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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The car is a '96 Camry LE (5S-FE).

Earlier today I was coasting down a mountain, going about 50 mph, when the tachometer started rapidly dropping up and down. It continued to coast for a minute or so until the engine light came on and car died completely. I pulled off of the road and let the car cool down for about 15 minutes. It started up and ran fine for a few minutes, but the tach soon started jerking up and down. It ran steadily as long as I kept my foot on the accelerator, so I continued driving this way into the next town to look for an OBDII scanner . . . but I didn't find one. So I made a (stupid) attempt to continue to the next town, but only made it a few miles before the engine speed became really erratic and the car died again . . .

Now it doesn't start at all. The starter will crank the flywheel all day, but the engine won't run. I had it towed and was able to find a code reader - it's showing a problem with the crankshaft position sensor. I'm going to throw in a new sensor tomorrow . . . Does this sound like the source of all of my problems? I would really appreciate any suggestions!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well I've replaced the crankshaft sensor. Now the engine runs fine, but only until it reaches operating temperature. Then it just cuts off, and won't start again until it cools down.

Anybody have a clue about what could be causing this?
 

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96 3MZ M/T
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short in the wiring when it gets hot the wire expands and looses contact.
 

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Engine running problems, hard to start, and with the erratic tachometer, 9 times out of 10, your igniter is failing.

See if you can get your hands on a used (salvage) igniter to try to see if the problem goes away, before spending lots of $'s on a new one just to see if you guessed right. But, based on the symptoms you wrote, that is the first place I would look.
 

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Well I've replaced the crankshaft sensor. Now the engine runs fine, but only until it reaches operating temperature. Then it just cuts off, and won't start again until it cools down.

Anybody have a clue about what could be causing this?
ECT sensor in 4cyl camry 5s-fe will cause starting problem, and idling problem, especially if it is thermo related condition like you described.
 

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Yes, this is true about the ECT sensor. But the symptom description also included an erratic tachometer when the engine problems were present. The ECT sensor will not cause a tachometer to become erratic. The igniter will, as the igniter feeds the tachometer with engine speed data. And, the igniter can also cause the exact same engine running symptoms described, and be temperature affected (it is a larger, transistorized relay).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes, this is true about the ECT sensor. But the symptom description also included an erratic tachometer when the engine problems were present. The ECT sensor will not cause a tachometer to become erratic. The igniter will, as the igniter feeds the tachometer with engine speed data. And, the igniter can also cause the exact same engine running symptoms described, and be temperature affected (it is a larger, transistorized relay).
Is the igniter located in the distributor?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
OK, It looks like the igniter is mounted on the distributor (according to NAPA). I'm going to try installing a different (used) igniter and see if that remedies the issue. The distributor inner seal is leaking oil, so it seems possible that oil is causing problems with the igniter.

By the way, does anyone know if a failing igniter would give a trouble code? The engine light is on, but I haven't had a chance to scan it yet.
 

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Is the igniter mounting "in" the distributor, or "on" (just outside) the distributor? Seems to me it must be outside the body of the distributor, right?

My 93 Celica 5S-FE has OBD-I, and for that simple system, an igniter triggers a check engine light, so I am sure an igniter would do the same on an OBD-II system (which I think your 96 has, but not certain). Do you have OBD-II (a scanner connection somewhere under the steering column)? Or do you have OBD-I, meaning you have a DCL (diagnostic link connector) that is Toyota specific under the hood?

If OBD-II, that would be a very important piece of information to have, so you don't throw money at symptoms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Is the igniter mounting "in" the distributor, or "on" (just outside) the distributor? Seems to me it must be outside the body of the distributor, right?

My 93 Celica 5S-FE has OBD-I, and for that simple system, an igniter triggers a check engine light, so I am sure an igniter would do the same on an OBD-II system (which I think your 96 has, but not certain). Do you have OBD-II (a scanner connection somewhere under the steering column)? Or do you have OBD-I, meaning you have a DCL (diagnostic link connector) that is Toyota specific under the hood?

If OBD-II, that would be a very important piece of information to have, so you don't throw money at symptoms.
The distributor/igniter assembly looks like this:http://info.rockauto.com/getimage/g...rl=http://info.rockauto.com/HiTest/84189E.jpg
So the igniter is mounted inside of the distributor.

It is OBD-II ('96), so the connector is under the steering column. I checked it shortly after the problem began, and the only code it gave was for the crank position sensor. I'm going to rent a scanner and see what the new code is.
 

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The picture you provided from Rockauto is not an igniter. It is the distributor housing assembly. It includes the distributor shaft and the engine speed sensor coil with pick-up gear within the distributor body. This pickup coil may also provide position sensing information also (my 1993 distributor has two separate pickup coils, one for speed and one for position).

