Variety Pack

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

To all of my avid readers:
The problems that we will see this week are actually 3 easy ones with one that someone actually did a LOT of homework on (so much, that I wonder why he is asking me?). The first is to Kassy with the noisy Taurus. Kassy, it sounds like your speedometer cable needs to be greased. This may sound easy, but with out the proper tool, it's actually impossible. You need to either disconnect the speedo cable from the speedo or the transmission, and attach a grease coupling and just give it a squirt. Any transmission shop should be able to do this. The next is directed to our neighbors to the north (the Great White North). Angela, that dreaded metric system (the whole world uses it but us Americans). 3000 miles equals 4827 kilometers. Just take miles and multiply by 1.609 to get kilometers.

Dear Floyd,
Check out From there, you can find links to dealers and stuff. The best part about this site is that it actually gives you dealer costs for options. It doesn't give the actual invoice, but instead what it should cost. This way, you have some ammuntion when you go in there for battle. It also gives you a lot of information about every car sold, so if you don't know what you are looking for, then this will help you out.

And here is my final response. I included his original letter so you can see what I mean.

Thanks for all your advice. We've been with the dollar stretcher for a few months now, and I read them all. My problem is with my 1983 Toyota Camry with a mere 191,500 miles. It has an intermittent failure to start. The car turns over fine, but won't catch. The problem is very inconsistent. It might not happen for a few weeks, then several times in a week. Sometimes all I (or my wife ) needs to do is remove or loosen the distributor cap and put it back on (with or without removing any of the plug wires) and Vroom, it starts right up. Sometimes taking the cap off (exorcising the distributor demons) is ineffective, and we take another car that day. It always starts later on or the next day when I get back to it. My diagnosis has been no spark, which I have found by checking the wires with a spark tester (yes an accurate/reliable one). In my search for the errant part, I have replaced the coil (new), the igniter/ignition module (junkyard), the pickup coil (new), the cap and rotor (new), the wiring harness to the ignition module (junkyard). Today, I have just replaced the gasket to the cap at the suggestion of a Toyota service manager. I have found that there is no spark coming out of the coil when it is not firing (by putting the spark testing tool directly on the coil hi tension tap with a clip). I have checked to verify that there is power to the coil, and it has always had 12 VDC when I check.

My last resort is to buy a $200 rebuilt distributor from one of the local discount auto parts places, but I am reluctant to do that without a sure diagnosis. I am speculating that the distributor bearings are worn and the clearance between the vanes and the pickup coil is varying while the distributor shaft is at low RPMs during starting. I believe it requires .004 inch when setting up the pickup coil, it is in the book. My distributor is original.

I haven't been able to locate another '83-86 model for a reasonable price to replace it, and wonder if it is really ready to die. Any Ideas? Your input would be most appreciated.
Rob W.

Dear Rob,
My first inclination would be a bad ignition module and then a bad pick up sensor. Does that car have a cam or a crank sensor as well? Then I thought maybe the ignition switch is faulty and does not give good contact. You seemed to check everything else and even went so far as to measure clearance on the distributor lobes. It could be a bad ground or a bad wire in a harness somewhere. You know that they sell emergency ignition kits. This kit is supposed to help you start a car in situations like this. It has a few wires that you can attach with clips. It bypasses most ignitions modules and switches. I think that JC Whitney had it.
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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