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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Everyone,

I own an 87 Camry 5spd. Awhile back, after running her very low on fuel, she started running rough under acceleration, a major loss of power and would want to die if given too much throttle. She would run fine on mostly level ground using only the slightest press of the gas pedal, but hills were a nightmare creeping along in first. She also started stalling out when first driving and wouldn't fire up again until I got a jump, then she would be fine, except with the loss of power. I then checked and set my timing to 10 degrees BTC. It was slightly off. Also did the cap/wires and rotor at this time. No change. The next day she was running considerably better, so I just figured the injector cleaner I put in, in case it was clogged injectors, had simply done it's work finally. I had power back, but had started having a "rattle" if given too much throttle or if I got close to the top of a gear. Then one day about a month ago, she stalled out on me and hasn't fired up since. So I got a Chilton's and started digging into what could be wrong. I'm at a loss and I'm down to a couple components that can't be tested. She occasionally tries to fire, but usually right when you are done cranking. After the coil was replaced, she tried a lil more to fire up, but only with the distributor turned counter-clockwise all the way. Fully advanced? Not sure. The motor is getting fuel and I have spark. I'll list what I've checked and/or replaced.

Compression test - good, 140, 145, 130, 128
Ignition coil - Replaced, old one had a crack although it tested good.
Cap/wires and rotor - Replaced.
Plugs - replaced.
Valve timing - good.
MAF sensor - good, I believe, Chilton's and a pic I saw here on the forums both say that the VC-E2 resistance should be 3k - 7k for the 3SFE, 200 - 400 for the 2VZ-FE. Mine comes in at about 280, as did 4 others in the junkyard. Thinking those values are backwards.
Ignitor - Not testable, Replaced with unit from the junkyard.
ECU - Not testable, plan to replace with a unit from the junkyard.
Oh yeah, I tested the TPS and

So that is the majority of what I've done so far to no avail. Also, the throttle body was removed and thoroughly cleaned. A good friend works as a tech for Toyota and he is leaning towards the ECU at this time. I came across a couple threads here that describe my exact situation, but no solution was ever posted. I was originally looking in the fuel system for the issue, thinking clogged injectors or fuel filter. Replaced the filter, pump is working because the plugs are wet after trying to get her started for a min. Plugs are also properly gapped. I think that is everything, my brain is fried having spent the last week banging my head against this problem.

Any ideas would be appreciated. It seems I'm at the point where I just have to start throwing new components at it until it's fixed, and that sucks, super bad.

Thank you in advance,

KorunRaa
 

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Toyota Collector
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Try running a ground wire to the igniter body right from the battery.
 

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When setting timing you're supposed to jump two wires together in the OBD 1 port first. Sounds like you didn't do that and the timing is too far advanced. I can't remember the two wires but this recently came up in the last few weeks. I suppose a search would be in order.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I did jump the terminals. Every test I performed was to the instructions in the Chilton's and each was done 3-4 times to be sure. Also, the problem started before I did the timing. There was a slight difference, but essentially, no change. So if anyone else suspects an oversight or error on my side, you'll have to take up with Chilton's. 😁
The car didn't stall and stay dead until about a week or better after I dialed in the timing.

I'm heading out to reinstall my ECU and put everything back together to try this ground wire on the ignitor. I can't try a swapped ECU until I can go get one from the junkyard tomorrow.
 

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If the MAF connected? Fuel pump won't run without it. Since you have compression and say you have spark that only leaves a lack of fuel. BTW I bought a '87 as a parts car awhile back had a crank no start condition, checked for spark I had it. Grounded the igniter fired right up so the spark I saw was too weak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I do believe my spark is weak. I'm getting plenty of fuel, plugs come out wet after cranking. I just put everything back together and I came across something that might be a contributor. I found a hole in the vacuum line that connects the throttle body to the BVSV. I'll need to run to the parts store and get a new line before I bother trying to fire it up. Anyone know if this would affect it firing up? Actually, I'm going to go see what happens. I have some heat shrink tubing I could temp patch it just to see if it's part of the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The ground wire did the trick. Had her going, but I place my jumper too soon and stalled it. Gonna charge her up and hopefully have her rollin' tonight. Thank you for that most awesome tip.
 

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Cool. I recommend you make a ground wire that goes from the negative terminal then to the frame that the igniter bolts to and also directly to one of the screws on the igniter. This is a strange design by Toyota it's not smart to rely on body ground for something so critical.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah I ran it on the upper screw between the body and the mount. Just made sure I ran some scotch Brite on the back to take any paint or crap off around the hole. I would have been chasing and replacing and getting no where. Thanks again. Never would I have thought of that.
 

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Took me a few hours to think of it, what tipped me off is seeing how the factory runs grounds to the frame so they were at least trying to ensure good grounding meaning it was important. I wonder how many of these cars get scrapped because of this, you can do all the proper tests and find nothing wrong but the car still won't run.
 

