Friday of last week my wife’s Corolla refused to start. It cranked strongly but refused to catch. Fearing the worst my mechanic father-in-law assumed the timing belt had gone and we spent the weekend replacing that. The tensioner bearing had seized leaving the timing belt glazed but intact and, as far as we could tell, the timing was still correct. We replaced the belt and closed her back. Tired turning it over, nothing. Father-in-law noticed he didn’t hear the fuel pump turn on when the key was placed in the ON position so he replaced that and the fuel filter. Turns out that the fuel pump only comes on when it’s cranking? Who knew? We didn’t. So that’s been replaced.
At this point we have it towed to the shop where my father-in-law works(After this point all my information is second hand). We were going to let Big Al, their resident diagnostician, hook up his magic boxes and tell us what’s wrong. Big Al suggests it’s the distributor so that’s changed but it still doesn’t run. Big Al suggests that we set the timing incorrectly. That is torn apart again and, remember this is second hand information, “it was right but it was wrong”. Whatever, they get it back together and it cranks and runs! Hooray!..but not so fast.
Next morning father-in-law arrives at work and gets bubkis. Cranks, sounds like it wants to start but won’t. Somehow Big Al determines it’s the PCM and that the car is getting “too much of a fuel pulse from the injectors” I ask if they are able to pull any codes from the computer and I’m told that they can’t get any codes from ODBII scanner because it can’t communicate with the car’s computer. Also it’s found that the catalytic converter is completely shot.
That brings me to now. I can buy a used PCM for 55 bucks but I have little confidence that it will work. Can anyone in the Car Talk community offer some angle on this that hasn’t been explored? If i left out any relevant information please ask. Any advice would be appreciated.