Electrical Problems and Head Gaskets

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

I am a owner of a 1979 4WD Toyota Pickup with a '81 motor in it. I have been having electrical problems. The engine turns over, but it will not start. I replaced the igniter box and the ignition coil, but it still won't start. I do have power to the igniter box and ignition coil, so I am wondering if my pick-up coil is bad. I would like to know how to check it to see if it is working before I replace it though. How do you do this? I also would like to know a little about how it works, too. I know that it works by magnetic field between it and the rotor, but does it send a electrical pulse to the igniter box or a magnetic? How does the igniter recognize this and then how does it react on the ignition coil? When the pick-up coil does not work, will there be no power coming from the ignition coil? Any information would be greatly appreciated!
Lance B

The easiest way is to take a spark plug, and plug it into a spark plug wire. Rest the bottom electrode onto good ground (the engine block). Then have someone else crank the engine (be sure to not have anything that might get caught in the moving parts!) You are going to look for spark. If you see it, then its a fueling problem. If not, then either a bad plug, bad wire, bad rotor, bad cap, bad coil, bad ignition, or a bad control module or pickup module. Most of the larger auto part chains will test these for you. You generally need specialized equipment to make these test.

Hi Bob,
I have an 84 Toyota Corolla with only 125K miles on it. Unfortunately I blew the head gasket on it. (There is antifreeze in the oil, and I had it checked by a mechanic.) I bought a used replacement car, and the old one is sitting in my parking spot. I don't know whether I should try to fix it and then sell the car in running condition, or sell it as is. I have been told if it has an aluminum block there is no point in trying to fix it. I guess my questions are: A: Is it worth trying to fix so I can sell it for more money? and B: Is it morally correct to fix it and then sell it, hoping the engine lasts? I just don't know what to do. It was always an excellent car and never broke down on me in 5 years of ownership. I really appreciate any advice you have.
Jennifer D

Basically it depends on how much it will cost you to fix the motor. Then you need to see what your budget looks like. If it is a good car for you and you can afford to fix it, then do it. Otherwise, you can sell the car as is and see what you can get for it.
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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