98 Corolla won't start, won't turn over, just clicks (lights come on) - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums


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8th Generation (1998-2002) Specific discussion of the 8th generation

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Old 09-07-2013, 09:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Angry 98 Corolla won't start, won't turn over, just clicks (lights come on)

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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Old 09-07-2013, 10:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think your battery is toast.
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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We tried jumping it and it still wouldn't even turn. Not once. Just clicking from the starter relay. I'm going to buy a voltmeter and try to isolate the problem.
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Old 09-07-2013, 11:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I had the same thing except no noise at all my battery was toast and I bought a new one

See if you can jump it by touching the cables to the actual metal battery terminals instead of the things that grip em sometimes these battery grips (name escapes me) are painted on the outside specifically to insulate against electricity


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Old 09-07-2013, 01:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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My concern is that I know there is SOME reason it's not getting the power it needs, but I feel like the symptoms could be indicative of a number of different issues. I'm trying to get a voltmeter so that I can try to isolate the problem...
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Old 09-07-2013, 03:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Try cleaning the posts with baking soda and water. After they dry, use a wire brush battery cleaner to clean off the posts.

I had this same problem last week with my car and those seemed to fix the problem. After only a year, you shouldn't have a bad battery yet.
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Old 09-08-2013, 04:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Agree your 1 year old battery should be good except for one thing...Is you Alternator still putting out =>13.8 VDC at low idle with NO accessories, lights, blower, etc. turned on. Use a cheap Volt Meter and check the Voltage at the Battery Post for this measurement. If this is good then look beyond your clean battery post clamps...you did clean them right? The Ground Lead should go to a clean connection on the frame. The Plus should make it's path to the Starter...all these connections must be clean!
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Old 09-08-2013, 06:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
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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 this, I may have to try changing the battery. 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 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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Old 09-08-2013, 10:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Have you tried starting the car with the transmission in neutral (assuming an automatic)?
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Old 09-08-2013, 10:15 PM   #10 (permalink)
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If you drive a standard, why not just have someone give you a push?
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Old 09-09-2013, 01:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Does the alarm cut the ignition system when it activates?
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Old 09-09-2013, 01:43 PM   #12 (permalink)
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This the OEM Toyota alarm system (VIP system) or aftermarket?

Could be that the corrosion + other factors caused a temporary loss of power to the car. After restoring power - the alarm system came back in a funny state, depending on the design, could be initiating a built-in starter kill system.

I got that with my old aftermarket system - part of the anti-theft design, if someone pulled power in the attempt to steal the car - it would activate a starter-kill until the alarm box was reset. Everything will get power until you try and start that car - get nothing, no clicking, no noise.

12.5V is not fully charged - but not dead either. Should be enough juice to turn over the car, assuming that it can maintain atleast 10V+ during full draw.
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Old 09-09-2013, 07:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Tried starting it in neutral, to no avail.

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 stop itself 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 of 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've read that I sure wouldn't be the first to have a problem with the security system immobilizing a 98 Corolla.

I was unable to locate the main security module (it was not under the driver's seat, as was recommended by Toyota). Not sure if it's aftermarket, but I truly suspect not (knowing the previous owner, it has been between us since 2004). 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 guys know what happens!
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:19 PM   #14 (permalink)
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If you have the dough to spare, electrical gremlins are a GREAT kind to make somebody else's problem. I had weird results when my battery was running low, the alarm at one point activated and I couldn't turn it off but it didn't kill the starter so I could still drive around until the lights stopped flashing after about 5 minutes of stressful motoring. I DID have to pull the horn connector though, because yeah.

(For your amusement value: This was at Nike's world headquarters in a rich part of Oregon and came as I was attempting to load a metric crap-ton of computer equipment into the trunk of the oldest, cheapest car in the parking lot, between a few M3/M5s, Z3s, Boxsters/GT3s, and even an Exige. I'm still surprised the campus police didn't get called on me. I was doing desktop support and periodically needed to run the deinstalled stuff over to our shipping/scrapping warehouse, but it must've LOOKED fishy as hell.)
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:48 PM   #15 (permalink)
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One time it happen to my prizm car. I put the key and try to turn it on. All I hear was click. My battery was strong because my radio turn on and my alarm is strong also. so I kind of knew my battery was still good.
But I don't hear my engine cranking. So I figure it has to be somewhere in the starter. I get a hammer or something like that and slightly hit the starter couple of time. just slightly, not hard. After that, put the key in it crank the engine. The starter is all magnetic and sometime it get stuck. Well, this was my case. Sometime it could be something else.
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