Wife started it at work and drove about a mile. It was stumbling at a stop light, she gave it a little gas to keep it running and pulled around the corner, where it died. We towed it home, and I found no spark. Took it to a mechanic, who replaced the distributor (came with a new internal coil.) The car ran OK, but my wife noted a very slight miss sometimes at idle (ran fine under load.) Then after a couple weeks, it failed to start. With a spark tester, and a spare spark plug, I’m seeing an orange spark. Engine cranks over strong after recharging the 6+ yr. old battery, which will discharge to 12 volts after the car sits a couple weeks. After a few crank-overs, I pulled a spark plug and it was pretty wet (plugs recently replaced, and I’m pretty sure the plug wires are good.) Then I tried starting fluid directly into the intake and got nothing. Will starting work if the plugs are flooded? I picked up a new battery but I don’t expect that’s the problem. I’ve attached a pic of the positive battery cable terminal. I guess that’s stock, with the wing nut…? There are two cables that disappear into a conduit, and I haven’t started tracing them or checked my ground connections yet (damn cold outside right now.) Is there a “prime suspect” in the third generation Camry that I should look at first? The Haynes schematic shows an “igniter” and an “ECM” but they are pricy and I’m not sure how to test them. Could a poor connection to these cause a weak spark? How would you proceed at this point? Thanks for any insights you can provide.
I would replace the wires before going down any other road. Starting fluid will only show a fuel problem.
I was figuring that if I had one bad plug wire, I would still be getting some kind of firing action. Maybe I should check the coil wire…that wouldn’t be too hard, even in the cold.
Plug wires have high resistance that can change over time. The can open up internally and have to try to jump that gap and the spark plug gap too.
“I’ve attached a pic of the positive battery cable terminal. I guess that’s stock, with the wing nut…?”
That is NOT a factory Toyota battery connection. In fact, it looks pretty low quality. I would replace it with something better. Either a new connection from Toyota, or at least a better connection
When using the spark tester tool, you should actually have a bright blue spark
Are you able to hook up a fuel pressure gauge . . . I know on your car you don’t have a test port, so you’ll have to tee into the fuel feed
You said the plugs were wet . . . did they smell like raw fuel?
Why are you sure the plug wires are good?
By the way, I don’t believe you have a coil wire, because you said the coil is inside the distributor
I have a 1.6 Corolla of similar vintage, so I expect your 2.2 works in a similar manner, with the coil in the distributor and the ECM uses a couple of sensors on the distributor shaft to determine ignition timing. During tune-up, you have to loosen the hold down bolt and turn the distributor to set the idle timing, right?
If I had this problem on my Corolla the first thing I’d do is read the ECM diagnostic codes. If nothing could be determined from those, I’d replace the battery, making sure all the connections were clean and tight. Then I’d replace the spark plugs, distributor cap (edit & rotor), and spark plugs wires. If the spark was still a problem, I’d probably buy an replacement OEM igniter module from Toyota.
But first thing is to read the diagnostic codes. If you post them here, folks will offer up some ideas before you embark on the path above.
It was not uncommon to see ignitors to fail on these. I had a Camary about 6 months ago that I replaced the distrubutor in, came back after a few weeks with a intermittent stall checked it again and it was bad. We replaced 3 aftermarket distrubutors before making the guest install a factory one, the car has ran great since. As said above check your plug wires and engine grounds.
db4690 "You said the plugs were wet . . . did they smell like raw fuel? Why are you sure the plug wires are good?"
It’s supposed to be warmer today, so maybe I can check the resistance on those plug wires.
I only took one plug out but, yes, it was really wet. I tried to search my problem here, and came across a post about the “ignition envelope” stating the spark had to be sufficient for the fuel/air mix that was present. I think you even posted in that thread. That got me thinking “What if the fuel pressure is too high and the weak spark just can’t fire it?” But I forgot to mention it in my original post…
GeorgeSanJose "the first thing I’d do is read the ECM diagnostic codes."
