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1992 Toyota Camry DX, 5SFE, 5 Speed Manual
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Discussion Starter #1
This morning on my way to work, I was doing 65 on a highway when out of nowhere my car just shuddered, thought nothing of it and kept going, after a minute it did it again but lost some power. then after about 15 seconds the car just died.
That's a scary thing at 65 mph. Pulled it off the road and it wont start... cranks over, sucks, blows but no bang.

within the last 2k miles I've:
  • Changed spark plugs, wires, distributor cap, and rotor.
  • Changed Fuel Filter
  • Pulled TB and cleaned IAC and Butterfly Valve.
  • Changed Oil
None of the Fuses seem to be blown, and the oil Isn't Milky. Also most likely not the timing belt, I fixed an oil leak and the belt is only maybe 10,000 miles old (looked brand new).
:poop: so the first thing I can think of is maybe the fuel pump died? Anyone have a way I could test this without fancy Gauges and stuff? I have standard tools at home.

also if it is the fuel pump do I have to drop the tank?

Thank you!
 

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I had the same thing happen years ago when my battery suddenly died. I didn't know that the alternator had failed at some point prior but the total electrical failure symptoms were the same. You are checking the secondary items, plugs, pump, but is the battery obviously still good?
 

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01 Avalon XL, 03 Avalon XL
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Just a guess, but I'm thinking you could hear the fuel pump priming when someone turns the key to Start. I'd have to experiment, but maybe a length of PVC water pipe, one end against the fuel tank and the other against your ear. Make the pipe long enough that NO part of your body is under the car or in the path of a wheel moving front or back.

(My fuel pump experience is only in the Ford Taurus world, where the priming spool-up is a very noticeable sound -- Toyota pumps are very much more quiet.)

If your fuel pump doesn't spool up on start, then you have fun times ahead of you. The cheapest/easiest experiment is to replace the fuel pump relay. After that, you have to do diagnostics.

If the 92 is like later Camrys, there's an access panel under your back seat. The panel's sort of glued down with body mastic. Pop that up and you'll have access to the fuel pump wiring and fuel line as well as a lock ring or screws for the whole fuel pump assembly. (My Avalon's back seat comes out easy-peasy by lifting up, but I think Camry or at least some years of Camrys has a hook dingus that takes some finagling to get it it to turn loose of the underside of the back seat.)

Once you get to the wires at the pump, if the connector gets power during the Start sequence and the pump doesn't prime, then it's probably the pump. You can get the whole pump/fuel gauge sensor/cover as a drop-in assembly ($$$) or just the pump ($$). Replacing just the pump has its own challenges -- there's a short but stout fuel line from the pump outlet to the underside of the cover. One of my favorite youTube mechanics, Eric O of South Main Auto, has a video on a Camry fuel pump video where the owner had apparently tried to swap out just the pump, but put holes in the short pipe probably by ripping it off with vise-grips... resulting in insufficient pressure to run the engine. Video (it's part II, can't find part I right now:
)

If the pump doesn't get power, then you'll need a wiring diagram to identify all the connectors and the routing of the pump wires and check everything for opens/breaks, shorting due to abrasion, etc.
 

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1992 Toyota Camry DX, 5SFE, 5 Speed Manual
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Discussion Starter #6
If you spray starter fluid does it start? Do you have fuel? Not just on the gauge, throw a gallon or two in the tank.
Actually haven't had a chance to spray starter fluid into it yet it's still in the side of the highway, had a co-worker pick me up. After work I'm towing it to my place and I will spray it with starter fluid and see if she fires or not. And I filled it up with 11.8 gallons of gas last night. I should have 18.5 gal in the tank.

I had the same thing happen years ago when my battery suddenly died. I didn't know that the alternator had failed at some point prior but the total electrical failure symptoms were the same. You are checking the secondary items, plugs, pump, but is the battery obviously still good?
That's a good point, but I did replace the battery and had the alternator tested about 1500 miles ago or give or take 3 weeks ago?
My car does crank over and has power, it just wont start only crank.
 

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On the 4 cyl 5S-FE, don't completely discount the possibility of the timing belt slipping. It has a spring-loaded tensioner for the initial installation, but the tensioner pulley gets locked in place with a bolt. So as the belt stretches, it gets slack. That's when it jumps out of time. Does the engine seem to crank over too fast?... That's an indicator of a slipped belt.

