No spark only when hot


The car is 1992 Toyota Celica GT 2.2liter 5s-fe.

When the car is cold it fires up no problem. However most of the time, but not always the car will not start back up once shut off when it’s at normal operating temp. I have found though when the starter is cranking if you let off the key for a split second and turn it again the car fires up. Once I get it started it runs fine.

Here is what I have found when it does this it isn’t getting spark to the plug wires. I replace my ignition coil, swapped out my ignition igniter (module) with a known working one, put in new plug wires. And I verified with my manual that it is getting an ignition signal from the ECM. Basically everything, but the distributor itself have been replaced. I’m out of ideas as to what is going on and I don’t want to shell out 200 for a distributor if I don’t have to. Someone mentioned maybe a camshaft or crankshaft sensor, but I called a dealership and they told me that my engine starting in that year does not have either one, it gets it’s signal from the distributor. Sorry for all the details, but I thought the more the better. This problem disappeared over winter, with the cold, plus the car was parked when it snowed. And I’m out of any other ideas.


There may be a problem with the ignition switch contacts causing this trouble. By investing in a test light probe and service manual you should be able to track this trouble down.


You replaced the igniter with a known good one - but did you replace the pickup coil (inside the dist - it takes the place of yesteryear’s “points”)? That is heat sensitive. It failed on my 1979 Toyota truck - first at times when hot. Later it quit altogether.

Other names for this part are signal generator and ignition control module.

BTW I kept the good junkyard igniter on my truck and carried the good original one with me as a spare. But the problem was never the igniter at all.


I never replaced the pickup coil. On this distributor it’s integrated into it so I pretty much have to replace it. That’s good to know though, because it would make sense everything seems like it’s working right until the distributor then it has problems, and I know the distributor is taking the brunt of the heat. Thanks.


One other thing if the pickup coil were having heat issues, would it be possible the car would run fine once it got started, but just have trouble kicking over?


I concur that the problem may be the ignition switch. Starting and running are two different operations. In the start position, the accessories (wipers, radio, HVAC blowers, etc)that feed through the ignition switch are not powered. Only the ignition circuit and the starting circuit are powered.

If your car is a manual transmission, try push starting the car when it won’t fire up. Be sure the ignition switch is in the run position. If the car starts right up with a push start, it almost has to be the switch.


Sometimes that’s how my Toyota truck behaved.