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Hi all,

I've been working on my 1994 Camry Wagon (4 cylinder, California emissions, 318,000 miles) for about 6 weeks, and I'm at the end of my rope. I decided it's finally time to stop just reading this forum and start asking some questions.

Here's a quick history (EDITED: I guess, not really quick after all. You can skip this and head to the bottom for a summary):
Six months ago I did a major tune-up. I replaced spark plugs, wires, the distributor, the vacuum switch and the valve cover gasket. The car had been running terrifyingly rough. I thought it was dying. After the tune-up (my first, by the way) it ran great. No problems! (except the vibration at idle, which I understand is really common for old Camrys)

Then, 6 weeks ago, driving home from my son's choir concert, it died as I turned the corner (slow speed) into my neighborhood---no sputtering--it just turned off. The next day, when I got to it to try to get it home (I was going to push it), it started right up. I drove it home and it sat in the garage while I did troubleshooting. Here's what I eventually did to try to fix it:

Took off the throttle body and cleaned it--couldn't get the Idle Air Control valve off all the way, so I poured the throttle body cleaner through it.
Cleaned the EGR valve which was outrageously dirty. I attached pictures of the EGR valve and throttle body before I cleaned them.
Replaced the Engine Coolant Temperature sensor (the old one came off in my hand, it was so thoroughly rusted)

After all this, the car started and ran, although the idle was high. I did test for a vacuum leak by spraying carb cleaner around the hoses while it was running, and didn't detect any leaks. I drove it for about a week until it failed to start on me in a drive through. I pushed the car out of the drive through line. After about 1/2 hour, it started again. I got it about 1 mile, and then it died at a stop sign.

I figured maybe I needed to actually clean the IAC valve, which I hadn't taken apart because of the badly stripped screws. With the help of a Dremel, I got the screws out and cleaned this as well. I put it back together, and took it for a test drive. It died at a stop light (although it started again within a minute). I found that the air flow meter was unplugged, so I plugged it in. Hoping that was it, I kept driving it.

When it failed to start again several days later, I decided to order a brand new IAC valve, in case the solenoid was faulty, or I had damaged it when I was cleaning it.

Replaced that. . . . .guess what. . . still not fixed. Would fail to start when warm (at least that seemed to be it) but would reliably start again after waiting a while. I kept driving it, but decided to order a new ignition coil, since that was another recommended fix for intermittent no starts. Well, before I could get it replaced, the car had a couple more no-starts, and then in a scary turn of events, died on the freeway. I had to pull to the side and wait until it would restart.

Tonight, I replaced the ignition coil. *sigh* and the car died at 30mph while driving on my test drive.

I'm about to give up on this crazy machine. . .even after all this work.

Here's a summary:

CLEANED: Throttle body & EGR valve (and replaced gaskets)
REPLACED
(also all the relevant gaskets): IAC valve, ECT sensor, Ignition coil. Six months ago, I replaced the valve cover gasket; distributor; spark plugs and wires and the EGR vacuum switch

Current symptoms:
1) Dying while driving, including at high speed
2) Intermittent failure to start while warm -- always starts if cold
3) Moderately high idle (1000 in gear, 1200 at idle)
4) faint "clicking" sound from the engine while running
5) throws a code "12"

Guys. . . .what do you think? Is it the CPU? What am I missing?

Thanks for your help, and for all the great information you have here. I've learned so much from this forum

Laura

 

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short-throw dipstick
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Hi all,

I've been working on my 1994 Camry Wagon (4 cylinder, California emissions, 318,000 miles) for about 6 weeks, and I'm at the end of my rope. I decided it's finally time to stop just reading this forum and start asking some questions.

Here's a quick history (EDITED: I guess, not really quick after all. You can skip this and head to the bottom for a summary):
Six months ago I did a major tune-up. I replaced spark plugs, wires, the distributor, the vacuum switch and the valve cover gasket. The car had been running terrifyingly rough. I thought it was dying. After the tune-up (my first, by the way) it ran great. No problems! (except the vibration at idle, which I understand is really common for old Camrys)

Then, 6 weeks ago, driving home from my son's choir concert, it died as I turned the corner (slow speed) into my neighborhood---no sputtering--it just turned off. The next day, when I got to it to try to get it home (I was going to push it), it started right up. I drove it home and it sat in the garage while I did troubleshooting. Here's what I eventually did to try to fix it:

Took off the throttle body and cleaned it--couldn't get the Idle Air Control valve off all the way, so I poured the throttle body cleaner through it.
Cleaned the EGR valve which was outrageously dirty. I attached pictures of the EGR valve and throttle body before I cleaned them.
Replaced the Engine Coolant Temperature sensor (the old one came off in my hand, it was so thoroughly rusted)

After all this, the car started and ran, although the idle was high. I did test for a vacuum leak by spraying carb cleaner around the hoses while it was running, and didn't detect any leaks. I drove it for about a week until it failed to start on me in a drive through. I pushed the car out of the drive through line. After about 1/2 hour, it started again. I got it about 1 mile, and then it died at a stop sign.

