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Starter motor just clicks... But

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Old 06-10-13, 06:38 PM   #1
lennyd
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Default Starter motor just clicks... But

So I searched but couldn't find any help so I'll ask.

Last Friday we had torrential rains here in south Florida, worse I've ever seen in my 60 years of living here. After 5 hours of waiting for it to let up I had to drive home. I had to traverse some really flooded roads with water up to close to the top of the wheels. I know all about ingesting water into engine intakes so just crept through the high water. All was good, made it home and parked my perfectly running 2003 (126,000 miles) LS, glad to have had it that day, too.

Next morning I go off to run errands and turn the key to just hear "click", the starter won't turn over. In spite of juice for the horn etc. I take battery up to get tested. The stores battery tester wasn't working but they gave me a brand new battery anyway. Still the same thing.... "Click".

I can try the key a few times and the starter will all of a sudden work normal and start the car right up. I went to the store, came back to car, tried it a few time and it started.

Today, three days later, the starter is still doing the same thing... "Click".

I find it hard to believe the starter, all of a sudden, is failing - especially given the horrible flooding I drove through. It seems the circuit or something with the water has caused this - prohibiting the starter from behaving normally.

I can't find a method to just jumper the solenoid to isolate the starter - testing it apart from the car's circuit. If anyone has an idea how to accomplish that, please let me know.

If anyone has any other thoughts about this please chime in. Has anyone had a similar problem? I sure would hate to replace the starter not being sure about this. From what I've read, starters are pretty reliable on the LS430. Thanks ahead of time for any help!
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Old 06-11-13, 05:56 AM   #2
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I agree definitely not the starter but not sure what it would be be. Maybe its the alternator. After replacing the battery the car was able to run but since you drove it a bit the battery is now dead again? Try testing the new battery now to see if its dead? The alternator is down low on the front of the motor and likely got water in it. The starter is buried under the intake manifold on the top of the rear of the motor so it would not have been wet.
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Old 06-11-13, 07:05 AM   #3
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i would check the connection to the started.driving through high water may have degraded the connection at the starter, ie a little corrosion.
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Old 06-11-13, 08:08 AM   #4
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Any time you have electrical symptoms, especially with a car like the LS430 that has lots of electronic gizmos, the first step is to check the supply voltage.
With the ignition switch (and all other switches - e.g. headlights) OFF, the battery should measure 12.6 V or slightly above. If it is lower, you need to charge the battery before doing anything else.
At this stage, you could use a jump, but be careful not to reverse polarity, or you will at least blow several fuses/fusible links, and probably use a few words you shouldn't.
If the battery measures good, the next step is to turn on the headlight switch. The headlights should be bright, and the battery voltage will drop slightly, perhaps to 12.4 or 12.5 volts. If the drop is greater, the battery is weak and should be charged or probably replaced.
Now, turn off the headlights and try to start the car. The battery voltage will drop significantly, maybe down to 9 or 10 volts, and the starter should turn the engine over. If the voltage drops below that, there could be several problems, but the most likely is a weak battery. If the starter motor just clicks, it indicates that the solenoid is pulling in, but there is not enough juice to run the starter motor (or you have worse problems like a siezed starter motor).
Once the engine is running, the alternator should supply about 13.4 V or above.
Now, for a bit of hope. The LS430 has a fairly common problem with the battery cable terminals, especially the positive one. There is actually a joint a few inches into the positive cable which may be corroded. You can get a replacement at any Toyota dealer, or if necessary any auto shop, and replace it yourself. It should be well under $10. It is quite possible that the water entered the cable end, and dissolved some of the corrosion (white powdery substance) and further deteriorated the cable. This causes intermittent voltage problems, and a high resistance in the cable which prevents the battery from supplying sufficient current to starrt the car, even when all other loads work fine.
Let us know the results of the voltage tests.

