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93 Pickup 3VZE died, wouldn't start, ran again

Old 04-23-2019, 09:06 AM
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93 Pickup 3VZE died, wouldn't start, ran again

I had trouble giving a title to this post because this was a strange one. Did some searching here for ideas, but want some opinions.

On way home yesterday I was driving highway speed and all was well until I pushed the clutch in to coast to a traffic light. I thought I felt a "sputter" when I disengaged the clutch, so I looked at the tach and it was dead. All other power (radio, lights, etc.) never missed a beat. I coasted to side of the road and tried to restart the engine. Turned over just fine but never fired a single time. I investigated under the hood looking and smelling for anything out of ordinary, but nothing. So I pulled the cable between igniter and distributor cap to inspect and didn't see anything there (the plug wires and dist cap are only about a year old and genuine Toyota). Then I pulled the EFI fuse (15A) and inspected and it looked good. Hopped back in the truck and it fired right up, so I drove it home with no issues whatsoever...ran great.
This morning it started up just fine, but I remembered I left something inside so I parked it for a few minutes. Came back out to go to work and it wouldn't start. This time, wanting to see if it could be fuel delivery, I sprayed some brake cleaner (sorry, all I had on hand) in the throttle body and it still wouldn't fire. So pretty sure this is ignition related at this point. Went through the same items I did yesterday and it eventually started again, but still ran rough at idle. I could rev it to >2k rpm and it would run just fine and very peppy, but didn't want to idle. So I figure that confirms fuel pump is in good shape, right? Next, I checked the "engine" 10A fuse and the "ignition" 7.5A fuse inside the cab and they checked out fine. Started the engine and it ran great, idling for 15 minutes or so in the driveway. Shut it off and a few minutes later started it up, only to have it struggle to idle again. After revving it up a few times I was able to get it to settle on idle for a few minutes before shutting it down to go scratch my head some more.
I forgot that pulling the EFI fuse would reset any codes I had, but it did run rough for a while after the last time I pulled it, and when I finally checked codes there were none. Maybe some will show up with more time, but I'm not so sure. I never had a check engine light come on when it died the first time.
Any ideas?
Whatever it is, it came on VERY suddenly. Not a single symptom until it first died yesterday afternoon.
And the strangest part it that I was able to get it running just fine for a period of time following the failure yesterday on the way home from work (multiple stops with good idle) and this morning in the driveway. It is just an intermittent issue. I hate those.
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Old 04-23-2019, 09:43 AM
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My guess is you have a loose connection somewhere in the ignition side.

But first, you need to know. Invest $30 in a timing light. Carry it in the truck. Next time it dies, put the inductive pickup on any plug wire, and have someone crank it. If the light flashes, you have spark. (When you get the timing light, you'll want to try it out, so start by checking ignition timing.)
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Old 04-23-2019, 12:23 PM
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Good advice. I looked for my "spark tester" this morning but didn't find it. It looks like a screwdriver but picks up just enough field to light a bulb inside the handle. Haven't used it in a while, but that or an inductive light would be helpful in seeing where I have or don't have current.
Keep hearing that the VAFM is a possibility as well, but will start working my way back from plugs.
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Old 04-23-2019, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by studawg66 View Post
... Keep hearing that the VAFM is a possibility as well, ...
Have you heard why it might be a possibility? (You don't want to be that guy who just keeps replacing one part after the other because of something he saw on the internet ...)

The VAF has a switch that closes when air is flowing, which keeps the fuel pump running after you let go of the key. Failure of that switch (or other parts of the VAF-COR circuit) will usually cause "starts and runs for a few seconds, then dies." Not your described symptoms at all.
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:26 AM
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Well...I have driven this truck to work the past two days with zero issue. Just waiting for the failure again so I can diagnose again. Hoping it is not some intermittent short that will take forever to trace, but until it does it again I don't even know where to look at this point. It is running great.
Any ideas whether or not my removing and replacing the 10A "engine" and 7.5 "ignition" fuses under the drivers side dash would have done anything to reset something? That was the last thing I did and haven't see the problem since. Grasping at straws.
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