting each of the relevant grounds listed in the graphic attached. By inspecting, it's examining the wire for signs of damage, then removing, cleaning, and reinstalling each ground attachment.
I can't post a dedicated question, so if I may, I need help with something similar.. I just swapped my ECU in my 05, did the immobilizer reset, the engine turned over once, now nothing when I turn the key.. the ecu was flashed to my specific vin number.. instalation was a breeze.. I just don't get it.. I've replaced starter relay, ignition relay, brand new battery and alternator.. I was advised the ecu was done, so I purchased one, had it flashed to the vehicle.. what am I missing? Is the immobilizer causing this? ANY help would be appreciated
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Old 12-14-2022, 05:23 PM #10
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Quick update, I had a mechanic install a new starter and the problem hasn't come back. Downside, he installed a refurb Ultima starter and it just doesn't sound as good. Higher pitched electrical sound. Oh well.
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Old 12-14-2022, 10:39 PM #11
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Quote:
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Quick update, I had a mechanic install a new starter and the problem hasn't come back. Downside, he installed a refurb Ultima starter and it just doesn't sound as good. Higher pitched electrical sound. Oh well.
That was likely the issue. I started researching starter issues as a preventive measure since I'm at 236K miles on my '07 and the alternator died a couple of months ago. In a nutshell, the starter works by forcing a plunger down until it makes touches a couple of contacts, completing the circuit so the starter gets power to turn the engine. The contacts wear away over time and eventually get to the point where sometimes they make enough contact and sometimes not. I have the rebuild kit but haven't had a chance to pull the starter yet.
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Old 12-15-2022, 04:50 PM #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluesky 07 View Post
That was likely the issue. I started researching starter issues as a preventive measure since I'm at 236K miles on my '07 and the alternator died a couple of months ago. In a nutshell, the starter works by forcing a plunger down until it makes touches a couple of contacts, completing the circuit so the starter gets power to turn the engine. The contacts wear away over time and eventually get to the point where sometimes they make enough contact and sometimes not. I have the rebuild kit but haven't had a chance to pull the starter yet.
I've rebuilt several starters over the years. The hardest part is getting the old one off/on. Some starters use the solenoid (plunger) some use torsion (motor starts turning and pushes the gear into the flywheel). The brushes can wear down, contact wire can break off or sometimes there's a metal plate that can get loaded up with carbon deposits.

I have always felt that you are much better off repairing your own starter than buying a rebuild. As a teen I bought a rebuilt one that looked great, with about 2 coats of cheap paint and a load of dirt on the windings. Toyota starters (Denso for the most part) are well built and with a repair they should last the life of the vehicle. It's really not too difficult, especially if you can find a good rebuild kit.

The starter on my '91 V6 Camry was acting up in it's 26th year so I took it off, took it apart, cleaned it up with CRC QD contact cleaner, put it back together and reinstalled it. It ran like a top until I finally donated it to Goodwill when it was 29 years old. The brake lines rusted through and I wasn't able to do that repair without some major labor, so I donated it. Until then, it started and ran just fine, used a quart of oil between changes and rode very well. A/C still worked great.
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