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Old 05-01-2010, 05:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Starter Grind and no start after Sub/Amp theft

I looked in the search but could not find anthing on this issue directly so I need some help here guy and gals. To give you some brief background, a few days ago it appears someone managed to break into my 4runner but I could find no damage on the entry, but they managed to steal my Kenwood KAC-X301T amp and 12" Pioneer sub and enclosure, seems they also tried to steal the Pioneer DVD player deck as the front screen was pulled out as if they were trying to get behind it to remove it, well they failed there.

I think they may have tried to get into the engoine compartment as the hood was popped and I have hood lights so I noticed that first and the lights were very dim. Today I hooked up the charger to the system and charged the battery up. After full charge, I tried to start the truck ... the most unbelievable grinding and shaking came from the engine. In fact I tried to turn it over for about 2 seconds and it stopped. I have attempted two more time to just bump the starter and it still sounds like a rock crusher. I am at a total lose as to what is the cause or the fix. Ok, I need one this time and THANKS!
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Old 05-01-2010, 08:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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dang that sucks you did not deserve for this to happen.

Any damage to the main battery cable? Start there I would think.

I can not for the life of me think what a vandal could do to the starter itself. Did the emergency flasher switch get unplugged at the dash? Do you have working turn signals when key in the on position?

And in the meantime in case the starter causes a fire- until solved have an extinguisher with the truck so that you will not need it. Just an ounce of prevention so the trouble does not get worse.

You have the radio bezel out and examining for damage behind there I presume?

Very sorry to hear about this. We'll certainly get some consensus on what to do next.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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they might have been trying to steel yer car and were trying to start the engine by some unknown means and inadvertently messed up the starting system and that is y they just took ur sub and amp bc they too heard the sound and could not get the car to start i would deff b callin the insurance company though to c if it is covered
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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That could be a possible and I will confirm that with the insurance comapny as I did call them about the theft and have filed a Police report. I will further discuss it with them to see what my options are and what could be the issue. It did seem a bit weird that my hood was open. Good catch
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Old 05-02-2010, 05:36 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Check around the engine compartment for ripped wires, or any signs of trouble, fuse box, near starter, near firewall, and under the dash too. Did you have your amp wired to some weird spot?
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Old 05-02-2010, 05:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks, will be checking those spots. As for the amp, no, normal type wiring have a primary supply that comes from the battery on dedicated cable with it's own fuse.
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Old 05-02-2010, 07:22 AM   #7 (permalink)
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try tapping the the starter with a hammer or lug nut wrench a few times, sometimes the starter just isnt in the right spot to turn over...

also check the bolts to make sure they are tight and the starter is tight against the block.
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Old 05-02-2010, 07:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Check around the engine compartment for ripped wires, or any signs of trouble, fuse box, near starter, near firewall, and under the dash too.
Did a look around and I can't see anything out of the ordinary that would indicate intursion into the starting circuits (sigh) but there are ways to do it I'm sure. Did not see anything that jumps right out under my dash area either.

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try tapping the the starter with a hammer or lug nut wrench a few times, sometimes the starter just isnt in the right spot to turn over...

