Saturday, October 15, 2011

Camry starter solenoid repair for $15

Aimee is off to a biology conference in New Hampshire. While the wifey's away, you'd think the husband would play, but there's a persistent "fails-to-start: starter just clicks and doesn't turn engine over" problem on her precious Camry to fix first.

Otherwise not only will she be upset when she gets back, but she'll also be driving the 215,000 mile Nissan farm truck back and forth to school, and Aimee's not really up for that. The truck is pretty old and has lots of foibles that only mechanically-inclined folks would have tolerance for.

Like the tailgate that falls down of its own accord every 50-60 miles unless you check the catches every ten or fifteen miles. Or the smell of oil-burning-on-muffler that occurs every time the truck is asked to drive more than five miles. Or the gas tank that has to be filled only 2/3 of the way because the filler neck had to be lowered to accommodate the new wooden truck bed when the old one rusted out.

The Camry starter job was going to be easy enough, and indeed if it hadn't been for the SAR call-out last night I would have had it done by 9am or earlier.

What happens, apparently, with these Camry starter motors is that the solenoid (the big electromagnetic relay that carries the power from the battery to the starter whenever the key is turned) had worn out its own contacts. These little l-shaped copper contacts do all the work of passing all those starting amps to the starter motor itself every time you start the engine.

They were easily sourced online, just by googling "Camry starter solenoid repair." They came first class mail, less than a week, cost less than $15 counting shipping, while the replacement motor from our local discount starter firm cost nearly $130.

$15 bucks and an hour's work saved me $115. That's $115/hour.

Almost lawyer's rates, that.

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