1990 Camry - NO SPARK - need help! - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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#1 Old 01-20-2012, 07:45 PM
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1990 Camry - NO SPARK - need help!

I've had this Camry for 15 trouble free years, so this is very unexpected.

Scenario:
-Is our third car, so recently has not been driven much
-Parked outside, I always start and run for 15 minutes every week: wet, rainy this winter. Stabilizer is in fuel.
-Last time it ran, it was hard to start. Needed to put foot to the floor and crank for a while. My guess was a little moisture in gas.
-Now it only cranks, no spark when grounding plug

What I've done:
-Recent timing belt changed, so it's not that (rotor spins)
-Swapped distributor cap/wires with known good - nothing
-Coil primary and secondary resistances ok
-Jumpered another coil off the Primary contacts, no spark (coil not the issue)
-Swapped ignitor - nothing
-Swapped engine relay - nothing
-All known fuses are good
-Got the best looking distributor from junk yard (looked great) - nothing

Out of things to try. I'm guessing something in the ignition system I'm not thinking about. Strange that it starts one day and not the next. I would think moisture could be a culprit, but it has been outside for years with no issues. Need some ideas - it's driving me nuts.

Thanks.
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#2 Old 01-21-2012, 02:26 PM
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Hmm, well you could try a few electrical tests. Do you have a good multimeter?
When I say "pin X" below, I'll say where it is in relation to the cable face when you're looking at it with the retention device on the top. (The thing you have to push in to remove it.)
  • Is there power coming into the distributor from the ignition switch? There's a 2-pin dark gray connector. Take it off, turn the key to on, and make sure the cable pin 1 to ground is 12V. Pin 1 is on the left. This should also be present on the + terminal of the primary coil when the cable is plugged back in.
  • Is there power for the ignitor? Remove the ignitor cable, turn the key on, and measure the cable pin 3 to ground. Pin 3 is on the top right.
  • You checked the primary / secondary coil resistances. Did you check the signal generator pickup coils? These send a small version of the spark signals to the ECU. Turn the key off, disconnect the 4-pin cable from the distributor. Measure on the distributor side between NE (pin 1, top right) and G- (pin 3, bottom right), should be 140-180 ohms. Also measure G1 (pin 2, top left) to G-, which should also be 140-180 ohms.
  • Check for continuity between the ignitor main signal and the distributor. It goes from pin 5 (bottom middle) on the ignitor cable to pin 2 (right) on the 2-pin connector on the distributor.
The problem could also be in any of the other signal lines between the distributor and ECU (3 wires for the pickup coil signals), ignitor and ECU (2 wires for ignition control), or I suppose the ECU itself but my understanding is that's pretty rare.

FYI: all of the above is my conjecture from looking through the service and electrical manuals.

- Craig

EDIT: By the way, all of the above is for the 3SFE. If you have a V6, the wiring is different.

Last edited by auto_robotics; 01-21-2012 at 02:44 PM.
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#3 Old 01-21-2012, 07:10 PM
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Make sure the check engine light is on when the ignition is on (key on; engine off);if not the EFI is not getting power
Try a new rotor if you have not done so
Also try to pull the codes from ECU memory

Last edited by Doctor J; 01-21-2012 at 07:11 PM.
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#4 Old 01-21-2012, 10:42 PM
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Doctor J and auto_robotics,

I appreciate your responses. As soon as I have a chance I will give your suggestions a try. I do have a good digital multimeter to test the electrical. Between the pouring rain (Oregon) and three kids I have to wait for a good opportunity. I'll let you know the results as soon as I can. It is a 3SFE engine, Camry LE.

Thanks.
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#5 Old 01-22-2012, 01:39 AM
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Quick update - no check engine light when ignition is on

I only had time to run out and veryify the check engine light does not come on when the ignition is on. You say EFI is not getting power? Anything other issues that may be a result? What would you suggest I check next, given this light issue? Is there possibly some other fuse or relay I may have missed? By the way, I do have a running 91 camry with the same engine that I can temporarily swap parts on .

Thanks.
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#6 Old 01-23-2012, 01:26 PM
3s-gte in a Camry?!?
 
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Since it is intermittent and the fuses are fine (and the check engine light doesn't turn on when it won't start), it sounds like the EFI Main Relay is having problems. It is located in the engine bay fuse box, it is round and should be easy to find by the labels on the fuse box lid. Swap it with the known good one from your '91.