also check the bolts to make sure they are tight and the starter is tight against the block.
Starter appears to be pretty firm in its location but anything is possible. The starter will try to turn the engine over, it isn't a clicking or single click that is characteristic of back contacts in the starter. The sound it makes is a grinding crunching sound. I will try to get my son to help me and attempt to record video/audio. When attempting to turn the engine over it will make really ugly noises and the engine shakes quite a bit. It will not fully turn the engine through a complete cycle without major resistance and will actually stop. I can't do a continuous cranking, almost afraid to do that as well due to the vibration and sound as well as the starter stopping.
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Old 05-02-2010, 08:48 AM   #9 (permalink)
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ya know just wondering but u might hate me for this but did u happen to check ur gas bc if the hood was open and they got in the car then they could have gotten to the gas tank and put something in it like sugar and that could explain why it seems to try to turn over but doesnt might be something to look into and like i said worse case scenario and i hope it isnt that
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:02 AM   #10 (permalink)
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just an idea, pull the starter and hit it with 12 volts. see if it pops up and turns. If yes, I would start looking at the engine for problems. Not much help but, thats what I would do. try to rule out parts one by one.
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:13 AM   #11 (permalink)
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your starter might not be fully engaging on the flywheel and just barely catching it making the engine shake alot and the grinding noise.
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:54 AM   #12 (permalink)
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ya know just wondering but u might hate me for this but did u happen to check ur gas bc if the hood was open and they got in the car then they could have gotten to the gas tank and put something in it like sugar and that could explain why it seems to try to turn over but doesnt might be something to look into and like i said worse case scenario and i hope it isnt that
Interesting thought, but checked the fuel filler and no traces of any powder or other residue. Dry and smells of gas when I ran my finger along the cap seating area. I don't think it would be so quick to cause a problem only after some fuel has begun to be pumped to the engine. I could be wrong but I don't think that was the case as if they wanted to vandalize the truck they could have done alot more

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just an idea, pull the starter and hit it with 12 volts. see if it pops up and turns. If yes, I would start looking at the engine for problems. Not much help but, thats what I would do. try to rule out parts one by one.
That will be a good test once I get the starter out. I am hoping that the issue is just with the starter right now as having to go into a major engine rebuild, I just don't ahve the funds or time to do right now. Fortunaltely this is not my daily driver but it is my ride to SoCal this July. first I am going to wait until I can talk to the Insurance Company to see what all would be covered on this theft/attempted theft as this issue only surfaced after the breakin.

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your starter might not be fully engaging on the flywheel and just barely catching it making the engine shake alot and the grinding noise.
Another great idea to check when I remove the starter. After reading some of the threads on removal this may not be a quick "plug and play" repair. If the starter is not fully engaging the flywheel then this could explain the grinding issue. Going to have my son help me and see if I can do a short video on the sound and issue.

Thanks guys keep'em coming
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Old 05-02-2010, 11:38 AM   #13 (permalink)
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UPDATE: got it started but .....

Ok here is an update. I tried to take a video of trying to start. It did the same thing as before and then I tried bumping the starter a few times. I got some of the same cranking with grinding so I had my son get in and do the same thing and just bump the starter while I put my hand on the starter body to feel for vibration etc. He bumped it twice and it seemed to sound normal. I could not feel any vibration from the starter and checked to see if I could see if was loose and it all seems as it should be.

I then tried to turn the engine over and it started turning over normally but would not fire. I then tried a prolonged turnover with a few pumps of the accelerator. Nothing. Had to put the charger back on it. After about 20 minutes on the charger I decided to look under the timing belt cover, the belt appeared to be fine, clean and tight.

Tightened the cover back up. Check ALL fuses in both the engine bay and under the dash. All fuses are solid (ohm check). Decided to try again. This time after several pumps of the accelerator, the engine started to catch and cough a bit but then fired. The engine started running up to about 1500 RPM which seems to be normal when its cold. I got out to check the exhaust and it was cloudy white and smelled of gas. Outside temp is around 54 degrees. It just seemed to be awlfully white to be normal. It did not seem to be misfiring.

I shut down the engine and checked the oil level and the stick was still at normal level and no indication of water in the oil yet. I did not run it very long so it did not get anywhere up to normal operating temp. I started it again and it fired right up but then I still had the same white vapor. After letting it run for about 3-4 minutes I started to get the normal condensation dripping from the tail pipe. The white vapor did decrease but it still seemed alot for daytime and at this temperature.

