'88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

How-to's and repair secrets for your 4WD can be found here. Have a question? Ask it in here!
thayne_pnw
Newbie
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2018 12:07 pm
My tercel:: 1988 Tercel SR5

'88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by thayne_pnw » Thu Oct 25, 2018 12:12 pm

Hey all! My girlfriend's 88 decided to not do ANYthing when she turned the key. (Well not anything....the door buzzer buzzed with the key in the ignition and the accessories powered on. Is it time to replace things in the ignition/tumbler area? The starter is new as of this summer and the ignition module as of last month or so. Help!

User avatar
marlinh
Highest Ranking Member
Posts: 1513
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:15 am
My tercel:: 'Everett' Blue mint 4WD wagon and 'Rocky' 86 4WD Wagon
Location: Kootenays

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by marlinh » Thu Oct 25, 2018 12:46 pm

Check condition of battery, and battery terminals. Need to be clean and tight. Battery fully charged etc.

User avatar
Petros
Highest Ranking Member
Posts: 11145
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:31 pm
My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
Location: Arlington WA USA

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by Petros » Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:05 pm

welcome to the forum!

Not likely you need parts. sounds more like bad contact on the terminals, both at the battery and the starter. Oder cars like these tend to get corrosion is all places, particularly in damp climates.

get one of those terminal brush tools and give both the battery terminal, and the cable end terminal a good cleaning. A regular wire brush works too, but the terminal brush is really handy. Also, since the starter was recently replaced, with the battery cable off the battery, check the tightness of the nut that holds the battery cable to starter. They can back off from the high temp cycling this terminal experiences.

After you check the contacts and still no joy, it is possible the terminal in the ignition switch is corroded/worn. this is more troublesome but can be fixed for free. You remove the plastic steering column cover and than remove the electrical contact housing on the end of the ignition switch (I think it just takes a short Philips screw driver to get it out as IRC). carefully pull the plastic housing apart (old plastic can be very brittle, so you care and lube it with Armorall). clean and polish the electrical contacts, and bend them so them make better contact, reassemble. YOu can also replace the switch, but it is more work to get it out than pop it apart and fix it.

You want to start by inspecting/testing the simple and less costly causes, and work toward the more costly items. It is possible that even the "new" started is bad, in fact if it was a rebuilt starter that would make it suspect that the solonoid is bad. A very old used factory starter is more reliable than a "new" rebuilt starter. many are junk right out of the box.

good luck.
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

User avatar
rer233
Highest Ranking Member
Posts: 905
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:49 pm
My tercel:: Multiple

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by rer233 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:17 pm

Could also be the neutral switch- did you try starting in neutral and park? Maybe hold the ignition key in the crank position while shifting thru the gears. Make sure to keep a foot on the brake pedal just in case... Do you have power to the small wire on the starter solenoid while someone tries to crank the engine?
if it aint there, there's a good chance it won't break!
83 SR5 Silver/Blue (Snowmobile/work beater)-totaled but drivable
85 SR5 Blue
88 SR5 White (the 'good' one)-not anymore-totaled
87 fwd silver wagon a/t
87 4wd dx Cream (a/t- not anymore- now m/t)

User avatar
Mark
Highest Ranking Member
Posts: 775
Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:49 pm
My tercel:: 1984 Automatic, 1981 sedan
Location: Victoria, B.C.

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by Mark » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:49 pm

There is a small wire going to the starter that is connected with a slide-on type (I don't know of a better term for it) of connector. Mine kept falling off and producing the symptoms you describe.

User avatar
Petros
Highest Ranking Member
Posts: 11145
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:31 pm
My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
Location: Arlington WA USA

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by Petros » Fri Oct 26, 2018 8:09 pm

Mark wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:49 pm
There is a small wire going to the starter that is connected with a slide-on type (I don't know of a better term for it) of connector. Mine kept falling off and producing the symptoms you describe.
That would be the solonid wire, it is green as I recall. the connector is a "bayonet" type. they can work lose, good call to check it.

this contact would also be a good check on the starter solonoid: you pull the plug, and run a 12v jumper to the contact direct from the "+" side of the battery. Make sure the car is in neutral or park, and the brake is on. if the starter engages and cranks, than the problem is not in the starter. if the soloind does nothing, you need a new one. or at best, you can take it apart and clean the internal contacts and see if you can get it to work.
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

jmoore
Newbie
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:49 am
My tercel:: 1985 Tercel 4WD SR5 1983 Tercel 4wd SR5

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by jmoore » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:48 pm

