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Rock e. Horrorshow

98 Corolla Won't Start Or Turn Over, Starter Relay Clicking, Light

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98 Corolla, I think engine is 1.8L, 160,000 miles


I'm a pizza delivery driver - I got to work fine, took my first delivery without issue (car always starts strong, nothing weird about turning the key in the ignition, etc.). I got to my car with a second delivery...at first, nothing at all was working. Not the power locks, not the windows, nothing at all. I turned the key to start, all I got was crazy clicking that continued even after I removed the key, I traced back to the starter relay (I think that's what it is, in the engine components fuse box but it's not a traditional fuse, I could put my finger on it and feel the clicking).

My Battery (1-year old) terminals had recently been corroded, although they seem okay currently, so I thought it might be a connection. I messed around with a cable connected to the Battery, the alarm went off for just a second and then stopped. I got back in the car, and I slowly started getting power back - eventually, dash lights came on normally, radio and AC worked...but still, all I got was the crazy clicking when trying to start the engine. I removed the alarm system/horn fuse so it would stop going off.

It seemed like the alarm continued to try going off - the hazards were flashing, dash lights flashing, even with the key out of the ignition.

I checked all of the fuses that have to do with the starting system (I think), nothing there that I found suspicious. The starter hadn't given me trouble in the past, that's the only reason I'm not suspecting that. I feel like it might be the solenoid? Could it be a weak connection from the Battery, which maybe drained it, and now it's not giving out enough voltage to close the magnet in the solenoid? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, I had to leave it at work as I won't have the money to tow it or have it looked at by a mechanic (if necessary, I can do some stuff) until Tuesday.

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Hi,

As well as the Battery terminals have you checked the terminal to each wire that connects to the positive Battery connector and the same on the negative terminal and where the other end bolts to the chassis ?

Also check the wires and terminals to the solenoid and starter motor if separate items.

Seems strange that your bat terminal corroded up after a year, did you grease/ vaseline them after your cleaned and reconnected them.

Also worth checking the batterys state of charge and if your alternator is charging it.

You can get a cheap voltmeter like this cheap enough.

http://www.screwfix.com/p/analogue-pocket-multimeter/14350

Is the Battery a good brand or a cheapy which can only last a year if you are unlucky ?

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Hi,

As well as the battery terminals have you checked the terminal to each wire that connects to the positive battery connector and the same on the negative terminal and where the other end bolts to the chassis ?

Also check the wires and terminals to the solenoid and starter motor if separate items.

Seems strange that your bat terminal corroded up after a year, did you grease/ vaseline them after your cleaned and reconnected them.

Also worth checking the batterys state of charge and if your alternator is charging it.

You can get a cheap voltmeter like this cheap enough.

http://www.screwfix.com/p/analogue-pocket-multimeter/14350

Is the battery a good brand or a cheapy which can only last a year if you are unlucky ?

I'm certain it was the least expensive Battery I could find :( ...I'm not sure what or where the chassis is, but I had read that it was important to check the connection to the solenoid and I will do check both of these things. We just cleaned the terminals, I didn't even know to grease them. Because the car isn't right outside, I'm trying to get some ideas of what to do so I can be prepared when I go back to check on it. Where can I find the starter solenoid? I learn about cars as problems arise lol, and have yet to need to find these things...

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Hmmm.. learning the hard way !

The solenoid is often bolted to the case of the starter motor. you can usually find it by following the thickest red wire down from the positive Battery terminal.

Its often under the engine.

VERY IMPORTANT THAT WIRE IS ALWAYS LIVE AS CAN BE ANY OF THE OTHER WIRES TO THE Battery SO YOU CAN EASILY BADLY BURN YOURSELF ON IT OR CAUSE A FIRE.

YOU MUST DISCONNECT THE Battery BEFORE WORKING ON THOSE CABLES.

The ignition switch, relay, solenoid are all switches, just that each on can handle a greater current, the solenoid can take over 500 amps.

The ignition switch can go partially faulty - had that on my old Avensis

The negative terminal has one or more black wires running from it, the thicker ones typically are bolted to the chassis/ cars metal body near the Battery, again that needs unbolting and cleaning as needed, then once assembled vaselined to stop any new corrosion.