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3s-gte in a Camry?!?
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I recommend you make a ground wire that goes from the negative terminal then to the frame that the igniter bolts to and also directly to one of the screws on the igniter.
I did this on my 3s-gte swap as a just-in-case... (it mounts up on the firewall in that case)

On the 3s-fe design with the ignitor right next to the battery, rust issues can really cause problems with the ground, especially at this age.

As was reading the original story, it sounds just like a coil issue. The coil was likely the original problem, but the ignitor happened later with the 'sudden' stall.

-Charlie
 

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As was reading the original story, it sounds just like a coil issue. The coil was likely the original problem, but the ignitor happened later with the 'sudden' stall.

-Charlie
The coil is "always" the problem on these cars so I bet you're right there were multiple issues.
 

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3s-gte in a Camry?!?
'89 Camry Alltrac
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The coil is "always" the problem on these cars so I bet you're right there were multiple issues.
Well, with the 4-cylinder it is. ;)

-Charlie
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, after having it running a bit last night before killing it with the jumper, it seems I now have a new issue.....no fuel. Plugs were consistently wet before she fired up last night. Today I pulled the plugs and got a new set just because. Getting good looking spark, but when I pulled the plugs, completely dry. Fuel flows when the MAF door is opened, but the injectors don't seem to be activating. Nothing has changed from last night to this morning except a new set of plugs. Gotta walk away for a bit or it's gonna get ugly, I'm so damn frustrated.
 

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Ground is hard to see, about middle of intake right against the firewall. Turn the key to ON observe if the check engine light is on, if not the EFI relay may have a bad connection this happened to me (no start condition). I replaced the relay problem never came back.
 

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3s-gte in a Camry?!?
'89 Camry Alltrac
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Ground locations:
  • Alternator bracket to power steering reservoir
  • Battery to fender and top of transmission
  • (auto only) Transmission to frame rail under battery

The ECU and engine wiring grounds to the engine on the #2 runner behind/below the manifold. Probably easiest to access from below the car, but maybe you can see/feel it from above?

Not high on my list of possibilities, but odd stuff can happen!

-Charlie
 

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The ECU and engine wiring grounds to the engine on the #2 runner behind/below the manifold. Probably easiest to access from below the car, but maybe you can see/feel it from above?

Not high on my list of possibilities, but odd stuff can happen!

-Charlie
Car will not start if this is loose or not connected. Source: I forgot to tighten the bolt
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I found the intake ground, came across pics in another thread. I'll check that here soon, but it wasn't loose. Upon checking my spark again, it is still a weak spark (orange in color). I noticed the ignitor I picked up from an 89 had a different part number on it. Switched back to the original, no change. Things get a lil confusing because I have the engine electrical of an automatic even though I have a 5spd. TPS is for an automatic with ECT, but no ECT. ECM matches the one for an automatic w/ ECT. The ground from the transmission to the "frame rail" under the battery, by that do you mean the one on the battery tray? If so, than I have that one as well, even though I have a 5spd. I wouldn't think it would be a big deal as the car was running fine the year and a half I've owned it before all this started.

Going through the book and from tidbits in other threads, I'm starting to lean toward a new distributor, which isn't the one I'm supposed to have. According to the Chilton's, my distributor is for 90-91 models, not the 87-89 models. I'm basing that off where the air gap gets checked. The distributor passes all the checks, but there is some oil inside the housing, not sure if that could be my issue. There are a couple holes in the bottom of the housing that look like they're drain holes, so maybe a lil is normal? I was contemplating disassembling the distributor and cleaning it all up.

EFI relay was fine, check engine light comes on when the key is on. I have a few more checks to to look at also that weren't in the book, but I found in other threads here. Once I find them again that is.

One thing I noticed and it's had me thinking because I know they can be an issue with the older cars that run off points and that would be the condenser. The book says nothing about it and I haven't noticed it mentioned here at all. Anyone think that could be an issue in this setup?

Oooh! One other thing and I know it's bad, but I don't think I hurt anything. When it died and wouldn't start I thought MAF because I had similar issues with a 91 I used to have and it was the MAF. I thought mine was bad because the resistance values didn't match the book on one set of terminals. The VC - E2 is listed as 3k-7k ohms for the 3S-FE, 200 - 400 ohms for the 2VZ-FE. I get a lil over 200 ohms on mine and 3 other MAFs from the junkyard, leading me to think the values are swapped in the book. Anyway, and this was prior to coming here, I pulled the screws out of the MAF and started to remove it, but quickly realized it wasn't right. I had it pulled out maybe an 1/8th of an inch and put it back. All the values are still correct and activating the door engages the fuel pump, so I don't think I've done any damage, but full disclosure to be safe. Off to clean up some grounds. Thank you everyone for your time and advice. I will keep ya posted.
 
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