Issue causing starter to stay engaged on warm starts - Lexus IS Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-25-2017, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Issue causing starter to stay engaged on warm starts

I just picked up this IS300 about a month ago. It's a 2001 year automatic and has 145k miles on it. The car seems to have had a hard life that includes some body damage that's been repaired with too much body filler and miss-matched bumpers, etc. Looks aside, I'm trying to keep this reliable for my wife, but it has one rather annoying issue.
This happens occasionally but not consistently and only when the vehicle has been at operating temp for some time. I am going to try to explain this as best I can.

Lets say I drive down to the store to grab some milk. I park the hot car and shut it down while I run inside. When I come back out a few mins later and start the car, the starter turns the car over and then continues to spin. if I turn the key back to ACC the car shuts off but the starter still spins and will start again with the key back in run. The previous owner told me to pull the starter relay to make it stop and that seems to work. I can start the car then get out and pull the relay, the starter stops spinning, then put the relay back in and it's all good. I've replaced the relay with a brand new one and the issue continues. Keep in mind this doesn't happen every time I start the hot car, but only sometimes at random it seems. Another side-effect I've noticed is that when this happens, the gas gauge on the cluster occasionally will show zero. The gauge seems to work fine if the car is key cycled, but still leaves me with a spinning starter. Another thing I've noticed is that when the car sits overnight or for a few hours, it takes longer to start the car. It will crank for 30 seconds or more before it starts. It's a strong fast crank and the battery is new, so I'm not sure if that is related. This long crank is consistent for every morning and every time after sitting all day at work.

Could this just be a bad solenoid on the starter? Or, does it seem more like a wiring issue?

Thanks for the help,
Ben
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-25-2017, 05:50 PM
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Sounds like the starter relay might be sticking on. I'd probably throw a 12 volt light on the starter wire and see if it stays at 12 volts when this happens. Or use a volt meter. Light would be easier to test though. If you have 12 volts after you let off the crank position it, it's the relay, wiring or ignition switch. You then have to back up step by step till you figure out what's sticking on.

The fact pulling the starter relay makes it stop suggests it's not the starter
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-25-2017, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ek9B18 View Post
Sounds like the starter relay might be sticking on. I'd probably throw a 12 volt light on the starter wire and see if it stays at 12 volts when this happens. Or use a volt meter. Light would be easier to test though. If you have 12 volts after you let off the crank position it, it's the relay, wiring or ignition switch. You then have to back up step by step till you figure out what's sticking on.

The fact pulling the starter relay makes it stop suggests it's not the starter
That was my thought when the previous owner told me about the issue. At that point I hadn't experienced it yet for myself but I bought a brand new starter relay before I left. Still happens with the brand new relay.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-25-2017, 07:35 PM
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That was my thought when the previous owner told me about the issue. At that point I hadn't experienced it yet for myself but I bought a brand new starter relay before I left. Still happens with the brand new relay.
I'd look under the dash and see if someone had spliced in some sort of remote start feature. Could be something stupid like someone wired switched power to the starter. I'd start looking for splices.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2017, 09:21 AM Thread Starter
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I'd look under the dash and see if someone had spliced in some sort of remote start feature. Could be something stupid like someone wired switched power to the starter. I'd start looking for splices.
I'll give that a go. I know they have the "chip" wired in for the srt intake.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2017, 06:16 PM
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How about a worn ignition barrel? The contacts in behind could be worn or damaged and so keeping contact instead of releasing when the key returns to the ACC spot.

I would have started with the starter relay like everyone says, but to me if you have replaced the starter relay and it still does it more likely something is causing power to keep the relay active, so then trace back to the ignition barrel or possibly a spliced wire as other mention.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-28-2017, 09:00 AM Thread Starter
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How about a worn ignition barrel? The contacts in behind could be worn or damaged and so keeping contact instead of releasing when the key returns to the ACC spot.

I would have started with the starter relay like everyone says, but to me if you have replaced the starter relay and it still does it more likely something is causing power to keep the relay active, so then trace back to the ignition barrel or possibly a spliced wire as other mention.

The more I think about it, I feel like the warm solenoid on the starter could be causing it to stick and or maybe a short causing current to keep arcing contact until the relay is pulled. I'm going to try to snag a starter from a friend and run that for a while. Warn ignition barrel could be a possibility, but being in the dash and away from engine heat, I'm not sure why it would only stick on warm starts. Also, if the ignition switch was shorting and continuing contact, I feel wiggling it or turning the key off and on again would have a higher chance of dislodging it compared to just cutting power with removing the relay.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-28-2017, 09:37 AM
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The more I think about it, I feel like the warm solenoid on the starter could be causing it to stick and or maybe a short causing current to keep arcing contact until the relay is pulled. I'm going to try to snag a starter from a friend and run that for a while. Warn ignition barrel could be a possibility, but being in the dash and away from engine heat, I'm not sure why it would only stick on warm starts. Also, if the ignition switch was shorting and continuing contact, I feel wiggling it or turning the key off and on again would have a higher chance of dislodging it compared to just cutting power with removing the relay.
This was my suggestion. If you've already replaced the relay, I'd suspect the solenoid. Could be from wear, old thick grease, etc.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-28-2017, 09:40 AM
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+1 for starter solenoid.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-28-2017, 11:45 AM
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The more I think about it, I feel like the warm solenoid on the starter could be causing it to stick and or maybe a short causing current to keep arcing contact until the relay is pulled.
If it's the solenoid then pulling the relay shouldn't fix it.

If it was me, I'd hook a 12v light to the wire that engages the solenoid (the skinny wire) and then when it stays on, look at the light and see if it's on. If the light is on, it's an electrical problem. If the light isn't on, meaning no 12v from the key or starter relay, I'd look at the starter.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-28-2017, 12:19 PM Thread Starter
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If it's the solenoid then pulling the relay shouldn't fix it.

If it was me, I'd hook a 12v light to the wire that engages the solenoid (the skinny wire) and then when it stays on, look at the light and see if it's on. If the light is on, it's an electrical problem. If the light isn't on, meaning no 12v from the key or starter relay, I'd look at the starter.
So, you're checking to see if the signal wire continues to get power after the key returns from start to run? If the starter continues to spin and power continues to be supplied through the signal wire, the issue is on the control side and not the power side. The relay is on the power side, correct?

Edit: My thought leading to the starter solenoid comes from thinking about how some halogen lights will "blow" and then hit a bump and the current will hold the connection of the filament and keep the light on till you shut off the power or hit a larger bump.

Last edited by Shadowen925; 03-28-2017 at 12:24 PM.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-28-2017, 03:51 PM
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So, you're checking to see if the signal wire continues to get power after the key returns from start to run? If the starter continues to spin and power continues to be supplied through the signal wire, the issue is on the control side and not the power side. The relay is on the power side, correct?
Yes, at this point we don't know if it's mechanical inside the starter or control side outside of the starter. I don't believe it's the starter but nothing beats an empirical test.

The starter control wire goes down to the transmission as well as the ignition switch and relay. You can actually hook into the starter control wire inside the ECU box. The starter interlock is the circular switch on the passenger side of the tranny. I'd probably tap the wire there inside the ECU box instead of trying to actually get at the starter itself.
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