Car won't start sometimes, no starter sound, then starts after many tries

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Lately I've experience starter issues with my 2003 GX 470.  When I insert the key and turn it, all dash lights come on but it doesn't start.  No sound, just nothing. If I try again and again it eventually the starter engages and will turn over and start. Sometimes this takes just a few tries and sometimes 20-30 tries. It doesn't happen all the time, just when I least expect it.  Any ideas on where the problem may be?

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Start simple.

First: how old is the battery? If it is OEM from 2003 you have gotten far more life than normal. If it is aftermarket, they become suspect after three or four years. If you have another known-to-be-good battery then give it a try. Even trying a jumper cable from another running vehicle will give you a hint if it is the battery. There are some auto parts places that will check a battery for free.

If the battery is proven to be good, then check the battery connections to see if they are corroded. It is possible for the lights to work but not enough amps are flowing to engage the solenoid and turn the starter.

Next, check the battery ground cable where it attaches to the frame. You may want to remove it and clean the area.

If there is still a problem, try running a jumper cable from the negative battery post to an unpainted bolt on the engine. Remove the negative clamp so you can directly attach to the battery post.

That should eliminate all the battery-related issue. Next, the starter/solenoid will have to be tested. Some auto parts stores will do this also. It is possible for you to do it with a known good battery on a bench but that might better be left to experts.

Another possibility is the ignition switch. These more complex problems are better handled by mechanics.

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