But try the starter fluid first. If that won't get 'er to fire, then look at the timing belt to see if it's jumped out of time.
 

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1992 Toyota Camry DX, 5SFE, 5 Speed Manual
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Discussion Starter #8
Just a guess, but I'm thinking you could hear the fuel pump priming when someone turns the key to Start. I'd have to experiment, but maybe a length of PVC water pipe, one end against the fuel tank and the other against your ear. Make the pipe long enough that NO part of your body is under the car or in the path of a wheel moving front or back.

(My fuel pump experience is only in the Ford Taurus world, where the priming spool-up is a very noticeable sound -- Toyota pumps are very much more quiet.)

If your fuel pump doesn't spool up on start, then you have fun times ahead of you. The cheapest/easiest experiment is to replace the fuel pump relay. After that, you have to do diagnostics.

If the 92 is like later Camrys, there's an access panel under your back seat. The panel's sort of glued down with body mastic. Pop that up and you'll have access to the fuel pump wiring and fuel line as well as a lock ring or screws for the whole fuel pump assembly. (My Avalon's back seat comes out easy-peasy by lifting up, but I think Camry or at least some years of Camrys has a hook dingus that takes some finagling to get it it to turn loose of the underside of the back seat.)

Once you get to the wires at the pump, if the connector gets power during the Start sequence and the pump doesn't prime, then it's probably the pump. You can get the whole pump/fuel gauge sensor/cover as a drop-in assembly ($$$) or just the pump ($$). Replacing just the pump has its own challenges -- there's a short but stout fuel line from the pump outlet to the underside of the cover. One of my favorite youTube mechanics, Eric O of South Main Auto, has a video on a Camry fuel pump video where the owner had apparently tried to swap out just the pump, but put holes in the short pipe probably by ripping it off with vise-grips... resulting in insufficient pressure to run the engine. Video (it's part II, can't find part I right now:
)

If the pump doesn't get power, then you'll need a wiring diagram to identify all the connectors and the routing of the pump wires and check everything for opens/breaks, shorting due to abrasion, etc.
Here's part I or Eric O's video, shows details for an 07 that quit while driving down the road. It's got all the main things to check:
OleAvalon, thank you for the very informative answer. I will watch these and check all the stuff everyone has recommended. I appreciate everyone's answers! I have a great base to start from now. I just didnt know what to think. It's a 28 year old car, so cant complain to much :censored:.

I will first crank with some starter fluid to make sure she wants to run. Then I will check the fuel pump specifics. I do most of my own auto repairs and have done a couple of pumps, I'm glad to hear theres an access panel! I had to drop a 35 gal tank on my dodge... it was full as well when it died..

I will get back here if I have any questions that you knowledgeable toyota owners might have answers to. This is my first toyota and so far it's been a great car!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
On the 4 cyl 5S-FE, don't completely discount the possibility of the timing belt slipping. It has a spring-loaded tensioner for the initial installation, but the tensioner pulley gets locked in place with a bolt. So as the belt stretches, it gets slack. That's when it jumps out of time. Does the engine seem to crank over too fast?... That's an indicator of a slipped belt.

But try the starter fluid first. If that won't get 'er to fire, then look at the timing belt to see if it's jumped out of time.
That's come to my head, I just had the cover off and double checked timing about 1800 miles ago, the belt was good and after timing it, I followed the service manuals recommendations for the timing belt. And then locked the tensioner. I believe it was 18 ft. lbs but could have been a little more it was about a month ago ?. And no it seems to crank just as it would normally just without the amazing/satisfying VROOM it does when it catches. I Will keep this in the back of my mind when diagnosing. Thank you BMR!
 

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Just remembered another possibility...

The ignition coil on the '92-'95 5S-FE is inside the distributor, under the cap. They're very prone to failing at this age, due to the heat. Pull the cap off and the dust cover over the coil, and have a look. They tend to crack where they're potted with white epoxy. Sometimes they'll come back to life when they cool down, and it'll run fine for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just remembered another possibility...

The ignition coil on the '92-'95 5S-FE is inside the distributor, under the cap. They're very prone to failing at this age, due to the heat. Pull the cap off and the dust cover over the coil, and have a look. They tend to crack where they're potted with white epoxy. Sometimes they'll come back to life when they cool down, and it'll run fine for a while.
Hmm, definitely going to check that then, I mean I'm open to checking this stuff as the car has 312,488 miles on the clock :oops:, And if it runs when its cooled down after work, well then I will change the ignition coil. If it doesn't fix the issue after being replaced, well then I don't have to worry about it later :cool: I'm going to use a mechanics stethoscope and listen for the fuel pump to whirr in the tank for the prime cycle as well.