I figured maybe I needed to actually clean the IAC valve, which I hadn't taken apart because of the badly stripped screws. With the help of a Dremel, I got the screws out and cleaned this as well. I put it back together, and took it for a test drive. It died at a stop light (although it started again within a minute). I found that the air flow meter was unplugged, so I plugged it in. Hoping that was it, I kept driving it.

When it failed to start again several days later, I decided to order a brand new IAC valve, in case the solenoid was faulty, or I had damaged it when I was cleaning it.

Replaced that. . . . .guess what. . . still not fixed. Would fail to start when warm (at least that seemed to be it) but would reliably start again after waiting a while. I kept driving it, but decided to order a new ignition coil, since that was another recommended fix for intermittent no starts. Well, before I could get it replaced, the car had a couple more no-starts, and then in a scary turn of events, died on the freeway. I had to pull to the side and wait until it would restart.

Tonight, I replaced the ignition coil. *sigh* and the car died at 30mph while driving on my test drive.

I'm about to give up on this crazy machine. . .even after all this work.

Here's a summary:

CLEANED: Throttle body & EGR valve (and replaced gaskets)
REPLACED
(also all the relevant gaskets): IAC valve, ECT sensor, Ignition coil. Six months ago, I replaced the valve cover gasket; distributor; spark plugs and wires and the EGR vacuum switch

Current symptoms:
1) Dying while driving, including at high speed
2) Intermittent failure to start while warm -- always starts if cold
3) Moderately high idle (1000 in gear, 1200 at idle)
4) faint "clicking" sound from the engine while running
5) throws a code "12"

Guys. . . .what do you think? Is it the CPU? What am I missing?

Thanks for your help, and for all the great information you have here. I've learned so much from this forum

Laura

http://www.troublecodes.net/toyota/toyota-camry-cressida/

...as per the above link, code 12 is the RPM signal, which is generated by a coil in the distributor.

The idle speed and warm-start issues make me think you have a failed/malfunctioning IAC valve. Few things:

- warm up the engine to operating temp, then pull the intake air hose off the throttle body. You should see the IAC bypass port in front of the butterfly plate. Cover it with your finger. If the idle smooths out and drops to what it should be (750 +- 50 RPM), then you have an IAC problem.
- my experience has been that there's no substitute for properly cleaning an IAC valve on these Toys. The JIS screws (NOT Philips...get you some JIS drivers from Amazon. I use the Hozan ones, you want a #2) will be seized, so soak them in a penetrating lubricant (I like Aerokroil. PB Blaster is a fan favorite around here). You may need Vise-grips or an impact screwdriver. When reassembling, use hex cap screws (size M5x0.8x16) and split-lock washers, then you won't ever have a problem again.

Next question: what brand of distributor did you get? TBH the aftermarket offerings are junk, and you should get a good one from a Pick-n-pull. I had warm-start and dying-while-running issues on my '95...turned out to be a cracked distributor. Same goes for the IAC valve...nice to have a spare. They rarely go bad, usually just need a good cleaning.
 

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I don't think it's the IAC. The IAC is new. Dying at speed is not an IAC problem.

When the ECT was replaced, are you sure it was not the engine temp switch and not the ECT?

I would suggest that the next time it dies and won't start remove a spark plug and see if you are getting spark. Also carry a can of starter fluid to see if spraying a little into the throttle body helps it start.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I replaced the IAC valve with a brand new one last weekend, so I know that's not it. Yeah. . .I figured out about the JIS screws, and once I got them out, I did replace them with hex bolts! Great minds think alike, I guess.

I'm not sure what distributor I got -- I bought it at Autozone. I know it wasn't the most expensive one they had, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
@Stillrunning

Thanks for your reply. It was the ECT sensor I replaced, and also the "sender" which is right next to it, although that wasn't likely to affect this issue. I'll attach a pic, so you can see.

I think you're right about finding out why it won't start when I get the problem. The guy at the shop I go to told me the same thing this morning.

thanks!
 

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I don't think it's the IAC. The IAC is new. Dying at speed is not an IAC problem.

When the ECT was replaced, are you sure it was not the engine temp switch and not the ECT?

I would suggest that the next time it dies and won't start remove a spark plug and see if you are getting spark. Also carry a can of starter fluid to see if spraying a little into the throttle body helps it start.
I replaced the IAC valve with a brand new one last weekend, so I know that's not it. Yeah. . .I figured out about the JIS screws, and once I got them out, I did replace them with hex bolts! Great minds think alike, I guess.