Last edited by Gene01; 06-11-13 at 08:27 AM.. Reason: Add alternator voltage check.
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Old 06-11-13, 03:49 PM   #5
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It could be the starter (worn-out solenoid contacts). My other car, an old Avalon, started the similar one "click" symptom few months ago. Last week, I finally had a chance to replace the solenoid contacts and plunger - Bingo, problem solved. Here's what I used as reference...hope it helps

DIY--Replace Solenoid Contacts and Plunger on 00 Camry V6
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Old 06-14-13, 10:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gene01 View Post
Now, for a bit of hope. The LS430 has a fairly common problem with the battery cable terminals, especially the positive one. There is actually a joint a few inches into the positive cable which may be corroded. You can get a replacement at any Toyota dealer, or if necessary any auto shop, and replace it yourself. It should be well under $10. It is quite possible that the water entered the cable end, and dissolved some of the corrosion (white powdery substance) and further deteriorated the cable. This causes intermittent voltage problems, and a high resistance in the cable which prevents the battery from supplying sufficient current to starrt the car, even when all other loads work fine.
Let us know the results of the voltage tests.
I'll take a better look at the positive cable, thanks!
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Old 06-14-13, 02:38 PM   #7
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Check the basics battery, battery cable, etc. The "click" has long been associated with a failing starter and this is usually related to the plunger contacts. Because the starter is located under the intake plenum, many shops advise to replace the whole unit. If you DIY then replacing the contacts is not a big $ fix, just time consuming. Depending on miles and how difficult it is to remove, get the necessary gaskets on re-assembly.

Fix this ASAP, you will only have so many starts before it goes completely south. You don't want to be left stranded.
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Old 06-16-13, 08:26 PM   #8
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Yes.probably just need to get 'er done. Cables all looked good.
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Old 07-06-14, 12:55 PM   #9
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I have the same issue. I live in AZ and had to traverse a wash with about 10 inches of water in it 2 days ago.

Today she won't start. It isn't the battery.... It's HOT and HUMID today and I am not looking forward to this.

So was the problem the starter?

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Old 07-16-14, 04:34 PM   #10
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Since you ran through water, some sort of corrosion is probable.
I'm surprised that no one has suggested ground problem.
Have a look at where the battery connects to the frame and the motor.
If there appears to be any corrosion, unbolt, clean & re-attach.
If you do have the starter changed, would for "fun" check voltage at those terminals.

OTOH, sometimes these things happen with no causal connection.
Dealer changes oil, oil pump, or a valve goes out 3 days later
- we want to blame the oil-change, but, it's just coincidence.
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Old 07-16-14, 08:28 PM   #11
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I'd check for something soaking wet or full of water causing an intermittent failure of the start to get power.
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Old 07-22-14, 11:12 PM   #12
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I had the same problem. I went thru a wash when we got a flash flood. Water was high enough to submerge the fog lamps and ruin the radar cruise sensor that had a cracked face. 2 days later it wouldn't start.

I replaced the starter. Let me say that it wasn't a fun job in the AZ heat. I DO recommend you take the manifold off in 1 piece. Don't waste time separating it.

I believe it is a coincidence. The starter is not in a place where it is going to get wet. I took the motor apart and the brushes were just a pile of black dust.

Replaced it with a NAPA unit instead of a 350 dollar Lexus one.
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Old 07-23-14, 05:17 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertLS4 View Post
I had the same problem. I went thru a wash when we got a flash flood. Water was high enough to submerge the fog lamps and ruin the radar cruise sensor that had a cracked face. 2 days later it wouldn't start.

I replaced the starter. Let me say that it wasn't a fun job in the AZ heat. I DO recommend you take the manifold off in 1 piece. Don't waste time separating it.

I believe it is a coincidence. The starter is not in a place where it is going to get wet. I took the motor apart and the brushes were just a pile of black dust.

Replaced it with a NAPA unit instead of a 350 dollar Lexus one.
All that work only to replace it with a cheap starter????? Lexus starter's are extremely reliable, I wouldn't recommend cheaping out on one. It dosen't make much sense to do that.
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Old 07-23-14, 06:59 AM   #14
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try starter solenoid...Toyota's have been known to have starter solenoids that wear out, like on my Previa several years ago. symptoms just like you say
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Old 07-23-14, 06:59 AM
 
 
 
 
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1998, 2003, 400, 400starter, 430, battery, clicks, forum, gx470, lexus, ls, ls430, motor, removal, replacement, starter, symptoms

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