-Charlie

03 WRX Wagon 5spd
89 Camry Alltrac LE 3S-GTE 5spd
88 Camry Alltrac LE 5spd - blown motor
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#7 Old 01-25-2012, 08:28 PM
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Good news!

You guys hit it right on the money! I swapped the EFI relay with my other Camry and it cranked right up. Unbelievable, I spent so much time on that car. I never associated lack of spark with that relay. Funny thing is that I had an extra relay sitting in my toolbox that I grabbed 12 years ago from the junk yard. Thanks for all the advice.

Now that it running, I have two other items you might know about.

1. Fan switch (LE model) does not operate the blower in the "low" position. The light works but the blower does not work. All other positions work.

2. After warmed up, while coasting (foot off accelerator) the engine pulsates slightly as if I'm slightly tapping the accelerator. I suspect the idle air control valve, which I've tried to clean, but no luck.

Thanks a lot.
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#8 Old 01-26-2012, 09:23 AM
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On my car the engine pulsing was fixed after I cut a wire from speedometer speed sensor to the engine ECU ( the cut has to be made near engine ECU only to avoid getting tranny error code).
According to the literature, the pulsing is caused by high noise level of the sensor reed switch that affected speed dependent deceleration fuel cut)
Not sure 100% if it will work the same way on your car (mine is 87)
You may try to disconnect spedo cable and go for a ride before messing up with the wires.
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#9 Old 01-26-2012, 01:31 PM
3s-gte in a Camry?!?
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamB View Post
You guys hit it right on the money! I swapped the EFI relay with my other Camry and it cranked right up. Unbelievable, I spent so much time on that car. I never associated lack of spark with that relay. Funny thing is that I had an extra relay sitting in my toolbox that I grabbed 12 years ago from the junk yard. Thanks for all the advice.

Now that it running, I have two other items you might know about.

1. Fan switch (LE model) does not operate the blower in the "low" position. The light works but the blower does not work. All other positions work.

2. After warmed up, while coasting (foot off accelerator) the engine pulsates slightly as if I'm slightly tapping the accelerator. I suspect the idle air control valve, which I've tried to clean, but no luck.

Thanks a lot.
1. Easy (though kinda expensive) fix. You just need to replace the fan speed resistor pack. Make sure you get the one for the "LE" model, it is different than the base/DX version (LE = 6 pins, base/DX = 4 pins). They are available at the dealer (for big $$$) or at most parts stores for less (maybe $50?). It is located on/into the firewall in the passenger footwell, held on by one screw (look for a wiring plug that looks like it is plugged into a black plastic panel in the firewall).

2. Watch out with cutting the VSS wire near the ECU. This will work on older gen2 Camrys, but on the newer ones it will throw a check-engine light... I would suggest just living with it unless the pulsing is bad. It is the ECU turning on and turning off fuel to the cylinders when in decel mode. (something like RPMs below 1400, fuel turns on which bumps engine speed up with then causes fuel to stop being injected which then drops it back down, then the cycle repeats). It would happen on my auto Alltrac between about 25 and 35 mph.

-Charlie

03 WRX Wagon 5spd
89 Camry Alltrac LE 3S-GTE 5spd
88 Camry Alltrac LE 5spd - blown motor
Previous: 90 Camry 3S-GTE, 90 Camry DX
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#10 Old 02-01-2012, 08:46 AM
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Charlie,

Thanks for the information and caution on the VSS wire. On this fan speed resistor pack, is it possible to pull apart and replace the back resistor? If it is reasonable to attempt, I would give it a shot. Or, how about junk yard, though that would be taking a chance? It seems like you really know these cars well.

Perhaps you could give me insight into another issue my mother has with her 88 Camry. Sometimes the car won't start unless she wiggles the shifter (automatic) from side to side in park. I was thinking neutral safety switch, but since it is side to side, is there another switch on the gear selector itself?

Also, passenger rear window won't work. It used to have issues, I think breaking wire, becuase when drivers door was open too far, it wouldn't work, but when almost closed (or closed) the window would function. Possibly a brocken connection in the wire harness that feeds into the door at bottom.

