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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
1991 V6, 170k miles, auto transmssion:

While going up a huge hill last night at 25 to 30 mph, engine kicked down to a lower gear to get the torque it needed to maintain speed. About 5 seconds later the engine lost power and the car coasted to a fairly quick stop (going up big hill). All the lights on the dash were on.

The engine turns over nicely, my imagination says it sounds like its turning over TOO easily like a timing belt broke...but I know this has a timing chain.

No spark at the plugs...none at the coil. I found myself wondering if a temp sensor could disable the ignition system...I found that the radiator cap had been leaking a little steam and water whe I opened the hood last night, though the temp gauge on the dash was reading normal.

Had wife pick me up and bring me home so I could figure out how to check the DTCs, which is my next step. I'll go back to the car tonight after work and pull the codes, check the crank sensor I've read about that should be in the distributor, check compression on a couple of cylinders, and verify there's fuel pressure.

Any tips on most common failures in this scenario? Any guesses on what it will end up being?

edit: OK, upon further research it appears the V6 may have a timing BELT, not a CHAIN. Damn! At least it's a non-interference engine...right?
 

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2002 Camry
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Yes non interference.

Sounds like electrical trouble alright, so you can probably rule out fuel or air. No spark and no power at the coil, i'd suspect the alternator - i've seen it happen when they are slowly dying and yet the dash light never comes on to tell you. It doesnt run so you'd have to remove it to check, it might have had enough power to keep the dash lights on when it died but not enough to run -

You can check the timing belt easily enough, remove the distributor cap and see if the rotor turns when you crank it over. If it doesnt turn, maybe the distributor shaft is broken (not likely but this happened to me once).
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
so what's the easiest way to confirm the integrity of the timing belt. Removing the distributor cap while parked on a cold dark street sounds less than appealing. (why is that thing buried so deeply, anyway?)

Can one more easily peek inside the upper timing belt cover? (I'm deskbound 8-5 and trying to work out these details in my head before driving the 6 miles after work to where the car is broken down.)
 

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There is 3 inch inspection rubber plug on the timing belt cover behind the alternator. Remove 3 bolts and the brace, then pry out this rubber plug. Crank the engine and watch the cam sprocket.If if the belt broke the cam will not turn
 

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Bullitprooph
1991 Celica GT-S
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1,501 Posts
The only time I ever had a timing belt break was on my first Corolla, and after it broke, the starter would not even turn over. I've never followed-up on this, but it seemed like there was a disabling feature which prevented the starter from cranking the flywheel...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It's the timing belt, alright. I could take off several of the 10mm bolts holding the TB cover on and peek in enough to see the shredded timing belt.
 

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Bullitprooph
1991 Celica GT-S
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1,501 Posts
Oh man, I'm sorry to hear that. It must've been one old belt, though. The recommended replacement is every 90K, but mine's got over twice that now and it still looks damned good. I took it to an ex-Yota mechanic for a professional inspection as well, just to be sure; he said I've probably got another 100K left on the belt. Stretching is my only concern...

Ah hell, thank God for non-interference.:eek:
 

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2015 Subaru WRX STI
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I had my timing belt break on me as well. I was entering the freeway, it downshifted to a lower gear, then the engine quit and I coasted to a stop. I tried starting it but it just wouldnt turn over. All my lights and stereo were on as well, so it wasnt a battery/alternator problem.

I brought it in and it was the timing belt that had to be replaced.
 
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