I haven’t seen a check-engine light…need to see if it’s even working. If not, I may pick up a code reader; Getting tired of going to AutoZone to have them pulled…and the car won’t start so I would have to push it there.
SteveC76 "It was not uncommon to see ignitors to fail on these. I had a Camary about 6 months ago that I replaced the distrubutor in, came back after a few weeks with a intermittent stall checked it again and it was bad. We replaced 3 aftermarket distrubutors before making the guest install a factory one, the car has ran great since. As said above check your plug wires and engine grounds."
Good info, Steve, thanks! I’ll ask the mech. but I’m pretty sure he put in aftermarket dist. Hoping to get the wires and dist. checked today, will report back.
SteveC76"We replaced 3 aftermarket distrubutors before making the guest install a factory one"
Were the 3 aftermarkets from the same place, same brand?
Yes, and it was from a parts house that sells higher end parts that we usually never have problems with. I think we did try to find a different source but were unable to locate one.
Plug wires checked OK, all around 1K ohms.
db4690"That is NOT a factory Toyota battery connection."
I thought that might be a little fishy, with the wing nut. At least the end terminals are copper, and aren’t corroded. I peeked down the cable insulation and there is some green crust there… Warmer yet here tomorrow, I should be able to look at where they go, and the ground cables too. As I said, cranks over good so cables to and from starter are probably decent. I’m tempted to toss an igniter at it (looks like the original, 200K miles) but I’ll try to hold off.
Pulled the igniter connector, no burnt wires, contacts looked OK.
I’d like to meet the wing nut that put that wing nut on there.
Remove the wing nut and get a regular nut of the proper thread size.
Bend the tabs on that copper piece to open them up.
Install the regular nut and tighten it until the flats line up with tabs on that copper piece.
Bend the tabs on that copper piece so they’re against the flats of the nut to prevent the nut from loosening up.
Battery connections: You might just need to purchase new battery cables. A new set usually isn’t overly expensive.
Reading diagnostic codes: Even if there is no check engine light, there could still be diagnostic codes stored in memory. Your 92 Camry is probably not compatible with modern code readers. 92’s are usually OBD I compliant. The codes are probably read in a similar manner to my early 90’s Corolla, no code reader is required. Instead a jumper wire is inserted between two terminals in the check connector (usually located somewhere in the engine compartment), and the ECM blinks the codes out on the dashboard check engine light. The method varies car to car. You’ll need Toyota’s instructions for this make/model/year/options to figure out how exactly to do this. Also remember that whenever you disconnect the battery, all the stored codes are erased.
GeorgeSanJose "remember that whenever you disconnect the battery, all the stored codes are erased."
DOH! When it rains, it pours. I’m down to one car of three. Luckily, it’s in good shape except for the intermittent ABS activation at low speed when braking on dry pavement, and the warped rotor, and the intermittent non-start. So I’m gonna go after the low-hanging fruit; Just posted a '97 Corolla thread about the brakes…
Your IGNITOR HAS FAILED…ITs not your wires or the ECM or Distributor. When the Ignitor fails you will see an ORANGE TO YELLOW Spark…which is insufficient to IGNITE the fuel.
REPLACE THE IGNITOR with a new or known good one and let us know how nice it runs afterward. This is a COMMON ISSUE on this vehicle. Ive diagnosed and replaced at least 8 of these units over the course of many years.
REPLACE THE IGNITOR… and clean up your Batt Connections. Problem will be history.
Honda Blackbird "Your IGNITOR HAS FAILED"
You’re not afraid of commitment…women in your life like that, I’m sure. I’ll go ahead and check the distributor first, easy enough to do I think. I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.
If it’s the igniter, how come it ran for a couple weeks after the mechanic replaced the distributor??
The igniter was probably failing for a long time
Now it’s probably failed completely
Did you get her fixed?