Author Topic: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue  (Read 5155 times)

secondcor521

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Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« on: April 25, 2017, 01:05:05 AM »
Hi,

My 1993 Lexus GS300 with 150K on the odometer has an intermittent starting problem.  I'm trying to save money by diagnosing the problem a little bit.

Sometimes the car simply does not start.  Other times, the car starts up just fine.  When the problem occurs, I do not hear any clicking sounds at all - the car is completely silent.  When the problem occurs, turning the key to off and then to start again will eventually fix the problem.  The problem has been getting worse slowly over the past few months - it used to be that it would start on the second or third try; now sometimes it takes up to seven or eight tries.

I took it in to a mechanic about two months ago when the problem was much less frequent.  They couldn't replicate the problem, but the did test and replace the battery.  This has had no effect on the problem; i.e., the problem still occurs after the battery was replaced.

My Dad thinks it is the starter relay.  I think he's probably right but that it could be the starter - I had the starter go bad on my Toyota Corolla at about the same mileage, and rebuilding the starter fixed that car.  But I don't want to pay to have the starter replaced and find out that it is the starter relay.  I'd rather not take it in and have the mechanic not be able to replicate the problem and just keep replacing things in a guess-and-check sort of way.

So I guess I'm asking for experienced car folks to guess what is most likely.  Bad starter relay?  Bad starter?  Bad wiring/connectors?  Bad battery connections?  Other?

It looks like a new starter relay is like $20.  It looks like I just replace it like I would replace a fuse, right?  I can order one off of RockAuto or maybe get it locally I suppose.

Thanks for any suggestions/comments/wisdom...
« Last Edit: April 25, 2017, 01:10:30 AM by secondcor521 »

Dave1442397

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2017, 06:11:39 AM »
It does sound like a problem with the solenoid.

If you can't figure it out, try the Lexus forums - https://www.clublexus.com/forums/gs-1st-gen-1993-1997-120/

WildJager

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2017, 06:49:27 AM »
Another vote for starting with the solenoid (relay).  It's a relatively cheap part to start troubleshooting with, and you can most likely replace the part yourself if you have some basic tools.  Autozone lends out tools often for free if you buy the part from them if you need anything specialized. 

Clean Shaven

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2017, 07:49:56 AM »
Starter solenoid is typically part of the starter itself. Next time it doesn't start, try hitting the starter with a stick - not anything metal (conductive). Seriously. Google this.

If it starts after hitting the starter, that suggests a sticking solenoid. Replace the starter. Not that difficult to DIY.

secondcor521

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2017, 08:18:26 AM »
Thanks for the replies.

@craiglepaige, the instrument panel lights up just fine and the radio comes on if I have it turned on and the motorized radio antenna extends just fine with the key in the on position.  The solenoid is part of the starter on this car, so if I replaced the starter I'd just have them replace both.  I don't have a DVOM but I bet the local Autozone would let me borrow theirs.

@cleanshaven, yeah, I've read about that trick.  Didn't realize that the starter solenoid could get stuck.  On this engine, the starter is apparently sort of underneath on the right side of the engine block and a little hard to get to in terms of whacking it with something, but I could certainly give that a try.  Because it's sort of hard to get to - and because I broke the starter on my other car when I replaced it, I'm not particularly keen on doing it myself, but I'll think about it.  There's just twenty steps worth of removing stuff and putting it back.

I did open the hood and the fuse box cover this morning and had my son listen to it while I tried to start it this morning.  It took two or three turns of the key.  With the hood up and the fuse box cover open, both he and I could hear the starter relay clicking.  But my son also reported that the starter relay was "glowing".  That doesn't sound right to me - I'm not sure why the starter relay would be glowing.  It's supposed to be an electromagnetic switch from what I understand.  Doesn't sound particularly safe, either...?

Forgot to mention that everything in the starting subsystem is original to the car, and it has been garaged for most if not all of its existence.

Thanks again...

the_fixer

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2017, 09:00:30 AM »
Free things I would check -

Check the battery positive and negative connection for corrosion and ensure they are tight.
Check the connections at the starter / solenoid for corrosion, make sure they are tight and do not have any signs of damage (based on it "glowing")
Check you ground if you have one that goes from the battery to the body / frame and then where it goes from the frame / body to motor.

Clean Shaven

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2017, 10:42:49 AM »

@cleanshaven, yeah, I've read about that trick.  Didn't realize that the starter solenoid could get stuck.  On this engine, the starter is apparently sort of underneath on the right side of the engine block and a little hard to get to in terms of whacking it with something, but I could certainly give that a try. 

