'91 Toyota Pickup Starts but dies after a second. Intermittent

'91 Toyota 2wd Pickup, 22R-E Engine. 1 yr. ago out of the blue it would start and idle, but if I give it any gas it would die. Shop had trouble figuring it out, then replaced Mass Airflow Sensor; problem re-occurred after once after this repair, but could not be reproduced at shop.

1 yr. later, driving along and engine quits without any warning. Very hard to start, but restarts once, drives about one more block, dies. Unable to restart; engine will crank and catch, but after about 1 second dies. Tried unplugging Mass Airflow Sensor; no change. Left sitting overnight, next morning it starts right up. Problem seems similar to a year ago, though this time it wouldn’t start and idle, it would just start and immediately die.

In every instance it was rainy/slushy and cold.

Any clues?


I’m pondering whether maybe there’s some sensor or electrical connection on the underside of the truck that gets slush on it and stops working until it dries out. After a week, I’ve had no more trouble with it, but the weather has been cold so there hasn’t been any melted snow to splash around…

From your description of the trouble I tend to think you have a fuel pump problem or a dirty and clogged fuel filter.

Happened again, this time it wouldn’t restart the next day. While I was waiting for a tow I pulled the engine codes and got “13” and “41”. These relate to Ignition system igniter circuit and mass airflow sensor.

It’s been at the shop for a week now. There’s been a snowstorm so for a couple days everything’s ground to a halt but when I called today the guy said they still hadn’t had a chance to look at it today.

I’m starting to think they’re bluffing, that they don’t have a clue…

First of all, the vehicle is older than some of our troops fighting in Iraq. Things can be expected to fail now and again. The problem a year ago could be totally unrelated to the current problem.

There are countless possibilities here. One is that the fuel pump or the regulator is unable to maintain fuel pressure. Or perhaps the fuel filter is plugged. Another is that it’s way, way overdue a tuneup. And that means a rotor, distributor cap, spark plug wires, plugs, and filters. Another is that the coil is failing, beraly able to provide some oomph to make a weak spark and not able to do so reliably. Another is that it has a vacuum leak…those rubber tubes are OLD.

Someone needs to look at this hands-on.

I wouldn’t be too hard on the shop. This snowstorm has buried them all with work. And most of them spent way too much time in their tow trucks.

Good points, and yeah, it’s an old truck and very reliable so I tend to see the occasional problem as par for the course.

Rotor, cap, plugs, and wires are about 3 years, maybe four years old.

My main frustration with the shop is that I got it to them Friday morning with the problem present and the fault codes in hand; they said they weren’t busy, that they’d probably look at it within the hour. Then … silence.

Anyway, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for a few more days.

I’d take it elsewhere, before they touch it with a tool. If they’re that disinterested now, once they start to look at it they mey keep it forever.

Unfortunately this can be caused by several things. My first suspects would be the coil or the distributor…do you think this failure is related to heat? I.e it only happens when it gets hot? If so electrical sensors/coils/distributors that are on their last legs will act up when hot.

If I had the truck I would check for ful pressure when and if it dies…if you have it…then its not your pump or fuel p relay…then move back from there. If it doesnt start pull a plug wire and turn it over and look for spark…

Ignitors are a common wear item on these vehicles…they are easy to swap out though. It will be located in or right outside the distributor most always. I have replaced several of these little guys with great results. Sounds like the ignitor is suspect especially when it gets hot. When the issue happens again…try to pull a plug wire to ascertain thw quality of the spark…if it is weak/yellow…then its the ignitor You spark should be bright and bluish.