Thanks for all your help and time. I really appreciate it.
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#11 Old 02-01-2012, 09:32 AM
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If shifter is sloppy (side to side) I would fix this first –fixing this may save you from messing up with neutral safety switch adjustment. This problem is very common on early Toyotas due to the plastic bushings wear. I used a short piece of copper pipe and 2 washers I believe 3/8”ID (all pipes are slightly oversize so it slided over 10mm shifter pivot rod). So far it works well; I did it 6 and1/2 years ago-sorry no pictures.

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#12 Old 02-01-2012, 11:21 AM
3s-gte in a Camry?!?
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamB View Post
Charlie,

Thanks for the information and caution on the VSS wire. On this fan speed resistor pack, is it possible to pull apart and replace the back resistor? If it is reasonable to attempt, I would give it a shot. Or, how about junk yard, though that would be taking a chance? It seems like you really know these cars well.

Also, passenger rear window won't work. It used to have issues, I think breaking wire, becuase when drivers door was open too far, it wouldn't work, but when almost closed (or closed) the window would function. Possibly a brocken connection in the wire harness that feeds into the door at bottom.

Thanks for all your help and time. I really appreciate it.
The resistors are high-wattage, small value open air wire-wound resistors... I was only able to find ceramic covered wire-wound resistors of those values, and they were too small (I tried it, they just burned up after a few weeks). The junkyard is a decent idea, you can visually inspect them pretty easily (check for broken coils). I just figured $50 for another 20 years was a good deal.

There are a few threads on here with how to repair the door wires - do a search and you can see the process. It is a regular problem on these cars now with their age... (I just fixed three wires in my driver's door harness a few months ago)

-Charlie

03 WRX Wagon 5spd
89 Camry Alltrac LE 3S-GTE 5spd
88 Camry Alltrac LE 5spd - blown motor
Previous: 90 Camry 3S-GTE, 90 Camry DX
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#13 Old 02-02-2012, 12:38 AM
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Doctor J,

How do I get to the shifter bushings to replace/repair? Do I remove the center consol and remove the shifter knob? Not sure how that all comes apart, but I could give it a try.

Charlie,

Next chance I get, I'll will head to the junkyard to look for the blower fan resistor. I assume it's mounted or near the blower?

Big question to all:

My mothers 88 Camry has a bad head gasket. Only leaks at front right corner, near the upper radiator hose/ temp sensor housing. We just keep putting water/coolant in it every few weeks. It used to leak worse before I threw some ground pepper in there. The car runs fine and doesn't blow smoke, so I think it mostly an external leak, and a little is getting into the oil (residue under oil cap and small sign of it in catch can). Any thoughts/suggestions on fixing without pulling the head and doing the gasket? I know there are many things you can dump into the system that say they will fix, but I'm leary.

Thanks,

Adam
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#14 Old 02-02-2012, 08:57 AM
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The center console (with the radio and heater controls) stays in place ,the box around the parking brake and trim around the shifter must be moved out of the way the gear indicator and shift knob are staying in place.
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#15 Old 02-02-2012, 12:30 PM
3s-gte in a Camry?!?
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamB View Post
Charlie,

Next chance I get, I'll will head to the junkyard to look for the blower fan resistor. I assume it's mounted or near the blower?

Big question to all:

My mothers 88 Camry has a bad head gasket. Only leaks at front right corner, near the upper radiator hose/ temp sensor housing. We just keep putting water/coolant in it every few weeks. It used to leak worse before I threw some ground pepper in there. The car runs fine and doesn't blow smoke, so I think it mostly an external leak, and a little is getting into the oil (residue under oil cap and small sign of it in catch can). Any thoughts/suggestions on fixing without pulling the head and doing the gasket? I know there are many things you can dump into the system that say they will fix, but I'm leary.

Thanks,

Adam
The resistor pack is right where I said it was in my first reply about it... behind the blower motor on the firewall, just above the front/top edge of the carpet. On your LE, it will have a 6 pin connector (with 4 wires) plugged into it, and it mounts in/on the firewall.

As for the head gasket - if you are seeing coolant residue in the oil, get that head gasket replaced ASAP (and probably timing belt, water pump, idler/tensioner pullies, and maybe cam/crank seals while you are in there). You are ruining the rest of the motor by having coolant in the oil.

-Charlie

03 WRX Wagon 5spd
89 Camry Alltrac LE 3S-GTE 5spd
88 Camry Alltrac LE 5spd - blown motor
Previous: 90 Camry 3S-GTE, 90 Camry DX
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