I have a 1997 Toyota Corolla

It started to have starting problem a few weeks ago. If I didn't drive my car for 1 or 2, the car won't start. The only way to start the car is to turn the steering wheel from side to side (about 1/4 a circle, from 12 o'clock to 9 and then back), and turn the key at the same time.

I have new engine oil, new oil filter, and oil level is good. Battery should be ok, only a few years old and I did refill the water.

Steering oil should be ok, I don't know about steering pump condition. It's the original pump, but is it the root of the problem?

I check the coolant, it's ok, too.

Note, I'm not talking about steering column lock. This after I unlock the car and trying to crank the engine.

  • Congrats on the weirdest problem that I've heard of in quite a while!
    – Bob Cross
    Oct 30, 2014 at 0:07
  • 3
    Sounds like you've got one of those Flintstones cars. Do you find yourself sticking your feet through the floorboard and making a running motion? In all seriousness, the fact that you "need to turn the steering wheel" must be causing parts of a broken connection in the ignition switch to temporarily come back into contact with each other. If it doesn't crank, it's an electrical problem, and the only explanation is that the key switch has a disconnect. Oct 30, 2014 at 1:35
  • The problem is that it's very difficult to replicate the problem. I have to left my car for at lease 2 day for the problem to appear. And after the engine is warm up, it can start with no problem. I'm replacing the starter, and see if the problem is fix or not.
    – Aaron Lam
    Oct 31, 2014 at 0:38
  • 1
    I agree with @LynnCrumbling, this smacks of a failing ignition switch (IS). I had trouble with the IS in my '97 Blazer, and equally-unusual solutions seemed to get it started for about a month or two: taking the key off the key ring (i.e. changing the weight in the ballast), using the spare key, wriggling the key slightly before cranking, etc. ..I eventually replaced the IS myself, but it wasn't fun. However it saved me about $3-400 I think.
    – elrobis
    Nov 17, 2014 at 18:17
  • @LynnCrumbling, now you need to rewrite your comment as an answer!
    – Bob Cross
    Jan 5, 2015 at 22:25

1 Answer 1


Sounds like the ignition switch needs to be replaced. Moving the steering wheel from side to side apparently is enough to get it to make enough contact to work. It will fail sooner than later. Have a mechanic look into it. This is a safety issue because the car could very well start turning itself off while driving.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .