Issue with a 96 Toyota Corolla

About a month ago I went to get into my car and it would not start. It tried to but after testing things with my neighbor there didn’t seem to be consistent spark. So I bought a new distributor. Got it installed and the car worked great. Then after about a week we had a heavy rain while I was driving. The car shut off and wouldn’t start. After the rain was over for about an hour I went to look over the car and it started. I thought with the heavy rain something got wet. Then things really went down hill. A day or so later when I went to start the car it didn’t want to start and when it did it would misfire. Later that day the car started fine but would only run right if the engine was warmed up. I tried covering the car completely with a tarp, no change. My cousin who is a skilled mechanic said he was pretty sure that the issue was the new distributor. So I got a used one, not wanting to pay another large amount again. Put that in the car and no change. So I pulled the plugs on the car. Plugs 1 and 4 had a heavy carbon build up on the tips with pitting in the carbon. I had had them replaced, with the wires back in October. So I replaced the plugs and coated the wires in liquid electrical tape. Car started fine like it does in the afternoons. Nest day it was raining and I went to see what the car would do. It started! I drove it that day with no issue at all. The next day I went to start the car thinking my issues where over. The issue has returned. I changed out the plugs with new ones that night. Car started fine that night. Next day the car is still not wanting to start and misfires when it does. It has been damp but covering it doesn’t change anything.

Ideas? I’m at a loss. Please help.

Is there a reason you didn’t replace the spark plug wires?

They had been replaced in October of last year. I just replaced them both again.


I believe your car has an ignitor mounted on the left side, either on the firewall or the fender

You may want to make sure it’s doing its job.

Do you have a multimeter and some kind of a shop manual for this car?

When it’s not starting, though, you may want to check these things

Spark . . . only use a spark tester to do this
Fuel pressure test . . . this may be a pain, because you’ll have to tee in (no test port)

I am curious about one thing, though. I’m almost certain that the coil is available separately on your car. Why did you buy the entire distributor?

You may also want to hook up a scan tool and check for stored fault codes. You might be surprised. You might have a crank sensor code.

Did you replace the distributor cap and the rotor button? The cap maybe holding moisture. Did you get a new gasket for the distributor cap when you got the new distributor? If not, did you move the gasket from the old distributor and put it on the new one? Did the new distributor come with a new coil or did you move the old one to the new distributor.