Thanks again BMR!
 

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mechanics stethoscope and listen for the fuel pump to whirr in the tank for the prime cycle as well.
Be aware, the pump doesn't run simply with the key in the ON position. It runs only in the START position (engine cranking), and then after it starts. I've never been able to hear mine run, but maybe you will, using a stethoscope.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
the pump doesn't run simply with the key in the ON position. It runs only in the START position (engine cranking)
Wow, thats crazy, I believe there is a jumper in the diagnostic terminal you can jump {FP jumped to B+?} that supposedly puts power to the fuel pump without having to crank it.
 

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I believe there is a jumper in the diagnostic terminal you can jump {FP jumped to B+?} that supposedly puts power to the fuel pump without having to crank it.
Correct, I think the key still needs to be in the ON position though. But on some Camrys, the FP position has no contact stuffed into it. I suspect that's the later years?
 

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Verify spark, timing and fuel. I'm going to guess compression is OK. My guess is your distributor has gone end of life. Had the exact thing happen to me in our '94 5SFE. You get good at evasive driving the hard way.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Correct, I think the key still needs to be in the ON position though. But on some Camrys, the FP position has no contact stuffed into it. I suspect that's the later years?
I am thinking that's the case, probably for ecu controlled pumps in the later years, especially with OBD 2 in 96. Probably have to get one fancy scanner to do to the fuel pump what a simple jumper should do on the earlier ones.Is the ignition coil a simple unplug and swap or is it a PITA with timing and stuff like that involved, just wanna know if I need more tools than a screwdriver, wrench and more than likely a beer.

Verify spark, timing and fuel. I'm going to guess compression is OK. My guess is your distributor has gone end of life. Had the exact thing happen to me in our '94 5SFE. You get good at evasive driving the hard way.
Yeah, I dont think it's a loss of compression myself. It cranks like it's got compression. I'll definitely be checking or maybe just changing the ignition coil to be safe now that two people have brought it to my attention. And yeah, thankfully I was in the right lane, otherwise pulling off would have been interesting.

Thank you!
 

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Is the ignition coil a simple unplug and swap or is it a PITA with timing and stuff like that involved, just wanna know if I need more tools than a screwdriver, wrench and more than likely a beer.
Yes, it's a simple swap. No ignition timing check is required afterward, as you won't be disturbing the disty's angular position.
 

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If/when you check your ignition coil, don't forget about the condenser mounted inside the distributor. Have seen them melt out and short to ground which will blow a fuse and cause your engine to suddenly die. It's a $2-3 part as well so good idea to replace it when doing the coil
 

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Discussion Starter #19
After work yesterday, we did a sketchy tow back to my place.
I tried to start the car with starter fluid and it didn't even try to turn over, so I decided to use my mechanics stethoscope to listen for the pump in the tank. I have a strong sounding fuel pump.
I made sure all relays were clicking on and off, and all was good.
I Pulled the timing cover partially away and looked at the belt and its got plenty of tension. just the same as when I checked it about 1800 miles ago.
So I pulled the number 1 spark plug boot and put an Allen key in the end to make contact and had a friend crank it and, there was no spark at all.
At this point it was dark, and I didn't feel like digging into it at night.

Yes, it's a simple swap. No ignition timing check is required afterward, as you won't be disturbing the disty's angular position.
If/when you check your ignition coil, don't forget about the condenser mounted inside the distributor. Have seen them melt out and short to ground which will blow a fuse and cause your engine to suddenly die. It's a $2-3 part as well so good idea to replace it when doing the coil
So, I am going to replace the ignition coil, and I will replace the condenser as well and see if this fixes the issue, however I wanted to know if there is a way to test the coil before changing it?
 

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There are a couple of resistance checks. For the Gen3 5S-FE:

5S-FE, cold (< 50C):
Primary, 0.36-0.55 ohms
Secondary: 9.0-15.4 ohms

See pic below for details.

That primary resistance is so low, it's hard for most meters to get a good read on it. But if you find it an open circuit, or zero ohms, you know something's wrong.
293770
 
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