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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all! I'm new, having just stumbled upon the site after doing some research on this issue. I have a 1991 Camry V6 with 120k miles on it. Great car! But it just quit starting/running! No previous symptoms or trouble at all. What happened is this:

We drove it all day long as usual, then parked it for the night. That night, we hard a hard freeze and ice storm. The next day was super cold too, so we didn't go anywhere. The next day after that, go out to start the car and it turned over a few times but then went to a sound like a power drill. Now, every time you crank it there's no loping sound like it's trying to kick the motor over, just the power drill sound.

We thought it might be a timing issue so we took off the front cover and replaced the timing belt and water pump (needed to be done anyway). The timing belt was worn with a few teeth missing but not completely shot. Installed the new one without much trouble. Tried cranking it, still get that whirrrrr sound with no engine lope like it was trying to kick over. So then we figured it must be a starter issue. Took the starter off and had it bench tested at Autozone, it tested bad, so we got another starter. Still getting the power drill whirring sound. I had also picked up a starter from CarQuest and we tried that one too, no luck.

We checked for spark and fuel, and have both. We replaced the EFI relay just to see if that was the problem, it wasn't. All the fuses and relays within specs according to the ohmmeter and Haynes manual. Husband pulled the number 2 plug (since number one is a PITA to get to) and found that the plug was soaked with fuel. He said it looks like our timing is 180 degrees off - we hooked a timing light up and cranked the starter (with the whirrring sound) and the timing seems steady during the cranking process but he says it appears to be 180 off.

Any ideas what would have caused this to happen? Is there a sensor or something that would have gone bad? Has anyone ever encountered this problem before? I'm completely at a loss, and I really miss my car. Any help would be immensely appreciated! I just want to explore all possibilities before I have it towed to the mechanic and pay out my rear.

Thanks a ton!
 

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1988 Corolla SR-5
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What about your battery? How good is that?
The battery might be just strong enough to spin the starter but not strong enough to drive the solenoid forward to engage the ring gear.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks!

Battery is good - I let it trickle charge all night after we changed the starter thinking that might be it, but it still makes the same whirring sound when you crank it - turn the key it sounds like a power drill, it doesn't lope like it's trying to kick over. I can see the alternator belt turn when cranking on the starter so I assume that the crank is turning but I don't know why it's not even backfiring or sputtering or anything if it is a timing issue. I'm beginning to think that it's a flywheel problem, but I just don't know!

Thank you for your help!
 

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If the alternator belt is turning then it isn't the battery or the ring gear/fly wheel.

Do you have access to a compression testor? If not I suggest you get one from a local auto parts store and do a test. That should give you a good idea if your valve timing is out or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Zandro said:
have you checked the EFI fuse and other fuses?
Yes, as I stated above, we replaced the EFI relay just to see if that was the problem, it wasn't. All the fuses and relays within specs according to the ohmmeter and Haynes manual.

This is really frustrating! I just don't know why the car would have gone from running fine to being 180 off on the timing (or at least that's how it looks). Any ideas? I've been thinking distributor gear or something...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Donald said:
If the alternator belt is turning then it isn't the battery or the ring gear/fly wheel.

Do you have access to a compression testor? If not I suggest you get one from a local auto parts store and do a test. That should give you a good idea if your valve timing is out or not.
Yes, I think we have a compression tester in the garage... I'm just wondering how it is that the timing would have jumped like that, if that's the problem!

Thank you for your suggestion!
 

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Timing belts can jump. When you put a new timing belt on did you realign the crank and cams to spec or just put it where the old one was? A quick compression check would tell you a lot. Does the motor sound like it has compression when it turns over?


Gary
 

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Discussion Starter #9
When we replaced the timing belt we lined it up according to specs (at least we followed the manual word for word and matched everything up according to the way the book told us to).

The engine just sounds like a power drill - whirr - no loping sound, da-Da-dada-Da-dada-Da-dada.... I'm not sure if that's what you meant...

I guess next step is a compression check... will it be really low if the timing is off? Or within a certain range? I haven't researched this part yet, sorry :ugh3:
 

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3s-gte in a Camry?!?
'89 Camry Alltrac
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You were able to replace the timing belt but not figure this one out? :confused:

Check the teeth on the flexplate. It sounds like the starter isn't engaging the motor.

Or... pull of the distributor cap or one of the timing covers. Crank the motor. If it spins, you have big problems. If it doesn't spin, fix the starting system (starter, flexplate, wiring).

-Charlie
 

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monkeytoes said:
We thought it might be a timing issue so we took off the front cover and replaced the timing belt and water pump (needed to be done anyway). The timing belt was worn with a few teeth missing but not completely shot.
Just the fact that some teeth on the timing belt were gone tells me that the engine could have jumped time.
 

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Yah, that could be a HUGE problem, check your timing marks, make sure everything is "perfect" before trying again. I know these motors are non interferance, but you should still be careful.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all the suggestions. I just have a bad feeling that this is something dire - but maybe the timing belt just jumped and we didn't put the new one on exactly right. I guess we'll start with the compression check and then re-do the timing belt.

Any other suggestions or advice is always appreciated! Thanks again!
 

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Just for grins, if you end up taking the timing belt off, make sure the oil pump shaft is turning freely. Also, make sure all of the idler and tensioner pulleys are turning freely.
 

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"Power drill" sound insteado f normal cranking sound? To me, this means Starter motor is turning but its pinion gear is simply not engaqing the flywheel! Either the engine turns over or it doesnt, so it sounds to me like you have one or both of TWO problems? i.e. Engine wont crank, or engine cranks and wont start...

Yeah the timing belt change could have been botched, if you are SURE that the belt was put on right then the distributor could have been put in 180 degrees off.

To check the timing belt, remove the valve cover, then crank the engine using a big socket on crankshaft pulley nut turn crank by hand. line up the timing marks on the crank pulley and the plate on engine to TDC (top dead center), as if you were setting the timing. Now look at your valves on #1 cylinder, (the two valves closest to the front of the engine). they should both be fully closed (rockers and valve springs under no tension from the camshaft). If they are not, i would recheck the timing belt installation make sure all the marks were lined up etc.

If you are just getting the starter whirring noise as you say, have the battery tested if you didnt before. Just because it sat on a charger for a long time, doesnt mean it took the charge. Also make sure your battery terminal clamps are clean and tight enough, shim them with a small thin piece of copper if they are the least bit loose.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Problem fixed! Apparently, the motor jumped time and when the timing belt was changed it was installed exactly 180 degrees off. Reinstalling the timing belt seems to have solved the problem, thankfully. It ran really rough for a few minutes after we got it started but now it runs smooth and strong just like before.

Thanks for all the helpful replies - I'm just happy it's running again, and just as well as before :whatwhat:
 

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Good job. I think the original problem was your starter and when you replaced the timing belt it was installed improperly. Sounds like the rough running when it first started was due to the gas fouled plugs. After it has been running a bit the plugs clean themselves up if they start by firing weakly.

Mike
 
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