RPMs plummet to zero, and car won't reliably start.

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Old 05 Aug 2005, 03:29 pm   #1 (permalink)
Geoff
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Default RPMs plummet to zero, and car won't reliably start.

Hi. I've got a '93 Camry V6 with an automatic transmission, and I
recently replaced the distributor cap, rotor, and spark plug wires as
part of a larger project. Initially, the car wouldn't crank, so I had
it towed to a mechanic, who fixed the problem by resetting my stupid
anti-theft system. Feeling a little like a chump, I drove my car to
work, which was a half-hour drive at both highway speeds and in
stop-and-go traffic. Along the way, the RPMs would occaisionally
plummet to zero, and then promptly return to an appropriate level--it
seemed like it happened when the car would shift gears.

Later today, I began to drive my car home, but before I left the
parking garage, the RPMs dropped and didn't return. I was going
around a corner, so I couldn't press the gas to try to "resurrect" the
engine, and it stalled. When I tried to restart it, it would rev,
(crank?) but it wouldn't start at all. That is, it'd make a revving
sound, but when I released the key, I'd merely hear something that
sounded like some spinning device slowing down and stopping. I'm
*guessing* that this is the distributor rotor, but I have no way of
knowing.

Strangely, the car DID start again about ten or fifteen minutes later.
I let it idle, which it did steadily at about 700 RPM, and I called
the auto shop where it had been that morning. They said that it
hadn't done anything unusual like that when they took it out for a
test drive, so if they're being honest, then this problem began as I
was driving it work, and it's rapidly been getting worse. Anyway,
when I slammed the hood shut, the engine immediately stalled, and it
wouldn't restart.

I checked the spark plug wires, which are properly connected to the
distributor cap. All other hoses and electrical connections are, as
far as I can see, properly connected. I didn't smell any gasoline
when I opened the hood.

Also, in regards to the distributor rotor: when I removed the old one,
I partially stripped one of the two screws that held it in place. I
replaced those screws with identical new ones, but I had to use
slightly larger washers on both of those screws. (I couldn't fit
washers of the original sizes onto the new screws, for some reason.)
Both screws have one normal washer and one lock washer between the
head of the screw and the plate underneath the rotor. I tightened the
screws as much as possible without stripping them. When attached, the
new rotor wouldn't spin at all when I gently tried turning it by
hand--I'm not sure whether or not it's meant to.

Does anybody have any idea what's going on? Thanks a million.

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Old 05 Aug 2005, 05:01 pm   #2 (permalink)
Daniel
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Default Re: RPMs plummet to zero, and car won't reliably start.

check the electrical connector at the base of the distributor.
remove, clean, re attach
if it is making (or losing) contact intermittently - that would account
for your symptoms.

also be sure you used genuine Toyota parts

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Old 05 Aug 2005, 05:42 pm   #3 (permalink)
Jason James
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Default Re: RPMs plummet to zero, and car won't reliably start.


"Geoff" <gstanbury@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1123273776.687104.260480@z14g2000cwz.googlegr oups.com...
> Hi. I've got a '93 Camry V6 with an automatic transmission, and I
> recently replaced the distributor cap, rotor, and spark plug wires as
> part of a larger project. Initially, the car wouldn't crank, so I had
> it towed to a mechanic, who fixed the problem by resetting my stupid
> anti-theft system. Feeling a little like a chump, I drove my car to
> work, which was a half-hour drive at both highway speeds and in
> stop-and-go traffic. Along the way, the RPMs would occaisionally
> plummet to zero, and then promptly return to an appropriate level--it
> seemed like it happened when the car would shift gears.
>
> Later today, I began to drive my car home, but before I left the
> parking garage, the RPMs dropped and didn't return. I was going
> around a corner, so I couldn't press the gas to try to "resurrect" the
> engine, and it stalled. When I tried to restart it, it would rev,
> (crank?) but it wouldn't start at all. That is, it'd make a revving
> sound, but when I released the key, I'd merely hear something that
> sounded like some spinning device slowing down and stopping. I'm
> *guessing* that this is the distributor rotor, but I have no way of
> knowing.
>
> Strangely, the car DID start again about ten or fifteen minutes later.
> I let it idle, which it did steadily at about 700 RPM, and I called
> the auto shop where it had been that morning. They said that it
> hadn't done anything unusual like that when they took it out for a
> test drive, so if they're being honest, then this problem began as I
> was driving it work, and it's rapidly been getting worse. Anyway,
> when I slammed the hood shut, the engine immediately stalled, and it
> wouldn't restart.
>
> I checked the spark plug wires, which are properly connected to the
> distributor cap. All other hoses and electrical connections are, as
> far as I can see, properly connected. I didn't smell any gasoline
> when I opened the hood.
>
> Also, in regards to the distributor rotor: when I removed the old one,
> I partially stripped one of the two screws that held it in place. I
> replaced those screws with identical new ones, but I had to use
> slightly larger washers on both of those screws. (I couldn't fit
> washers of the original sizes onto the new screws, for some reason.)
> Both screws have one normal washer and one lock washer between the
> head of the screw and the plate underneath the rotor. I tightened the
> screws as much as possible without stripping them. When attached, the
> new rotor wouldn't spin at all when I gently tried turning it by
> hand--I'm not sure whether or not it's meant to.
>
> Does anybody have any idea what's going on? Thanks a million.


Modern cars dont use mechanicl advance,...so the rotor will feel as tho its
'locked',..that's normal.
I agree with Dan,...the fact it stopped when you closed the hood means
somewhere in the ignition-system is an intermittant connection which moved
when the vibration of the closing hood exerted on it.

To find it will take patient fault-finding. As Daniel said check all
connectors are secure. If that doesnt fix it, try gently moving each wiring
connector back and forth. If the engine dies, you've found the area where
the fault is...you'll need to use a multi-meter on resistance range to check
all the wiring in this area.
Basically, you place one probe at one end of a conductor and the other at
the other end,.flex the wire and look for changes in the meter-reading.

Jason


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Old 06 Aug 2005, 06:31 am   #4 (permalink)
hachiroku
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Default Re: RPMs plummet to zero, and car won't reliably start.

On Fri, 05 Aug 2005 15:01:11 -0700, Daniel wrote:

> check the electrical connector at the base of the distributor. remove,
> clean, re attach
> if it is making (or losing) contact intermittently - that would account
> for your symptoms.
>
> also be sure you used genuine Toyota parts


Yeah, there's some kind of loose connection or ground here somewhere.

On an older Tercel I had, the thing that had started faithfully every time
I turned the key all of a sudden wouldn't. I found a wire that LOOKED like
it was going into a harness really wasn't and needed to be connected to
the + side of the battery. Hope it's something simple...just look around
and prod methodically...


BTW what was the Larger Project?

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