If you want to try the "hit it with something" method, but it's hard to reach, you might be able to use a broom handle (or dowel, or similar) and place the tip of it up against the starter.  Tap the other end with a hammer.

The idea is to vibrate the solenoid loose and get it unstuck.


Re: starter is glowing -- I have not seen that before.  Sounds bad....   maybe a lot of electrical resistance inside?  Definitely not normal.

MightyAl

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2017, 10:59:49 AM »
On the 2jz-ge the starter is under the intake manifold.  Not impossible to get to but it is tucked in. 

I think I have the wiring diagrams for the sc300 at home.  I can take a peek at them and see what is between the key and the starter.  Toyota did some goofy stuff on the starter circuits.  It could be a security relay like on the Mk3 supras that would cause a no start on them.  I used to wire around them because c'mon it is a 15 year old car.

rg422

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2017, 11:02:40 AM »
Worn starter contacts are a possibility. I had similar issue on a previous Toyota Supra and Toyota Tacoma and a "starter rebuild kit" from EBay resolved the issue. You can spend a bit more on a completely rebuilt starter, but replacing the contacts is all that's really needed.

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secondcor521

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2017, 06:38:19 PM »
More updates...

Replaced what I think is the starter relay in the fuse box...$30 from Autozone and easy to get to and replace and it could be the problem, so I figured why not.  The problem still seems to happen but the frequency may have decreased - probably just wishful thinking on my part.

Autozone also tested the battery and the battery tested good.  They tried to do a starter test but because I turned the key three times to get it started, Autozone Guy said the failed test was inconclusive.

This afternoon I had my son watch again (after replacing the relay) and he said the glowing wasn't there but that he saw a "flash of light" nearby - by his description it seemed like it was underneath the adjacent relay.  I had him start it so I could watch, and I didn't see anything.

I'll drive it for a few days and see if it's improved or not.  If it's still there, I'll be tempted to see how much a starter costs and just replace it myself.

@the_fixer, I'll check for corrosion.  There was some slight whitish buildup on the battery terminals that I might as well clean off.  Other than that it looked pretty clean in there, although I didn't check thoroughly.

@Clean Shaven, thanks for the tip.  I had the Autozone guy point out the starter for me.  It's pretty accessible...and not where I thought it was.

@MightyAl, I found wiring diagrams on the net already.  Not sure how to *read* them, but the starter circuit seems straightforward - at least the part that is giving me trouble.  The anti-theft and PN gear check thing are fine it seems.

@rg422, the starter contacts are what went bad on my Toyota Corolla at a similar age/mileage.  That time I removed the starter myself, got the starter contacts repaired, and then stripped one of the starter bolts when I was putting it back in.  Didn't feel up to learning how to use a "tap and die" set and was advised against driving around with a starter held on by only one bolt, so I paid about $300 to have someone else fix that up for me, which is about what the original repair would have been.  But in this case, the starter looks easier to get to, and there are YouTube videos now that didn't exist before.

secondcor521

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2017, 11:46:20 PM »
OK, so the relay didn't fix it.

And I got myself a replacement starter from the local auto parts store.  It's a remanufactured OEM part.

And I got the relevant section from the Chilton manual from my library.

And I know, generally speaking, what needs to get done.

And there's room for me to get under the part of the car to get to the starter (behind the left front wheel).

But now I have questions:

1.  There isn't a whole heck of a lot of room in there.  The starter is about halfway up the engine and there is maybe 5-6" of width.  How do I deal with that?

2.  What do I do if I get halfway through the job and get stuck somehow?  Dumb question, I guess I try to figure it out / get it fixed / get it towed to the actual repair shop (which will probably negate any savings).

3.  Will my local shop put the starter in that I bought if I explain to them that I chickened out?

Dave1442397

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2017, 09:35:53 AM »
I might just go with option 3. Plenty of shops will let you bring your own parts. Maybe find a local Lexus expert and ask them to do it for you.

If you feel adventurous, see if you can find a youtube video - https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=lexus+gs300+starter+replacement&spfreload=1

secondcor521

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Re: Lexus GS300 intermittent starting issue
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2017, 06:47:31 PM »
I might just go with option 3. Plenty of shops will let you bring your own parts. Maybe find a local Lexus expert and ask them to do it for you.

If you feel adventurous, see if you can find a youtube video - https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=lexus+gs300+starter+replacement&spfreload=1

Thanks.  I think I may do that.

I've already looked at YouTube videos.  They all show the "this is how it is done correctly" process.  What I want is the YouTube video showing the "this is how you can mess it up and how to recover from your mistakes" process - didn't find any like that. :-)