No start after driving - 1990 Toyota Celica

Hello, I have a 1990 Toyota Celica that won’t seem to start after I’ve driven it awhile. After sitting, it takes around 4 or 5 hours for it to start again (although this is highly variable). The first start of the day is always normal. Recently it will stall at idle, then have trouble starting up. The engine seems to “try harder” to start if I press the gas.

The weird thing is that I was able to start it up easily today by popping the clutch. This has been a problem I’ve been struggling with for a few months, and over that time I have replaced the starter, battery, fuel pump, spark plugs and wires, and EFI/Main Engine relays. It always cranks, just no start. Any insight would be much appreciated.


This car may have an igniter which failed. There are other things that can cause the problem which a good shop can easily figure out.

I was leaning in DodgeVan’s direction as well… I believe he is onto something with the ignitor assy… and in the same thought process…I would be suspicious of the coil and the engines COMPRESSION as well.

You need to do a few tests for us Gearheads… When the car is COLD…and you know it will start… Open the hood and remove all 4 Spark Plugs… Plug one or more spark plugs into a wire and ground it to the block for a spark check. Have someone turn the engine over for you while you ground out a plug…or rig up a starter bump switch and turn engine over w ignition ON…and the fuel injection or fuel pump fuse/relay REMOVED…

TAKE NOTE OF THE SPARK… Is it Nice and Strong? Perhaps a nice FAT BLUE SPARKY ? If so this is GOOD…Blue is good and strong…Yellowing toward a WEAK spark quality.

Then install your plugs and go driving until you know that she will not start again if you tried… REPEAT the Spark Test…and tell us what you GOTS… If you notice a PALE YELLOW/WEAK spark…then you are onto what we are trying to tell you… If its yellow…and weak…You either have a failing ignitor…or ignition coil I believe… Perhaps your distributor is all self contained on that car…coil and ignitor assy all in one distributor… Im not certain…you tell us.

ANOTHER thing it could be is a bit more serious…and will involve a COMPRESSION check while COLD…and another when you know that she doesn’t want to start while engine is HOT

*** OOOPS WAIT !!! DUH…IN FACT what the hell ? Do the Compression check WHILE you are DOING the COLD and then HOT Spark quality test !!! Get two things done at the same time actually…YES…DO THIS… APOLOGIES

You will have all the plugs out and it will be the PERFECT time for said compression check anyway… Write down the comp test numbers COLD…and Again…when No Start HOT… Note the spark quality. For your cars Sake I am hoping you notice a drastic difference in the SPARK quality department… This is by far the LESSER of the two evils here. The answers to these questions will get us to a solution I believe.

Let us know… I bet we solve the problem if you do exactly what I outlined here for you…


I will share my experiences with a 1983 Toyota Celica. A bit older than yours but my story is similar. Initially car had trouble starting when it was hot (after it had been running for awhile). Eventually it got to where when the engine warmed up to operating temperature, it would cut out under full throttle. I thought it was a fuel problem at first but checked for a spark when it would not start one day and found no spark. I then went the wrong direction by replacing the spark igniter module. It started right up after this but had the same problems once it got hot and still no spark. Ended up replacing the much less costly coil and that cured my problem.
Good luck!