Hey guys, i have a similar problem with my starter, it gives a click and no rotation of the engine. I thought it was the teeth on the flywheel or starter initially so i removed and inspected the teeth, there is noticeable wear but everything seemed to be fine, so i tried 2 other starters that i had lying around and i got the same click on one of them, and the other seemed to whiiiir with no click or engine rotations. I removed and cleaned the positive terminal from the starter and battery and cleaned both sides, and i did the best i could to clean the bayonet connection on the starter both sides as well as the negative terminal on the battery. It did this a few times the past couple weeks off and on but i would just try to turn the engine 2-3 more times and eventually it would catch, lately it seems to be every time i go to start the car it doesnt start. I have been turning the front pully nut to rotate the engine and bang on the bindis gear on the starter and occasionally i get lucky. Battery is at 13.2 volts... I am stuck, if theres anything I am missing please let me know. I am reposting this here because it is a technical question and I realized the last post was a for sale post. Sorry if it is redundant

User avatar
Petros
Highest Ranking Member
Posts: 11145
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:31 pm
My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
Location: Arlington WA USA

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by Petros » Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:58 pm

sounds like it could be in your ignition switch. try jumping 12 volts to the starter solenoid (there is a bayonet connector on the starter for the solenoid). if it wants to start each time, than it is the starter switch at the back of the key cylinder.

Usually you can remove it by removing the steering column cover, and than unscrew it off the back of the key cylinder (it is a little white plastic housing held in place with a Philips screw). This housing can be carefully popped open and you clean the metal contacts, and bend them a bit so they make better contact.

if the contacts are worn or corroded away you will have to replace it, I do not know if they are available new, I have either been able to repair them, or replaced them with a used one from the wrecking yard. Attached is a picture of the ignition switch with the wire connector on it.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

jmoore
Newbie
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:49 am
My tercel:: 1985 Tercel 4WD SR5 1983 Tercel 4wd SR5

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by jmoore » Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:46 am

I think you are right Petros, if I wiggle the key cylinder around it will connect as I turn it. I will get some free time this Friday to take the plastic off inside to diagnose and hopefully repair. I will repost with the update.

User avatar
Petros
Highest Ranking Member
Posts: 11145
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:31 pm
My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
Location: Arlington WA USA

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by Petros » Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:17 pm

jmoore wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:46 am
I think you are right Petros, if I wiggle the key cylinder around it will connect as I turn it. I will get some free time this Friday to take the plastic off inside to diagnose and hopefully repair. I will repost with the update.
it is actually fairly easy access, a short Philips screw driver is necessary to get the one screw off the ignition switch model to remove it. if the screw is not frozen in place it only takes about ten min to get access and remove it. of course the first time you will take longer figuring out how to get the steering column cover off (you will need longer philips screw driver to reach the screws from the bottom).
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

jmoore
Newbie
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:49 am
My tercel:: 1985 Tercel 4WD SR5 1983 Tercel 4wd SR5

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by jmoore » Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:47 pm

i jumped the stater solinoid and it still made the click sound without ignition of the engine, currently looking for the ignition relay switch...

User avatar
Petros
Highest Ranking Member
Posts: 11145
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:31 pm
My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
Location: Arlington WA USA

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by Petros » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:47 pm

bad solonoid perhaps?

the headline states "not even a click", but you just wrote " it still made the click sound".

please explain.

does it click, nor not click? solenoid engagement? or relay click? or what?
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

jmoore
Newbie
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:49 am
My tercel:: 1985 Tercel 4WD SR5 1983 Tercel 4wd SR5

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by jmoore » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:56 pm

Petros sorry for the confusion but I am not the original poster...I figured my question was relevant to this topic so I chimed in hoping for answers. I have a loud pronounced click as if the starter is engaging then grounding out or something. I jumped it, still have the same click as before when I reconnect negative terminal. I cleaned the ignition switch terminals as suggested, and then began looking for a relay because it seems like it gets the power then grounds.

jmoore
Newbie
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:49 am
My tercel:: 1985 Tercel 4WD SR5 1983 Tercel 4wd SR5

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by jmoore » Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:03 pm

I should have edited the above post instead of make this new one, but it is a click from the starter which I assume is the solenoid...and it’s an 85 4wd 6speed if it makes any difference

User avatar
Petros
Highest Ranking Member
Posts: 11145
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:31 pm
My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
Location: Arlington WA USA

Re: '88 Tercel automatic won't start....not even a click

Post by Petros » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:11 pm

I did not notice you were not the original poster.

Verify your battery is fully charged and all the terminals are clean and making good contact.

if you get a loud click, and it does not turn the engine, likely it is the internal contacts in the solonoid. they get corroded, they can be replaced for cheap, but you can usually take the solonoid apart and clean the contacts (both sides), and it will work again. the contacts become pitted from arching and no longer make reliable contact.
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

Post Reply