I'm not sure what distributor I got -- I bought it at Autozone. I know it wasn't the most expensive one they had, though.
Whoops, I totally missed that the IAC valve was new! My bad.
 

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first of all laura, hats off to you for doing research, for reading through this forum on pertinent articles and for tackling your first tune-up. DIY is what we're all about here so you're in good company. alot to read but still not sure on this: did you pull apart the snorkle, throttle body from the intake plenum, then remove the IAC and EGR valve and modulator from the throttle body and clean all those parts thoroughly with seafoam and a toothbrush?

and if so:
did you clean the egr valve downtube that goes to the exhaust manifold?
did you check resistance on the egr valve and also verify with a 9volt battery that it clicks and closes off to airflow?
did you verify the egr valve opens and closes with a vacuum?

you mention the ecu. these are starting to fail with more frequency lately, due to the fact that nothing, including 22 year old electronics, lasts forever. i had to replace mine after i'd done everything else to eliminate the usual suspects. the engine would die at idle or at speed, hot or cold, after 5 minutes or after 100 miles, didn't matter or give warning. it would start right back up usually though. it also shifted rough and gas mileage suffered a bit. now, all's good. hopefully that's not your problem but a good one guaranteed to not be DOA from ebay sellers is about 75 bucks now. just get the correct 10 digit model number that you have as they are year/model/option/trans/engine specific if you decide to give that a try as a last resort.
tony
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks, McGowaw. Doing all this auto mechanic research, and especially doing the repairs myself, has been a big adventure. I really, really want to triumph over it and not just give up, you know?

I took the EGR valve and the throttle body off the car completely and cleaned them with so much seafoam. . .and a toothbrush. . . In fact, I've had the throttle body off 3 times now (the third time when I replaced the IAC valve with a brand new one)

Re: the EGR valve. . I did NOT test it with a battery to see if it actually functions. I admit I figured that it was so dirty, that must have been the problem. I also didn't clean the "down tube." I'm trying to remember if that is a hose, or a pipe. I did find a bunch of baby cup cleaning brushes that could do the trick if it's something I can't remove. Looks like there are good instructions on how to do that testing.

and $75 for a new computer doesn't seem that steep. Was it very tricky to replace?

Thanks again for your helpful comments.
 

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the egr downtube is a metal pipe. it can be clogged or the egr valve can be clogged.
the vsv is just that. it's an electrical valve that opens and closes with 12volts but a transistor radio battery (what is that you ask?) will work just fine to see if it clicks open and allows air to pass. this valve is a weak link in the egr system and if you put non-combustible exhaust gas back into the intake at the wrong time, it will run rough and/or die. at the right time, (not wot, not idle, not cold), it cools the cylinders down to prevent excessive nox and wear though.
the ecm for mine anyways, is under the glove box on the firewall in a bracket that you have to access after removing the glove box and liner. watch some vids, give yourself a couple of hours, get a 10mm wratchet and be careful of the 4 or 5 sets of contacts. they can't be mixed up but just be careful removing and putting them back on. spray em with crc contact cleaner if you got some.
get the exact number if you don't want hassles. there are subs but the actual number should be available.
tony
 

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I did NOT test it with a battery to see if it actually functions. I admit I figured that it was so dirty, that must have been the problem. I also didn't clean the "down tube." I'm trying to remember if that is a hose, or a pipe.
If the EGR tube is plugged then that will be the same as a closed EGR. The engine will run fine if the EGR is non-functional - closed. It will only stall at idle if stuck open. Usually the EGR operates with engine vacuum, so testing it's operation is with a vacuum pump. At idle when EGR has vacuum applied the engine will stall if it opens - which means the vacuum dash pot is working. The EGR will not stall an engine at speed, that's because it's designed to open at higher RPMs.

and $75 for a new computer doesn't seem that steep.
I wouldn't look to the ECU yet. Do the spark/starter fluid tests first.
 

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Hey, insightbrewery, the distributor in my car has a separate igntion coil. Is that the coil you were talking about being cracked?

I just replaced that last night, if that's the one you mean. I think I must have gotten this distributor: http://www.autozone.com/external-engine/distributor/cardone-reman-distributor/257836_276632_0_1382

Laura
That's a CA-spec distributor. Yup, external ignition coil, but I was referring to the internal pickup coils that generate the RPM/position signals

Also,
 

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Hi all,

I wanted to say thanks for all your advice back in April. We figured out that the car was not getting spark, and I ordered and installed another new distributor, which fixed this problem. Unfortunately, once I got it starting and running well, the steering became unsafely rough. I'm now the proud owner of a 2012 Hyundai Elantra, which is an okay little car, but I do miss my Camry.

Thanks again for being awesome you Camry people.

Laura
 
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