With everything connected if you set a test meter to the 20v DC range, with the engine off, connect the probes, one to each Battery terminal and it should show just over 12v , if above its ok, but below 12v then it needs charging.

If you can get the engine running and revving at about 2,000 and can safely do the same test again you chould see about 14v which means the alternator is working ok, if still around 12v then you are not charging, hence the flat Battery.

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Great advice and instruction, thank you so much! I will give this a shot, and get back when I have the problem isolated or (fingers crossed) fixed.

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Hi, I had a similar problem a few years back. Starter relay clicking like a machine gun but not starting. Did all the checks and even with a spare Battery used to jump it the car still had the same fault - the only thing I didn't do was swap out the Battery as the voltmeter said 12.2Volts. I changed the starter motor but the problem persisted. I eventually called a tow truck to take it for diagnostics and when the guy turned up he put a booster unit on the batttery terminals and the car started fine. It turned out that on it's last drive the Battery had faulted internally and although it showed 12.2V the current was not enough to crank the motor. Fitted the spare Battery and it ran fine. Tow truck guy was ok about it especially after I told him what I'd tested. He was older & wiser.....and £25 richer.

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Alright, voltmeter shows 12.5v at the Battery
terminals, 12.5v at the ground, 12.5v directly at the cables going out.
Car still will not start - I hadn't even considered a problem with the
battery, we tried a jump unsuccessfully so I just assumed that wasn't
it. Now that I know that, I'll havo to check. Checked all of the wires I could
find, they seem secure. Starter relay still clicks (when it started
getting warm, I stopped).

It's strange, my keyless entry is glowing like the Battery in it is
alright...but it won't work the locks. I'm getting 12.5v and when I
turn the key to "ON" all dashboard lights come on, windows work,
etc...but if I try to move to "START", sometimes they go off.
Completely, windows and whatnot won't work...turn it to "OFF" then back
to "ON", everything works again.

I thought maybe it was the alarm (which had been going off like crazy,
like I said I took the fuse out but I hear tons of clicking), tried all
of the overrides I could find: Turn the key from "ON" to "OFF" 5 times.
Left the key in the "ON" position for 10 minutes (in case it wasn't
recognizing my key I guess), turned it to "ON" and pressed in the button
to the lower left of the steering wheel for 5 seconds...nothing worked.
We got the alarm to turn off successfully a couple of times, but car
still won't start.

I aaalmost tried to turn, once. Just once.

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Hi,

Well sounds like you are making progress of sorts.

From your last post think you have 2 separate problems.

You say you can hear the starter Relay clicking and feel it getting warm if you hold it on , a little surprised it would get so warm so quickly, though never actually 'felt' that relay ( use relays at work and they typically do not get warm quickly)

You do not however say so can hear a loud click / almost clunk from the starter soleniod that should be activated when the relay clicks in.

I do not have any details of your wiring, but is there another relay the same as the starter relay that you can swap to see if the relay is faulty ?

Toyota will sell them but sometimes you can get an equivalent from Halfords or maplins.

It does sound like your starter circuit is shorting out so have to suspect that relay or more likely a bad solenoid or even the starter itself as only they are likey to be able to pull the Battery down.

You say you have checked all the connections but have you checked the thick cables around the solendiod incase they are shorting to ground.

Your other problem with the locks, suspect your remote will have lost its program sequence and your handbook should give you the correct procedure to re program it - if you dont have one you will probably search and find details of how to do it in this forum or on the web.

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I had tried it a bunch of times before the starter relay started to get warm. I really think it is either going to be the solenoid, or else it is something with the anti-theft system or otherwise electrical. I suspect that because of how crazy the security system has been acting, it will start going off so I close all the doors and go to the passenger side to manually lock and unlock...but sometimes that doesn't make it stop. It's supposed to go off after a while if the car is left alone, but there have been a couple of times where it just kept going, nothing having triggered it. Both of my keyless entry remotes won't work (I was unsuccessful in any attempts at reprogramming) - except ONCE, it randomly locked the doors. Out 50 tries. 2 other times I heard clicking coming from around the fuse box in the cabin by the steering wheel when I pressed "lock."

I was unable to locate the main security module (it was not under the driver's seat, as was recommended by Toyota). I decided that things have gotten too complicated for me, had it towed to a shop and plan to learn from the experience - I'll let you know what happens!

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