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1992 Es300 Won't Start

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Hi All,

A while back I bought a '92 ES300 with 32k miles (yes, 32,000) from a little old lady who drove it to the store once a week. After a 1200 mile trip the car died on me, slowly, 2 miles from my house. It took about 3 miles to die, slowly losing power and then finally just shutting down. Since then it hasn't started. Here's what I know and have done:

  • The ECU is throwing a code for ignition coil / ignitor / distributor
  • I've replaced the ignition coil and ignitor to no avail
  • The engine is getting fuel (according to mechanic, and I can hear the fuel pump) and spark (according to me)
  • Everything else seems fine, the starter appears in good order, no broken or cracked hoses, fuses are all good*

*except the main relay is missing, which is totally weird because it didn't just disappear while I was driving the car. Must have been rewired somehow / at some point?

I ran out of things I could try and took it to a mechanic. He says he can't figure out what's wrong with it and he thinks it must be an ECU problem - since replacing the items the code references didn't help I guess. His suggestion is to have the dealer check it out (great).

Anyone have any ideas on what I could try or what it might be? I'm really stumped at this point.


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What was the code that you originally had? Once you replace the ignitor and coil, did you clear the code? You state that once you replaced the ignitor and coil the engine is getting spark "according to me", but the previous sentence states that it was to no avail?? I do not understand what you are saying here. Do you have spark, and exactly what steps did you use to come to this conclusion.

To start the engine, you need spark, compression and fuel. Which order you verify this is up to you. Check the compression, you should have app 200 psi. The exact value is not important, but the numbers should be less than 10% difference.

Next you need to verify fuel delivery. The easy way to do this is with a NOID light. I'm sure you probably don't have one of those, but you can easily build one yourself. Get a small 12 volt incandescent light bulb (the dash light bulbs work well), and solder a couple small wires to them (app 20 gauge). Take a 1" piece of 10 gauge solid wire, and hammer it flat. Cut it into two pieces, and then solder one piece to the other ends of the wires attached to the bulb. Insulate everything except for 1/4 inch of the flat 10 gauge wire. You now have a homemade noid light. Disconnect one of the connectors going to the fuel injectors and plug your noid light into the harness. Polarity of the wires is not important, (as long as you used a incadescent bulb). Crank the engine, The bulb should flash, (it should be obvious, there should be no doubt in your mind if the injectors are being pulsed).

The next thing would be to verfiy fuel pressure, You will need a fuel pressure gauge for this, along with the fittings to hook it up. These cars do not have a test port, so the next most common point to hook it up is to the cold start injector.

The last, and least likely thing it the timming belt, you will need to verify that it has not jumped a couple teeth.

Lastly, one question I have,, You say that you took it to a mechanic? What type mechanic? He was not working out of a real shop, was he? If the car is running poorly, it can sometimes be difficult to isolate the reason. But to get a engine to fire/start should be fairly easy for a well equiped, professional mechanic. Something is not right with the mechanic that you used.

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