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Toyota Repair/Engine light on / flashing ?


QUESTION: Hello Ted,

I have a '97 Camry and a few months ago my check engine light came on and my engine developed a 'miss', or hesitation when first starting out. I took it to an auto parts store and they put the tester on it and I was told it was a problem with my #2 cylinder, and they said it could either be a faulty plug or plug wire.  I procrastinated about putting it in the shop since I only drive less than 30 miles per week. And I should mention that I just had the plugs and wires replaced approximately 20,000 miles earlier.  So I had doubts that either of those could be the issue.  

So just last week I was driving and had the AC on, and all of a sudden my check engine light starts flashing, and when I turned off the AC it stopped flashing.  Also, the light on my AC button that would illuminate when turned on, suddenly stopped working.  I should also mention that my warning light for windshield washer fluid came on, although my fluid level was near full.

So my question is, could all of this be a problem with the engine control module instead of a plug, plug wire, AC, or anything related?  It does smoke when I first start it in the morning, and I've been told this is a valve seal, and this has been going on for a long time.  Could this valve seal problem cause more severe issues if left alone?

I appreciate any advice you can offer, as I can't afford to put it in the shop right now.  I would prefer to try to handle it myself.  Thanks.

ANSWER: Hello, valve seals are very common on the Toyota engines of this age, this can cause spark plug fouling if severe enough, the oomputer is the least likely cause for the misfire, the light is flashing because of the misfire, the catalytic converter is overheating, I would suspect that it may have a fuel injector issue since the wires and plugs are fairly new.
Is it a V6 or 4 cylinder engine?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: It is a 4 cylinder with 120,000 miles.  I have had the injectors cleaned before but it has been awhile.  Would you suggest cleaning the injectors, then replacing the valve seals?  The valve seal job is a little beyond my mechanical experience so I'll have to pay someone to do that.  I was just wanting to figure out exactly what I need to address first, since there were so many things going on at once.  For instance,   if my computer module is okay why would my AC indicator light not work while my engine light is flashing? But it stopped flashing when I turned off the AC?  In your opinion, do you think my catalytic converter needs replaced?  Thanks for your help!

Thanks, it's obvious that the valve seals need to be replaced but that may not be the cause of the misfire, what I would like for you to do is to get me the specific diagnostic codes from the computer, most autoparts stores, Autozone, Pep Boys and so on do this at no charge, I need the code numbers only, then I'll be happy to help with a more specific answer.

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Ted Ritter


I have more than 28 years experience as toyota technician, I will be able to answer most questions related to the Toyota product line up to the present year models,I am located in the US but welcome questions from other regions of the world. When asking a question please provide specific information: year,model, engine,transmission information. Provide as much information as possible including a brief repair history if possible. I have been a volunteer here for more ten years an have answered over 16,000 questions helping Toyota owners with their problems and save thousands of dollars without any compensation, some of my answers are published on many other websites including google and various automotive forums. DONATIONS ARE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED, IF YOU HAVE RECIEVED HELPFUL INFORMATION PLEASE MAKE A DONATION. AS OF TODAY (JULY 22, 2014) ALL REQUESTED GRAPHICS, ILLUSTRATIONS, DIAGRAMS, PHOTOS, WILL REQUIRE THE MINUMUM DONATION UP FRONT.


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Toyota master technician, ASE certified in eight catagories, Hybrid vehicle certified. Toyota technical training: Engine Automatic transmission Manual transmission Drivetrain Electrical systems Brakes and chassis Air conditioning Engine performance and diagnostics Hybrid systems

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