Ignition problems, '96 Camry

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Vehicle info:
1996 Toyota Camry LE 2.2 Automatic

Problem:
A month or so ago my ignition key broke off in the ignition, snapping just above the grooves. This wasn't a big problem, as long as I insert the grip end of the key I can turn the ignition and start the car. I knew I'd eventually take it in, but since it wasn't a priority, I never did.

Now, a couple weeks ago I started having problems starting the car. When turning the key I would get just a "click" sound. The starter would not engage. Eventually, after anywhere from 2-10 tries, the starter kicks in and she turns over no problem. Like it needs to hit a "sweet spot" or something.

I cleaned the battery contacts to make it wasn't part of the problem.

Question:
Is it the ignition (due to the broken key) or something completely different, such as a bad starter? And how do I troubleshoot this?

I know I need to take it in for servicing at some point, but I'm extremely broke at the moment, and if there's any way I can do the work myself, I'd prefer that (I have some limited experience with "tinkering" but nothing major like pulling the steering wheel). So if possible, also let me know what level of experiece you think is required to remedy this situation.

Thanks,
Coriolis

posted by  Coriolis

Just thought I'd bump this up before it gets too far back... I sure would appreciate some ideas/help from the experts. :)

EDIT: After reading up on this, I think it might be the starter solenoid. Anyone here have expereince replacing the solenoid on a Camry starter?

posted by  Coriolis

to test if it's a bad starter or a bad ignition switch when it's just "clicking":

turn your ignition switch to ON - so all the lights in the dash come on.

At the front of the engine right by the transmission is your starter (if it's the 2.2, if not find the starter). Use a screwdriver to jump the large post (main positive lead) with the small "S" terminal (small post). Don't hit the screwdriver on the body or it'll spark like you wouldn't believe. When you do it right you will either hear it click (bad starter) or the motor will crank over and the vehicle will start (bad ignition switch).

Someone you know must be familiar with "jumping a starter" and can help you it, it's easy, especially on the 4 cylinders because the starter is right up front.

posted by  carls47807

Turn your headlights on and turn the key while listening for the click. If it becomes very faint you probably have a dud battery or connection.

posted by  Wally

True, Wally. Check the voltage on the battery as well, even if you read a full charge it may just be a surface charge. Turn on all of your accessories (lights, hazards, wipers defogger) and check it again, it shouldn't drop below 10 volts or so. If it does try charging the battery o a trickle charge for twelve hours and check again. :2cents:

posted by  srober32

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