'92 Camry 2.2 non-start...weak spark?


knfenimore "Did you get her fixed? "
I think I’m about to. Got a '97 Prizm parts car out there, and just found out it uses the same igniter. :slight_smile: Going out there now…


Yup. Prism and Corolla are the same. I bought my daughter a Prism, half price of a Corolla.



In my neck of the woods, that “trick” wouldn’t have worked

Everybody here knows that Prizm and Corolla are the same, and the prices reflect it

It’s no longer a secret


I do feel STRONGLY that it is the ignitor…Then again I must say that if that batt connection has ANYTHING to do with powering the subsystem that has the ignitor on it…It too must be remedied… You would want to remedy that thing anyway… But yes, I do feel it is the ignitor.



I tried the igniter out of the Prizm…no dice. Put the spark tester on cylinder 1 like last time, and still got orange spark. Then I tried cyl. 2, same thing. So I’m thinking both igniters are good, and I’m now leaning toward replacing the distributor. Unfortunately the Prizm doesn’t have the same distributor. First, I’ll test for primary voltage but if I’m getting the weak spark, I think primary voltage is there. But what if there’s a poor connection at, say, the ignition switch, or a weak ground somewhere…could the strength of the primary be weakened, resulting in a weak spark at the end of the line (the plug?) Any way to test with a meter, would there be a voltage difference past the poor connection? After I’ve checked what I can (primary, coil resistance, ground connections) I’ll pull the distributor and look inside. The mechanic who replaced the distributor the first time said it “was burnt up inside.” So if I take the distributor apart, I should be able to see a problem there…does that sound right? I should have had the mechanic show me what he was talking about, but didn’t. Drat.
SteveC76 “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.”
You may have had no spark, therefore a different situation, but how did you determine that the coil was bad? Did you see something fishy, did voltage not appear somewhere, or what?

On rockauto I’m seeing 5 choices of distributors, ranging from under $100 to $200+. The 2 priciest are a new Beck/Arnley and a reman. OE Denso…any thoughts? Thanks!


Have you replaced the coil?


Does it have a pickup coil (a.k.a. signal generator) inside the distributor? If that is failing, there will not be a consistent well-timed spark from the distributor/coil. You have replaced the distributor, but I don’t know if a rebuilt would have a new pickup coil.


I called the mechanic the other day and he told me the distributor he installed had a new coil…I’m assuming the pickup is new as well. I’ll see when I take the dist. off, I guess. They are showing another “signal rotor” here, too. I haven’t had to mess with this electrical stuff much, so far. Mostly just worn-out parts. I have a few more questions for the mechanic but I should probably leave him alone. But if the distributor ends up being bad, I feel I should get a refund on it from him, and let him return it under warranty…I hope. It was installed about a month ago…



Have you verified that the mechanic installed the distributor correctly?

What I mean . . . are all your marks lined up correctly?


It ran well for a couple of weeks, then suddenly failed to start, so I think the timing is good. Distributor is still tight so I don’t think it moved. That orange spark just can’t fire it over, I don’t believe.


Sorry for the possibly stupid question, but have you had your alternator tested?


If my memory is correct they were beck arnley. It was the pickup coils that were the problem. We watched the output using a Pico scope and could see it become erratic. Ask your mechanic if he has access to a Pico scope, they are a great tool for issues like this. Here is a link to their websitehttp://www.picoauto.com/automotive-kit.html. There are other scopes out there but in my opinion Pico is the best for automotive diagnostics.



Fender1325 "have you had your alternator tested?"
No, but the old battery would discharge after sitting a couple weeks. As long as it was driven daily the battery would stay charged…


Go back to basics, start with a new battery.


Any auto parts place will test your battery and alternator for free. Rule it out!


I got a new battery since the other one was about shot after 6.5 years. I installed the new one when I switched igniters.`


My early 90’s Corolla has a similar ignition system. The igniter & coil is inside the distributor. Along with the pickups for timing from the distributor shaft. If you are getting a spark at all, I’d guess the pickups are working. If replacing the igniter and coil didn’t improve the spark quality – and your are fairly certain the spark quality is what is causing the problem – I’d next suspect the distributor cap, distributor rotor, and spark plug wires. If your Camry is like my Corolla, the cap and wires come as a unit. Maybe buy a new one of those, and a new rotor.

After that … hmmm… well, if your ignitor/coil ground wasn’t secure that could cause a bad spark. On my Corolla that ground occurs behind the engine on the firewall. Take a look there, there’s a lot of wires that come together and form a grounding network for the ECM/sensors/ignition system. And there’s another ground on the passenger side fender area. That one has a connector that can be disconnected to give convenient method for extra clearance when working on stuff in that area. Make sure it isn’t disconnected. And verify that the engine block has a path to securely ground it to the battery ground.

I should add that there two types of distributor rotors in this era, at least for the Corolla, and they are not compatible. You have to have the correct version for your engine. I had a parts store sell me the wrong version last summer, so consider that as a possibility anyway. Best of luck.


I have a 92 camry ran fine one night then went out next morning and wouldn’t start. Pulled air intake and choked by ha d over TB till it fired up and was hard to kep running had to throttle it up slowly and if gave to much throttle it cut out completely then died all together. Changed fuel pump thinking might be that since happened a few years ago same way. Didnt help checked spark was light orange and erratic. Took distributor cap off and cleaned all contact points and cleaned lil bit of oil out also then rechecked spark had none now still cranks and cranks wont fire cause of this would everyone say its the coil inside distributor ignitor looks good and no burned or eroded contacts in plug.


You just said the spark was orange and erratic

It should be bright blue and steady

The coil might just be the problem, and I believe it’s actually inside the distributor, as you already mentioned


Coincidentally, I was just getting ready to dig this thread up again, and post to it. :relaxed:
Quick recap; Camry stalled while my wife was driving it, I found no spark, took to mechanic, who replaced distributor (aftermarket) which included the coil. Ran for about a year, wife noticed a slight miss once in a while, then the car finally wouldn’t start. Weak orange spark noted with spark tester. Plug wire resistance in spec. Swapped igniter out of a '97 Prizm I have…no go. I looked at some grounds and connectors, all looked OK. It would start when cold, then stall after it warmed up. I finally took it back to the mechanic. He put in another aftermarket distributor, which promptly burned out. At that point, he thought maybe a bad ground had caused it to burn out. He had the car for a while, looking for a bad ground. Seeing no progress, I finally took the car to another mechanic, who of course said the distributor was bad, and replaced it. It ran fine for 6 months, now it will start and idle OK, but starts missing under load after about a mile of driving. Will rev up smoothly in neutral. I got a new Cardone distributor and put it in yesterday. The car started, and I left it idling as I checked and adjusted the timing. After a few minutes, the timing light started flashing intermittently, not every time. The car stopped running after about 10-15 minutes and would crank but not start. I put the other distributor back in, and the car is back to running as it was…missing under load. I just retrieved the codes. When I connected the jumper wire to the port teminals, it started idling erratically. The only code displayed was 1-2 which according to the Haynes is “RPM signal” diagnosis “No ‘Ne’ signal or No ‘G’ signal, trouble area: Distributor, Igniter, Starter circuit, ECM.”

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."
At this point, I think the thing to do may be to bite the 480-dollar bullet and buy an OEM Toyota distributor, but I’m open to other suggestions…