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Thread: How to test igniter?

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    How to test igniter?

    I may be getting ahead of myself. I haven't done any testing, just some guessing. I have a 1987 4x4 LE van and it will usually start when it's cold, and then after about 20 min of driving it starts to misfire and will eventually die. I thought it was the fuel pump, 'cause I had run it out of gas a few weeks ago, but a friend said check the igniter. (The fuel pump is pretty new, like 1k miles on it.) I think you need an oscilloscope to do this?

    I have the factory repair manual and it has no info about performing this test. Also, This part is very expensive, like $400 from O'reileys. Is there any cheaper solution if this is the problem? Like Petronix with an older points distributor?

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    Problem is more likely to be the coil & these are cheap and everybody has them. As for testing the igniter, according to the Toyota Factory Service Manual, I quote "Try another igniter". I make it a habit to snatch these from salvage yards when the opportunity presents itself. $5 - $10 isn't too unusual (depends on the check-out person). Most people wait until they fail then find a used one on eBay. I just did a search, but there's none currently listed there. Tim

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    If you have a tachometer meaning an LE model knowing if the igniter is bad is an easy test. If the igniter is good the tachometer needle will slightly bounce while cranking the engine. If the tachometer needle does not move at all while cranking you have a bad igniter

    This test is only applicable to 80's era Toyotas

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    I checked the tach and it does hop while cranking it over. It starts and only runs for 10 seconds now.

    I checked the codes and I have 4 errors! it blinks 4 times, then 6, then 10 & 11.

    This is what the manual says...


    4 = temp sensor, and it read a little low at room temp which is 90 degrees today. It should be around 1.9 Ohms, and it was 1.6. Maybe it is running real lean when it warms up, so I went and got one today. (haven't put it in yet)

    6 = RPM signal. No Ne signal to ECU while cranking, or no Ne value over 1500 RPM in spite of no Ne signal to ECU. Trouble area Distributor circuit, Distributor, Igniter, Starter signal circuit, ECU


    10 = Starter signal - No STA signal to ECU when engine stopped and engine running over. Trouble area = Starter relay circuit, IG switch circuit (starter) IG switch, ECU

    11=Switch signal - air conditioner switch ON, idle switch OFF or shift position in any position than park or neutral during diagnosis check.

    Trouble areas AC switch, TPS sensor circuit, TPS, N start switch, ECU


    Any help would be appreciated. It's a manual transmission. The starter is new,

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    Having a stored code is reason for concern & usually means there is something wrong. Once stored, even if the original issue is rectified, codes will not go away unless the battery is disconnected or the EFI fuse is pulled for more than 15 seconds. Once a code is read & documented, it's a good idea to reset codes and then check them again later to verify they weren't left over from a previous episode.

    I'd also like to mention that codes should be checked every so often regardless if the engine light is on or off. Letting things go wrong & accumulate is never good. Combinations of faults can complicate diagnosis and repair. I usually check codes every time I change oil. This may be a bit excessive, but if there's a problem I want to know now. Running the van with bad sensors can waste gas and lead to other more expensive problems (like a plugged up cat converter).

    I'll attempt to help you based on my experience with the codes you are reading. Code #4 is pretty specific and almost always means a failed ECU temperature sensor. This sensor is very important to the correct running of the engine. Since the sensor is inexpensive and easy to replace I recommend replacing it ASAP any time a code 4 is read. Here is a picture that shows it's location:



    The sensor is Napa part #TS5520 for around $15. If you're rolling in the bucks, then it's Toyota part #89422-12010 for around $80.


    Code #6 is what happens when you get a failed coil or igniter. A bad pick-up coil in the distributor will also trigger this code. Since you get the "needle hop" I'm guessing it's a bad coil. Coil is Napa part #IC104 for around $40 or Toyota part #90919-02135 for around $100. An alternative would be to purchase a used distributor from eBay or a salvage yard & drop it in. Here's one currently listed on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/1986-TOYOTA-...3749a9&vxp=mtr

    Code #10 I suspect this one will go away when code 6 is rectified.

    Code #11 This is most likely a bad TPS. Beck Arnley #150-0503 for around $35 (if you click on the link, ignore that picture.......it's wrong, but you will get the correct part if you order). Toyota part number for this is 89452-14020 (they'll want around $95). If you replace this part, in order for it to do it's job it needs to be adjusted correctly. Since you'll need to pull the throttle body, it's a good time to clean this as well. Here's a thread that shows how to do this: http://www.toyotavantech.com/forum/s...-Throttle-Body

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    I cleared the codes after I changed the temp sensor, and was just left with the TPS error code.

    I'll clean it out and replace the sensor. Thanks!

