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Rain kills my car every time

O.k. I live in New England so the fact that every time it’s even the slightest bit precipitous out my car dies is, well, inconvenient at the very least. This only started happening about 6 months ago, and I have been “fixing” it by jumping it every time or preventing it by putting on a car cover when I think it’s going to rain. Not the best solutions.

I have: replaced the battery.
put the car cover on.
hoped it won’t rain.

That’s it!

People have suggested: Replacing the distributor cap (maybe it is cracked?).
checking the alternator.
buying a new car.

The car is: a 1998 Toyota 4Runner
a general bad@$$
still running with 225,000+ miles

Please help! I would like to have at least some general idea about what is happening before I take it to a shop and they charge me for everything from a new starter to a new air filter…

Thank you so much!!!

I would bet it is wires and cap. Replace all of them and your problem should be gone.

This kind of trouble is usually due to a problem with the ignition system breaking down due to the moisture in the air and causing arcing to ground rather than the plugs. Replacing things like a cap and coil or plug wires usually fixes the trouble. You may be able to see where things are breaking down by looking at the ignition wiring at night while turning the engine over. Check for arcing.

I agree with knfenmore and Cougar. I usually change the plug wires first because that usually fixes the problem most of the time. If that doesn’t fix the problem then I move on to the other ignition components.

All great advice above. One thing you could do is simply pop the hood and inspect the spark plug wires; Twist them, bend them. Do you notice any deterioration or cracking of the insulation? If so, it’s time to have them replaced. Usually when this is done, the distributor cap is replaced too, along with the rotor. And if the spark plugs are overdue, they’d be replaced at the same time. If all that didn’t fix it, then the ignition coils are worthy of consideration, as well as the crank sensor if you have one on your car.

thank you everyone! You RULE!!!

p.s. it is raining and has been for my whole shift at work. Yet the car started just now. Hmmmm. Maybe it heard me talking about it?

p.s.s. I donned its car cover/shower cap just in case. I’ve got places to be in the morning!!

“I donned its car cover/shower cap just in case.”

Instead of wearing it yourself, you would be better-off if you placed it over the car.


On a '98 4 Runner I believe Toyota recommends new plugs every 30K miles. Many folks skip this on older cars, so just how old are these plugs? Old plugs can be sensitive to moisture, especially if you see corrosion at the base where the ceramic goes into the metal. The gasket can break down and allow arcing to ground in moist conditions. That means no spark from the plug.

Old wires can be a problem too. The rubber gets old and moisture sticks to the old rubber and the dirt on the wire. This will allow the electricity to arc to another wire or to ground and again no spark. If the car has a distributor cap and rotor, those get old too.

Just replace these basic ignition “tune up” parts and you should be fine. The new battery and cover did not really address the core issue of your problem.