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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings,
I recently purchased a 1996 Corolla base (145k miles) with the 1.6l 4A-FE engine that refuses to start. When I bought it, it did start and I was able to drive it home. It had been sitting for at least a year to my knowledge, so I decided to change the fluids. After changing both the engine oil, transmission fluid and differential fluid, the car will not start. I don't think changing the fluids and the no-start are related. The check engine light is not on, and I believe the engine is getting fuel, as I can smell it. The engine cranks and sounds like it's about to start, but it doesn't. Attached is a video that shows this happening. I checked all of the ignition/fuel related fuses, and all of them seem ok. I also shorted the pins in the diagnostic port in attempt to get flash codes, but the check engine light stayed off. I have read of the check engine light burning out and the ECM not working, but i'm not convinced the ECM is faulty. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Video:
 

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Why are you only cranking it for only one second? It sounds like it may start if you cranked a little longer. Maybe you tried it, but not in the video?

The check engine light should come on when you first turn the key to ON also.

With key ON you can jump W to E1 in the diagnostic port and this will directly ground the check engine light bulb to check if it's burned out. W comes from the bulb and E1 is ground. The bulb is powered through the GAUGE fuse, so that fuse can't be blown either. And GAUGE has 40A AM1 fusible link before it, so that can't be blown.

I don't think you can flash codes on 1996-97. You need to read codes with an OBDII reader. You can get cheap (<$20) ones that connect to your smartphone. If you can't communicate with ECU this way then either ECU is bad or power to ECU is bad, or wiring to OBDII port.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Why are you only cranking it for only one second? It sounds like it may start if you cranked a little longer. Maybe you tried it, but not in the video?

The check engine light should come on when you first turn the key to ON also.

With key ON you can jump W to E1 in the diagnostic port and this will directly ground the check engine light bulb to check if it's burned out. W comes from the bulb and E1 is ground. The bulb is powered through the GAUGE fuse, so that fuse can't be blown either. And GAUGE has 40A AM1 fusible link before it, so that can't be blown.

I don't think you can flash codes on 1996-97. You need to read codes with an OBDII reader. You can get cheap (<$20) ones that connect to your smartphone. If you can't communicate with ECU this way then either ECU is bad or power to ECU is bad, or wiring to OBDII port.
DrZ,
We did try cranking it for longer outside of the video, and it still doesn't start. It catches enough to disengage the starter (tries to start) but it still doesn't. With the key on, the check engine light remains off. I did check the GAUGE fuse and it is good. I also tried shorting the two pins in the diagnostic port, and the check engine light still stays off. Does that mean definitively that the bulb itself is bad? Is the check engine light supposed to come on even if the ECU is bad?
 

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When you turn the key to the on position all the dashboard light should come on. This is to give you a visual cue that they are working. Are other lights coming on (other than the check engine light)? If it's isolated to the check engine light it's probably the bulb. If it's no lights coming on it's probably something else and you'll have to check the fuses and wiring (and yes, potentially the ECU but agree it's low on the list of suspects).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
When you turn the key to the on position all the dashboard light should come on. This is to give you a visual cue that they are working. Are other lights coming on (other than the check engine light)? If it's isolated to the check engine light it's probably the bulb. If it's no lights coming on it's probably something else and you'll have to check the fuses and wiring (and yes, potentially the ECU but agree it's low on the list of suspects).
94RollaDad,
By all of the lights do you mean every single one? Because right now, the only lights that come on and stay on are the oil light, the battery light, the parking brake light, and the seatbelt light. The airbag light does come on and turns off after a few seconds, and it is the only light that does this. I attached a video of this happening. I think its kind of ridiculous for all of the other bulbs are burnt out, so im leaning towards wiring or the ECU. Are there any other fuses related to the dashboard lights besides the GAUGE fuse?
Video:
 

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According to the FSM if the bulb is working it’s either a wiring fault in the TE1/TE2 terminal circuit or the ECU.

Start by testing voltage on the diagnostic connectors:

Ignition switch on
Use a voltmeter and measure voltage between TE1 and E1 and also between TE2 and E1. Voltage should be between 9 and 12 V. If not it says it’s the ECU at fault.

