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Toyota Repair/96 Camry won't start


QUESTION: I have a 96 Camry 2.2L auto 250,000 miles. I live in Michigan. For over a year whenever it has rained or high humidity when starting cold it is very rough running. After it warms up it runs fine. My first thought is cracked distributor cap but never checked it out because what getting the cap off involved. I just tolerated the nuisance. The other day (not humid or wet out, it's below freezing here) it just cranked but will not fire. I tried a shot of starting fluid in the air filter compartment but no fire. I got to the dist cap & rotor (both bad) & replaced them. Still will not fire. This is an older car with miles so don't want to pour lots of $$ into trying to fix this but any suggestions on what i could try or check without spending a bundle ? I did put a new battery, catalytic converter & flex pipe on last summer.

ANSWER: Hello, does the engine crank over normally but not fire up or does it seem like it has no compression? Do you have a 12 volt test light or multimeter available?  The coil is inside the distributor, remove the cap again and remove the rotor and the coil cover, the coils have a tendency to crack along the top or burn at the bottom causing a high voltage leak to ground.

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QUESTION: Hi, thanks for the quick reply. The engine cranks over normal but doesn't fire. I would say it has compression.
As you said i removed the cap & rotor. The rotor is a full round rotor held on with 2 small bolts connected to what i would describe as a rounded tooth gear. There is no coil cover or coil that i see, only a bracket held on with 2 small bolts. That bracket appears to just surround the distributor shaft. There is 1 bolt off to the left side outside the distributor that holds the housing on. Sounds like i have a different distributor setup ? There is 1 wire assembly that plugs into the side of the distributor on the right side. That wire goes into a harness then ???? One other thing i thought of that may enter into this thing possibly is about a month ago my cig lighter quit working. I bought a universal lighter (just the male part) that fits. Since then i've burned out 4 or 5 fuses that control the lighter, radio, clock etc.

ANSWER: This distributor has an external coil and igniter, before we go on and so I don't have to guess I would like to see if there are any diagnostic codes in the computer. You can do this by putting a short jumper wire in the diagnostic check connector under the hood between the terminals TE1 and E1 with the key on, although a 1996 is OBD2 you may be able to get a code without a diagnostic scanner hooked up, the check engine light will start to flash a two digit code, for example a code 25 would be two blinks followed by five, give this a try and see if there is a code there.

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diag check connector
diag check connector  
QUESTION: Hi, i found no diagnostic check connector under the hood but i did find it (i think) under the dash on the driver's side. (see attached photo) I could not get any blinking on the check engine light. To me i can't see a clip in the TE1 port ? I can see & feel (when i plug a jumper wire in) in the E1 port. In fact several ports appear to have no clip. I stood on my head to get a close look but can't see them except in a few others.

That port is to connect a diagnostic scanntool, there should be Diagnsotic connector under the hood as well, it's a small rectangular box mounted near the firewall on the passenger side. Since this is a 1996 it should be OBD2 compliant and there should be another connector that is different at the left lower dash or behind the fuse cover/coin box, this is for connecting an obd 2 diagnostic scanner.

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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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