I am wondering now if I have somehow managed to blow the head gasket? What are some ways to confirm this without taking the truck to full temperature and then doing more damage? Thanks again guys
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Old 05-02-2010, 02:08 PM   #14 (permalink)
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If the white smoke smelled like coolant it might be a head gasket but you say it smells like gas so I'm thinking it just got flooded. Run it more and it should clear up.
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Old 05-02-2010, 03:49 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Yeah, the would be thiefs may have tried for quite a while to get it started.

BTW, how long were you away from your truck? Was this at night? Did you leave the doors unlocked?

Nonetheless Dale, it sucks to hear that news.
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Old 05-02-2010, 03:49 PM   #16 (permalink)
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yea, that happened to me the other morning as well, for some reason the battery was dead, got it jumped but it ran like crap smelling really rich and had white smoke, drove it to work and it was fine there after...
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Old 05-02-2010, 08:00 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Yeah, the would be thiefs may have tried for quite a while to get it started.

BTW, how long were you away from your truck? Was this at night? Did you leave the doors unlocked?

Nonetheless Dale, it sucks to hear that news.
Hey Rock, thanks. Actually it was locked when I left it. It probably happened while I was at work. Most likely on Thursday as I had to work late. I have also had a few weird occurances around my house with the electronic locks. Random lock/unlock. So it is possible it somehow got unlocked but when I went out to get my tool bag and noticed the hood had been popped. The rear lift gate was also open but the weird thing was the rear doors were locked.

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yea, that happened to me the other morning as well, for some reason the battery was dead, got it jumped but it ran like crap smelling really rich and had white smoke, drove it to work and it was fine there after...
I guess I'm still a bit worried as this thing was really makin ugly, ugly noises when I tried to first start it and it would not turn over very well. After it did fianlly start it was a bit rough but quickly smoothed out. I could smell what seemed to me to be gas but I don't know what burnt anti-freeze smells like! I would just hate to drive this thing to operating temp and then it sucks all the coolant from the radiator. then I would really ahve a mess. Keep the ideas coming guys and Thanks Tofer, that may be my next step depending on what other information I can get. Still investigating and looking for anyother inputs. Thanks again Guys!
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Old 05-02-2010, 08:39 PM   #18 (permalink)
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First off, very sorry to hear about this. I get sooooo mad when jerks steal from honest people like us, especially when they mess with a toyota.

If the bad noises have stopped when cranking the motor, I would go ahead and let it idle until warmed up. As long as the oil and coolant levels are fine, go ahead and race the motor a little, maybe up to 2,500 RPM, but don't just keep it there for a long time. Hopefully, it will clean up from just being flooded, and will be good to go from there.

Wonshot1 had a really good idea of removing the starter, and see how it operates out of the vehicle. If you have a mirror and a good light, you can also inspect the teeth on the flywheel.

I'm wishing you the best. Hang in there.
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Old 05-03-2010, 04:51 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Burning anti freeze will make the exhaust smell sweet. Its pretty distinctive. sweet like candy, not sweet like awesome.
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:34 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Update II She's Running!

Well after talking to a couple of toyota techs today decided to do what tofer did. I started the truck and she fired right up. The temp was around 55 degrees and the exhaust was a bit "foggy". Gave a couple of sniffs and it smelled of normal exhaust, no over excessive fuel smell and not "sweet". Let the truck continue to warm up and as it did the idle slowed to normal around 700 rpm and I started to get quite a bit of condensation dripping from the tail pipe which is expected. Temperature stablized at its normal position just under half. NO more condensation dripping from the pipe. Exhaust was practically non-existent so took it for a quick 5 miler. Checked exhaust and it was normal, nothing to see. Everything seems to be rock solid. I'm just a tiny bit relieved

Thanks again to everyone who took their time to help me with their ideas and suggestions. Everyone of them was instrumental in helping me to decide my next step and all seems right wit the world now! Your inputs validated my decision. Looks like it was only flooded and needed to be run up and warm. Still have no idea what caused the starter grinding and engine hanging up so will have to continue to watch with a careful eye. Just really relieved to know my truck is alright. All that other stuff I can replace.
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