Second check continuity between E1 and ground. If no good the harness or connector is bad.

Third check for open or short on wiring between diagnostic port and ECU (obviously a lot more involved to check so before you do at least verify the bulb is working).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
According to the FSM if the bulb is working it’s either a wiring fault in the TE1/TE2 terminal circuit or the ECU.

Start by testing voltage on the diagnostic connectors:

Ignition switch on
Use a voltmeter and measure voltage between TE1 and E1 and also between TE2 and E1. Voltage should be between 9 and 12 V. If not it says it’s the ECU at fault.

Second check continuity between E1 and ground. If no good the harness or connector is bad.

Third check for open or short on wiring between diagnostic port and ECU (obviously a lot more involved to check so before you do at least verify the bulb is working).
64RollaDad,
I tested the voltage between TE1 and E1, and it read about 11.67 V. My car doesn't have contacts in the TE2 spot so I wasn't able to check that one. There is continuity between E1 and ground, so I believe the connector is good. Now I'm thinking the bulbs are burnt, as ridiculous as it sounds. Should I try and find an open short between the diagnostic port and the ECU even if I got a reading between TE1 and E1? If so where is the ECU? I've read that its behind the center console but I haven't checked yet.
 

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The ECM can be accessed from the passenger side footwell.

It sounds like it tries to start. Have you tried giving it gas while starting? Here's one of my starts after sitting for a while, I had to give it gas while starting.


 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The ECM can be accessed from the passenger side footwell.

It sounds like it tries to start. Have you tried giving it gas while starting? Here's one of my starts after sitting for a while, I had to give it gas while starting.


Apples555,
I tried your method and it worked! Now it starts up right away. Do you know of anything I can do to prevent this in the future?
 

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I've had my '95 for a long time and it's always been a little hard to start after sitting for a while, especially at an incline. All it needs is a little gas at startup.

Be sure to change the CEL bulb (type 74).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've had my '95 for a long time and it's always been a little hard to start after sitting for a while, especially at an incline. All it needs is a little gas at startup.

Be sure to change the CEL bulb (type 74).
Apples555,
I do find it weird that the car started two days before this whole thing started, so in that aspect it hadn't been sitting for a while, but i'm not going to question it. I will make sure to replace the check engine light bulb.
 

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Two days is a little short, but it had been sitting for a year before that. Maybe something is/was impeding fuel flow.
 

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Getting the instrument cluster out to check/change the bulb is pretty simple on these cars. There are just 2 screws holding the top part of the bezel. You point the screw driver up. After those are out you need to wiggle or lightly tug the lower part which is held in by clips. After that there are 4 screws holding the cluster in then you pull the cluster out and reach behind to disconnect the 3 wire connectors. This is all a little easier if you have a tilt steering wheel that you can lower. Just try not to drop any of the screws behind the dash.
 

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Test and measure TPS position and angle when throttle is closed.
Verify that idle-switch is closed to signal to ECU use idle fuel & ignition settings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I removed the gauge cluster to replace the check engine light bulb, but there was no bulb or plastic holder there. I suspect someone had enough of it and just removed the whole thing. I replaced it with the overdrive off light, which makes no difference to me as I have the 3-speed. I started the car (yes it started right up) and unfortunately, the check engine light remains on. I realize that it could be caused by hundreds of things, but could a bad TPS be the cause even if the car starts? When I drove the car home it didn't seem to have trouble accelerating, and it definitely doesn't have trouble at idle.
IMG_20210713_145549485_HDR[1].jpg
 

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Bridge TE1 and E1 with a paper clip and turn the ignition on. Count the number of blinks. It will be two sequences (or multiple pairs) to form one or more two-digit numbers. Post the numbers here and we can look up the DTC and give you a hit as to what's going on.
 

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I don't think a 1996 model will blink the codes. You have to use an OBDII code reader. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought I tried it on my 1997. You can still bridge TE1 and E1 with the engine idling to check the idle speed and base timing, but that is only to check them -- they are both non-adjustable on OBDII models (96-97).
 
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