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97 Camry V6, no power to starter

03-03-2011, 09:01 PM
I'm helping a friend with his car, a 1997 Toyota Camry V6.

The car won't start, the engine won't crank.

I've checked for 12v constant at the starter and that's good.

Next I checked for a 12v trigger at the starter. That wasn't present at the starter.

I went to the starter relay. Pulled the starter relay and tested it by applying 12v across two terminals and checked for continuity across the other two. It checked fine.

So I checked for constant 12v into the starter relay, that's present. Checked for 12v trigger into starter relay, that was present also. Next I jumped 12v through starter relay terminal into the starter and the starter cranked the engine. Next I checked for ground into the starter relay, I didn't have continuity.

So I'm guessing it's either a bad ground wire coming into the fuse box or maybe even a bad fuse box? Is my thinking correct? Or is there something else that it could be? Maybe a main fuse or something, IDK, this is the first time I've encountered a problem like this.

What wire is the ground source for the starter relay? I found a wiring diagram from Chiltons (which I've attached to this post for reference) but I'm not really sure which wire is the ground for the starter relay. I don't have the car or relay in front of me to look at the terminal numbers.

The car isn't at my house and it's a 30min drive so I want to make sure when I go over there tomorrow I have everything I need to finish fixing the car. So any help on what is needed to finish the car would be greatly appreciated.

Brian R.
03-04-2011, 07:51 AM
If you are getting a relay "click" when you try to start it, and I think you should be from your description, I think your measurements are also consistent with bad solenoid contacts, which are intermittent. This is a known and common problem with these starters. Replacing the solenoid contacts is a trivial job on that car - and cheap.

See this post:

03-04-2011, 10:54 AM
To be completely honest, I can't recall if I heard a click from the relay or not. I believe I did heard a slight click when he tried starting it for me but I'm not completely sure. But I can double check that later when I go over there.

Also, of the four terminals that lead into/from the starter relay... I was looking at the wiring diagram again trying to figure out what leads into/from the starter relay to trying and see what the fourth one goes to. I know one is constant 12v (coming from ALT? terminal 5?). Another is the 12v trigger to the starter (terminal 3?). Also the 12v trigger (coming from ignition? terminal 1?). Lastly is what I'm guessing is terminal 2 (again i don't recall which terminals I was checking and don't have it with me to see) which is the ground right? If so, when I tested that terminal for continuity to ground I didn't show any continuity? Which led me to believe that was the problem. Did I check this correctly?

I'm not saying it's not the solenoid contacts, I just want to be certain what the problem is before spending money.

Brian R.
03-04-2011, 11:59 AM
From the FSM:
(a) Inspect the relay continuity.
(1) Using an ohmmeter, check that there is continuity between terminals 1 and 2 (terminals 1 and 2 are on opposite sides of the relay and are oriented parallel to each other).
If there is no continuity, replace the relay.

(2) Check that there is no continuity between terminals 3 and 5 (terminals 3 and 5 are on opposite sides of the relay and are oriented perpendicular to each other).
If there is continuity, replace the relay.

(b) Inspect the relay operation.
(1) Apply battery positive voltage across terminals 1 and 2.

(2) Using an ohmmeter, check that there is continuity between terminals 3 and 5.
If there is no continuity, replace the relay.

FWIW, these relays almost never fail

03-04-2011, 03:08 PM
I've checked the relay as described and it operates properly.

Mike Gerber
03-04-2011, 03:16 PM
If you are hearing the 1 click Brian mentioned it is almost always the starter solenoid contacts, as Brian also mentioned. A simple test to varify this is to have someone hold the key in the start/crank position and have another person tap the starter's solenoid with a hammer or a wrench. This usually jars the contacts enough to make them make enough contact to turn the starter.


03-04-2011, 05:02 PM
Very common problem for just about any 10+ year old car. The solenoid contacts can take a beating but don't last forever. When you come to it you can change just the solenoid contacts for half the price of a new starter. Little more work involved but fairly easy.

Brian R.
03-04-2011, 06:23 PM
I buy sets of contacts for around $20. This is from Toyota and includes new nuts, copper bolts, O-rings, contacts, etc.

03-04-2011, 07:20 PM
I appreciate the responses but the starter contacts are not the issue. I'm sure of this because 1) I don't hear the relay click 2) if I jump the starter by applying 12v to terminal 3 at the relay the car starts without a problem and 3) the relay checks good. The problem is at terminal 1 where the relay plugs into in the fuse box.

The relay checks good. (I've checked it like described above 3 times)

Constant 12v coming into the relay is good.
12v trigger coming into the relay is good.
The wire going from the relay to the starter is good.
Terminal 1 at the relay isn't getting a ground. (this is the problem)

Therefor, because terminal 1 isn't grounded, it's not allowing the 12v trigger to activate the switch in the relay and send the 12v constant power to the starter.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Brian R.
03-05-2011, 05:53 PM
Then you have to test the continuity of the wire in the loom connected to terminal 1. Then test the resistance to ground.

03-06-2011, 07:10 PM
Well, I took the fuse box apart and tested for continuity throught the fuse panel, that tested good and I found the wire I was looking for.

Next I tested the wire for continuity to ground and it checked good.

I put the fuse box back together and tested for conituity again and still checked fine.

But once I connected the battery I lost continuity to ground at the starter relay terminal. I disconnected the battery and once again I continuity. Reconnected the battery and lost continuity again.


Maybe a bad battery? I'm thinking battery because things go screwy once the battery is reconnected. I didn't have an extra battery at the time to test and AutoZone was closed.

Brian R.
03-06-2011, 07:22 PM
Where are you referencing the ground? Check the continuity from the relay terminal to the battery ground terminal connection, without the battery connected, then an engine ground. There may be a bad connection between the battery ground cable and the relay. I don't see how a bad battery can influence a ground connection.

01-12-2015, 11:59 AM
Did you ever figure out this problem? I am having the same problem and been through the same steps as you but did replace the starter and relay, not getting the trigger to starter once relay is in. Please help.

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