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Virtual Wrench
Virtual Wrench, Toyota Mechanic
Category: Toyota
Satisfied Customers: 14620
Experience:  35 years Master Mechanic
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I have a 1993 Toyota tercel. It will not start. It was

Customer Question

I have a 1993 Toyota tercel. It will not start. It was acting hesitant for a week, then just died. Will not start it doesn't even sound like it wants to. I checked the fuel flow (still could be low but it is flowing), injector pulse, spark to the plugs, rotor turning (timing belt). Not sure what else to check...
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Toyota
Expert:  Virtual Wrench replied 1 year ago.


Just to be sure its not a fuel issue, have you tried using some starting fluid to see if it reacts to that?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
it had no reaction to the starter fluid been sprayed into the throttle body
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I tested the coil in the distributor. The primary had 1.3 at 200ohms, and the secondary had
11.5 at 20k ohms.
Expert:  Virtual Wrench replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the info,

If there is spark at the plugs,(for sure) and the plugs are not fouled, then a compression test would be the next step. The timing belt could have slipped a few teeth without breaking and it will show up on a compression test.

Basically, it only needs spark, fuel and timing to start and it seems that from what you said, it has spark and fuel so it really only leaves the timing belt, or in extreme case, a plugged cat converter. I'm leaning more towards the timing belt slipped.

Expert:  Virtual Wrench replied 1 year ago.


Any further questions?

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am about to change the distributor. I haven't checked the timing belt yet. I am getting blue spark. I was told that the distributor goes out on this car. I will check the timing belt more. Going looking at the engine, going from left to right, spark plugs are 1,2,3,4, do the numbers on the distributor cap (1,2,4,3 clockwise) correspond to the spark plug position. I swear I was careful, but I noticed the 2,3, wires were switch.
Expert:  Virtual Wrench replied 1 year ago.


The firing order is 1-3-4-2

That may be the whole problem right there.

See the link below.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How does that relate to the position on the distributor cap?
Expert:  Virtual Wrench replied 1 year ago.

Does the cap look like the one below? It should....

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Virtual Wrench replied 1 year ago.

Good. Just put the plug wires in the numbered posts on the cap.

As you can see they go counter clockwise 1-3-4-2

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The plugs are correct. The next step is checking the timing belt, or replace the distributor, but it looked easier to replace the distributor than to take the cover off and see if the timing belt is loose. Is there an easy test for the cat. Converter.
Expert:  Virtual Wrench replied 1 year ago.


If it is getting a strong blue spark at the spark plugs then the distributor is good and i sure wouldnt replace it.

Go to a parts store like autozone, advance, orilleys and they will loan you a compression tester for free with a deposit.

You need to remove all spark plugs and test each cylinder for compression. They should all be close to the same if the timing belt didnt slip. If the compression is different in all cylinders then you will have to replace the t-belt.

If you dont know how to do a compression test click here.

Thats how you test the timing belt so you dont have to take the cover off yet.

DONT replace the dist if it has good spark at the plugs.

let me know what you find on the compression readings.

Expert:  Virtual Wrench replied 1 year ago.

Any results on the compression test yet?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the compression is 160,140,150,130. I thought maybe a blown head gasket, but the compression test and no water in the oil or oil streaks in the radiator water I think rule that out. when I did the compression test there seem to be gas spraying out of the cylinders and I checked the spark plugs again when I had them all out, its not a big blue spark, but white/gold/blue spark. they seemed in rhythm. There was sporadic air pressure coming out of the exhaust pipe, but I don't know what a good amount is, in case it is the cat. converter.
It seems like if it wasn't getting enough air flow, or if a computer malfunction (if that is possible on a 1993 Toyota tercel).
When it had been sluggish, (sometimes not getting over 35 when trying to speed), I did put some good fuel injector cleaner in the gas. two days later it just died while driving.
I changed the spark plugs, rotor, cap, and wires.
Expert:  Virtual Wrench replied 1 year ago.


Usually you dont want to have more that a 25% difference in compression between the cylinders but it has enough thaqt it should at least start.

If it has an O2 sensor mounted upstream of the converter you can remove it and it will let out any exhaust that would be restricting the cat if it were plugged. So if it has one just unscrew it and leave it out and see if it starts.

Let me know

Expert:  Virtual Wrench replied 1 year ago.

Make sure the spark plugs are clean, new preferably, and NO black carbon on the tips at all or the carbon will reduce the spark.

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