The igniter relies on a timing pulse from the ECU to open it's high current relay. The ECU depends upon engine speed, cam timing, engine coolant temperature, oxygen sensors, etc., to determine the optimum timing pulse to send to the igniter. Rockauto doesn't call this module an igniter, but rather an Ignition Control Module. If you look at the Ignition Control Module in Rockauto, this is what I referred to as the igniter, as that is the Toyota name for this part. If you look this part up, you will see it matches the picture of the igniter I posted previously (which has the Toyota label on it calling it an igniter).
 

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agni, That is the distributor itself. The igniter looks like the picture posted by 93celicaconv although some parts places call it an Ignition Control module, I think only dealers call it an igniter. I can't find any good pictures but it should be located some where near the drivers side strut tower.
 

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V8'sRGone
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While you're attempting to diagnose this, I'd be tempted to grab a couple cans of FREEZE SPRAY for cooling suspect components!

FWIW, just because the new part is new, well I hate to say this, but new is not always 100% if you know what I mean. The fact that it changed things means something. The likelyhood of several parts failing at once seems less likely. Any damaged to any of the wires anywhere?

Do you have a hand held multimeter of some kind. The manual shows you can check the resistance of the three pickup coils.

EG1.PDF page 336
Pg 338 shows how. . .

The distributor in the Engine Control System contains 3 pick–up coils (G1, G2 and NE).
The G1, G2 signals inform the ECM of the standard crankshaft angle.
The NE signals inform the ECM of the crankshaft angle and the engine speed.

G Pickup Coil (G1 –G (–)) Cold = 185 ~ 275 hot = 240 ~ 325 ohms
NE Pickup Coil (NE (+) – NE (–)) = 370 ~ 550, hot = 475 ~ 650 ohms
 

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The service manual calls it an igniter. The ECU sends IGT signal (in short) to ignites the spark plugs. At the ignition coil, a wire is tapped into the igniter ..so the igniter can send out IGF signal. The tach relies on IGF signal. So it can be that you have a bad wire or bad igniter. My guess is igniter as the signal is a periodic pulse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You guys are right, the igniter is mounted on the drivers side strut tower next to the ignition coil. I swapped out the igniter, along with the distributor/pickup coil assembly, cap, rotor, and plug wires. It started up and drove fine, but stalled again after driving 10 miles (almost exactly the same distance as before, and along the same route). I immediately checked fuel flow (unbolted the fuel filter bolt and cranked the engine) and it was fine. I then checked for spark from the coil, and there was none. I checked that 12V was getting to the coil, and it was. I checked the resistance in the primary (0.7-0.95 ohm) and secondary (10.8-14.9 ohm) coils, and they were within tolerance. At this point I was pretty baffled, so I checked spark again for the hell of it, and I got some spark, but it seemed weak and intermittent, not steady like I would expect. This was about 10 hours ago, and the car still will not start. I'm really not sure what to do at this point, short of replacing the ECM . . . (by the way, i scanned for stored DTCs, and the only that showed up was for the IAT sensor, most likely from when I forgot to plug it back in before starting the car)

I also noticed that the tachometer registers absolutely nothing while I'm cranking the engine.

. . . :confused:
 

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When you say you swapped out the igniter, what igniter did you have to swap with? A new one, or a salvage one?

I'm just wondering if the igniter you swapped in, especially if salvage, was having the same problem.

I really doubt you have an ECU problem. If you are absolutely sure your igniter is fine, and your coil, I would almost put a wiring problem ahead of the ECU. But the engine temperature seems to be triggering the problem, so I really don't know now.
 

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i still believe it is not ignitor related, but a bad ECT sensor can do the job like you described,
very easy simple to swap as well.
did you also inspect your coil for crack?
 

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I'd start checking for wiring breaks along the distributor pickup coil generator connector -> ECU. If the ECU loses the crank position sensor, the engine stalls immediately. Sounds like an intermittent wiring connection issue coupled with heat. You could do the same with the coil/igniter wiring.

You can also check for voltage at the ECU for the corresponding pickup coil signals.
 

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i still believe it is not ignitor related, but a bad ECT sensor can do the job like you described,
very easy simple to swap as well.
did you also inspect your coil for crack?
Only thing is the ECT sensor wouldn't cause the tachometer to go haywire, as described in the symptoms of the problem initially.

However, an ECT sensor is something that can be diagnosed easily. Taking the resistance reading across its 2 teminals, and seeing if that matches up with a temperature that is realistic for the ECT sensor at the time, would provide evidence if the ECT sensor is providing a good resistance value back to the ECU or not. If not, it should be replaced, regardless if it is the cause of these problems or not - because it will be the cause of problems in the future for sure.
 
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