1987 Toyota Pickup - Won't run

my 87 Toyota pickup won’t start and run. I replaced fuel filter, plugs, wires, cap and rotor. It will start and run about 4 seconds before it cuts off. It has the 4cyl FI engine.

How long has it been sitting before you tried to start it? It fires so… the ignition is OK. If you spray starter fluid or brake-kleen into the intake while you try and start it and it can be kept running with the spray, it is a fuel system problem. Have you checked the fuel pressure to see if the pump is keeping up?

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On some vehicles if the oil pressure sensor does not detect oil pressure when the engine is running, it will shut off the fuel pump. The wiring diagram should offer a clue.


The problem might be with the ignition control module.


The ICM functions in two modes. These are the start and run modes.

When starting the engine, ICM allows full voltage to the ignition coil to ensure the cold engine starts and to compensate for the voltage drop from operating the starter.

Once the engine starts, and the charging system comes on line, the ICM drops the voltage to the ignition coil. If this wasn’t done, the extra voltage from the charging system would burn up secondary ignition components.

In older vehicles, a ballast resistor/wire was used to perform this same function.

So, the ICM may be working in the start mode, but failing in the run mode.


I have an '87 Toyota pickup, 22R engine. I had to replace the fuel pump a few years ago. Except that I clumsily broke the temperature sender gauge that hides behind it it was cheap and easy.

you could disconnect the fuel line at the filter, funnel it into an empty plastic milk container, or something like that, Have someone start the engine while you observe fuel flow for about ten or so seconds. If there is no flow, it’s likely the pump. If there is… well then it’s another problem. Don’t smoke while you are doing it.

Your vehicle has an igniter under the coil. It has to be checked and it is expensive to have a garage change it.

… and they were problematic on Toyotas of that era.
I know two Toyota owners who were stranded, back in the '80s, when their igniters failed.
I was riding with one of them when the failure took place on the NJ Turnpike. :unamused:
Luckily, because their cars were fairly new at the time, Toyota’s extended warranty on that part allowed them to have it replaced gratis.

My 1979 Toyota 4X4 truck had an igniter, though it was mounted separately from the distributor. A bad igniter could provide a meager spark, and your symptoms. Are you getting a really crackling strong spark, or something less?

Is there any way to test the ICM? It’s an expensive piece and I don’t think it would be returnable.

I haven’t seen a parts store that tests ignition modules in twenty years.


Is the ignitor the same as the Ignition Control Module (ICM)? How do you check it?

You need to check and see if the ignition is working when the trouble happens. The problem could possibly be with the fuel system. Use a spare spark plug inserted into one of the plug lines to check for spark getting to the plug.

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I had it running after I replaced the fuel pump. I didn’t drive it but I started it and ran it till it heated up about once a month. Then it started the current problem. It would only run about 2 seconds before it would quit. I replaced the cap, rotor, plugs wires and fuel filter. The only obvious problem was the plugs, which were really carboned up. The run time improved to about 5 sec. I’m pretty sure the pump runs but I’ll check again.

Several people have suggested that the problem is the ignition control module, since that has something to do with the cold start sequence. I hate to start replacing $150 parts just to see if it works.