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Old 05-04-2007, 09:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Starter won't stop -- even if key removed!

Starter sometimes fails to turn -- sometimes won't stop turning.

The problem with my 2000 Sienna began as a zero response when turning the key to start the van. But with a second attempt the van would start just fine. This problem still occurs randomly -- not every time -- and I can live with it.

But now a new, seemingly-related problem has begun. When I start the van, the starter motor doesn't stop. It stays engaged and keeps trying to start the already-running engine.

If I turn the key to the off position, the engine will stop firing but the starter keeps working. Even more alarmingly, I can completely remove the key from the ignition switch and the starter keeps at it. By frantically re-inserting and turning the key a few times I can eventually get the starter to quit.

Checked already:
- Battery voltage 12+ with engine off. 14+ when running.
- Removed battery and had it tested at a local shop -- works fine under load.
- Battery terminals & cable clamps cleaned & in good condition. The positive clamp is brand new.
- The various electrical accessories work fine during all of this. Only the starter misbehaves.

The two components that I suspect are the starter itself and the ignition switch. But I'm not sure where to go from here.

Any ideas? Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2007, 09:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Its the starter. If you turn the key off and it keeps cranking the engine you can hit the starter with something to get it to stop. Better yet, just change the starter.
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Old 05-04-2007, 10:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks, ShawnM. I like the authority in your voice, but I still have a question for you.

If the key has been removed so that the starting circuit is broken, how is the starter getting the electrical power it needs to keep turning? Could it be that the starting circuit actually isn't broken, that the ignition switch is faulty?

BTW, I found a helpful training document on Toyota Starting Systems online at autoshop101.com.
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Old 05-04-2007, 10:49 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Oh. Do you mean that even though the control circuit has been broken by removal of the key, the motor circuit is still held closed by a faulty magnetic switch (solenoid) on the starter motor?
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Old 05-04-2007, 10:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The ignition key activates the starter solenoid (its basically like a relay. Uses a low amperage device to control a high amperage device). The solenoid then kicks out and supplies power to the starter. When the solenoid gets stuck the starter stays engaged and keeps spinning on its own, when that happens its drawing power directly from the battery not the ignition switch. I wouldnt say its common, but ive seen it happen more that a few times. Never seen an ignition switch go bad on a toyota to cause that problem.
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Old 05-04-2007, 11:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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With your info in hand I have now spoken with a Toyota dealership. Both the parts department and the service department agree with ShawnM's post. Specifically, they say that the contacts in the solenoid are a common problem with Toyota starters. These contacts may be repaired (parts & labor) for slightly less than the cost of a complete remanufactured starter (parts only).

I could replace a starter, but I'm afraid to rebuild one. So I'll have the dealer do the work. If they diagnose a problem other than the solenoid (such as the ignition switch or relay), then I'll post that info in gratitude to ShawnM and the forum.
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