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    I looked at the video, and I'm not sure if i understand what you are adjusting. maybe because you can't really see what you are doing. Are you moving the sensor, or adjusting the screw where the feeler gauge is?

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    The TPS has 2 mounting slots 180 deg apart. Mounting screws enter through these slotted holes. I am rotating the TPS on the throttle body (screws moving in the slots). When the correct spot is found, screws are tightened to lock in place.

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    I get it, you are moving the sensor until it is right on the brink of making continuity. Thanks again

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    Ok, I replaced the temp sensor and then also the TPS, and re-checked the codes and they had all cleared. Then, after I let it run for a while, it died and I got a #6 error code. I checked the coil resistance and there was none, so it is bad. What I was wondering is if I should just replace it for $40 and see what happens, or is it also that the igniter has or will go bad with the coil, and should be replaced? Is it also a cheaper option to remove the rotor and replace with petronix electronic ignition, if that can be done? Also, where is the igniter on 87' van? Thanks!

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    Also, a whole new distributor is $150 with the coil, but is the igniter part of it?

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    checked coil this is what i got.


    primary = 2.6 Ohms ....too high

    Secondary = 8.3 OK

    Pick up coil = zero


    Book says I need a new distributor if the pick up coil is bad, can't just replace the coil i guess. Does anyone know if the igniter rides on the distributor? Can't find it in the book.
    Also, there is some play in the shaft. Have to at least get a new distro. Partsgeek has a refurbished one for $157.00 seems pretty cheap.

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    Igniter sits on top of your air filter box. It has a silver label with a black "79" printed on it. Used distributors often show up on eBay for $20 - $50. I did a quick search and found one for $60 http://www.ebay.com/itm/86-87-88-89-...147dfc&vxp=mtr. If you spent more time sifting through all the auctions you might find a better deal. Tim

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    Thanks. Any idea what the igniter part # is?

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    Here's a copy/Paste from www.1stToyotaParts.com:

    IGNITER ASSY
    Make: Toyota | Part#: 89620-28040
    List Price: $615.67
    Your Price: $455.27

    Somebody is selling a new one on eBay for $449.99: http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-OEM-TOYO...236410&vxp=mtr

    There's usually a used one on eBay for $50 - $100, but I don't currently see any used ones there.

    As for me, I prefer the $5.00 - $15.00 used ones from the Pick-n-Pull salvage yards. Pick them up when you don't need them, because odds are you will someday. Tim

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    Quote Originally Posted by timsrv View Post
    Here's a copy/Paste from www.1stToyotaParts.com:

    IGNITER ASSY
    Make: Toyota | Part#: 89620-28040
    List Price: $615.67
    Your Price: $455.27

    Somebody is selling a new one on eBay for $449.99: http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-OEM-TOYO...236410&vxp=mtr

    There's usually a used one on eBay for $50 - $100, but I don't currently see any used ones there.

    As for me, I prefer the $5.00 - $15.00 used ones from the Pick-n-Pull salvage yards. Pick them up when you don't need them, because odds are you will someday. Tim


    My van needs an igniter I saw some on ebay about 2 months ago used for $100. I'ma have to try the junk yard and try my luck there. By any chance do you have a spare igniter you would sell ?

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    I'm looking to replenish mine now. All the spares I had are being "borrowed". At least one of them resolved his issue & no longer needs it............but ignores my requests to get it back (kind of spoils it for everybody else). If/when I find more I'll be happy to share again. Good luck. Tim

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    Quote Originally Posted by timsrv View Post
    I'm looking to replenish mine now. All the spares I had are being "borrowed". At least one of them resolved his issue & no longer needs it............but ignores my requests to get it back (kind of spoils it for everybody else). If/when I find more I'll be happy to share again. Good luck. Tim
    Hey so I still have no luck on ebay searching for an igniter . Do you know if it can be rebuilt/refurbished ? I haven't had a chance chance to go to a pick and pull yet . But my concern is what if I find one and it doesn't work after all ?

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    That's always possible, but considering all the other reasons a vehicle can end up there, the odds of it being a bad igniter are pretty slim. I did just buy a couple of igniters from another member, so I am whole again with my spares. If you promise to send it back when you're done, PM me your info and I'll send you one. Tim

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    Re: How to test igniter?

    Intermittent igniter or ECU issue possible?

    A couple days ago I went 5 blocks and the van died. I checked all the fuses/fusible links and everything looked good. Engine was cranking strong, but seemed like no spark. Tested for codes and got Code #3 (ignition circut, igniter, or ecu). Tried for a while and then got towed on a flatbed. Now today in the driveway I check the codes again and still just code #3. I thought I'll try to start it, what the heck. It started right up. I cleared the codes and started it again with no problems. Leery about driving before I feel like the issue is actually resolved. Any insights on this? thanks!

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