I have a 1997 Toyota Tacoma 4WD single cab. I know how y’all feel about folks that drive trucks that don’t really need them, but I use mine for work and play (I’m a county environmentalist and avid backpacker). My truck was running sluggishly the other day and then died completely and could not be re-started. I had it towed home and began the arduous task of finding the problem. It’s getting fuel to the engine side of the fuel filter and the plugs are getting fire. My brother-in -law suggested that the timing is off, that maybe not enough fuel is getting through the filter or possibly that the guts of the catalytic (or cadillac, as some around here like to say) converter may have broken down and blocked the exhaust. Did I mention the truck has 311,000 miles on it? I plan to replace the fuel filter and maybe try to remove the converter and see what happens, but I can’t figure out how to adjust the timing. The distributor cap cannot be turned, so how can it be adjusted?
You can’t adjust the ignition timing on your engine. It can only be checked.
Get the engine up to operating temperature and then turn off the engine. Connect a timing light to #1 cylinder. At the diagnostic connector under the hood, install a jumper wire between the TE1 and the E1 terminals. Restart the engine and check the base timing. It should be 3?-7? BTDC. Remove the jumper wire and check the controlled timing. It should be 7?-18? BTDC.
If the Check Engine light isn’t on, there’s nothing wrong with the catalytic converter.
Thanks for the quick response. Unfortunately, I can’t get it started to check the timing and the Check Engine light was on. Any suggestions?
One step at a time. Replace the fuel filter. You can use a flashing spark checker placed on a spark plug wire to check for spark. There should be a spark about every two seconds during cranking. 'NOID test lamps are great for test to see if the fuel injectors are getting orders to spray fuel.
You can get an indication of a fuel problem preventing start by using a spray starting fluid in the air intake tube on top of the engine. If it starts, troubleshoot the fuel system.
There is really no substitute for a fuel pressure test gauge. If fuel pressure is off 5 psi, the engine might not start. If you need an adapter for the fuel line connection, you can get one from ebay or amazon.com.