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Thread: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

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    Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    1991 Previa LE RWD

    When I bought this Previa last year,the first day I had it, I ran it through the carwash that sprays underneath the car to help keep it clean under there. As I was diving into the carwash with the underneath sprayer going, it stalled the engine. I eventually got it started. I didn't use the underneath wash again!

    Then one day I drove through a pretty good sized puddle. The same thing happened. It stalled the engine. got it to start after a time. Now I avoid puddles!!!

    Today, I took the front seat out and removed the engine cover and used Gunk Original to help clean off some of the oil mess from the Valve Cover Leak that I replaced two days ago. After I rinsed it off with the garden hose, the engine turned over but wouldn't start. I let it sit for a time. Then it started (After grinding the starter for a long time). It idled rough, then smoothed out. But then when I would put it into gear it would run rough again. So I le it ide until it came up to normal temperature, then it ran fine.

    After that long winded description....

    Is there something I can do to help prevent the engine from stalling when getting wet underneath? Somebody mentioned Dielectric Grease for the distributor?

    Has this happened to you?

    Do you have any suggestions, so I don't have to worry about driving it when it rains?

    Thank you so much!

    James

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Hi James. When this happens it typically means something isn't sealed correctly. 1st thing that comes to mind is water intrusion into the distributor. There should be a rubber gasket to seal between the cap & the distributor housing. Make sure this gasket is there and aligned correctly. Also check all the plug wires (particularly the coil one) to make sure they are pushed in all the way and the locking caps are secured. If you have a hard time pushing in the plug wires, silicone spray is an awesome solution.

    If it happens again before you fix, assuming you have a place suitable to climb under the van, you could pull the distributor cap and look inside. If there's moisture in there then that's likely the problem. You can speed up the drying process by spraying with compressed air or using a product meant for dispersing/displacing water. WD-40 will work here too, but I would avoid using that in favor of something that won't leave a residue behind. Your local auto parts store should have a can of something that will work. Tim

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Thank You, Tim... Distributor seal. Thank goodness it's fixable.

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    That's Toyota part #19127-76010. Sells for about $3.00. Tim

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    If that's it, and you find it's missing, brittle, or otherwise trashed, it's Toyota p/n 19127-76010. $2-3

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Lol PD, I beat you to it

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Thank you guys!

    The cost of having a car repaired nowadays is ridiculous! Thank you for supplying all of us wannabe shadetree mechanics with the knowledge and confidence to tackle these issues ourselves.

    (Waves)

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Drove through a puddle two days ago and within a couple of seconds my 86 Toyota van died and won't start back up. All power seems to be there and it is cranking fine but I don't have spark. Replaced coil cap and wires a few months ago and all of those still look great. Checked codes and I'm getting a single constant blink with about 3 seconds in between ( which I think is telling me everything is normal?) Any help is very appreciated!!

    Thank you,
    Danny

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Danny, if you grind your engine it will start after five minutes or so. Most likely the plug on your distributor only clicked on one side. My Previa hates water puddles, I avoid them and the under wash car washes.

    249k and still runs like a champ!
    Last edited by James; 01-19-2019 at 03:36 PM. Reason: AutoCorrected Previa

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Danny, this is the Previa subforum. You'll want to read through and then possibly post in one of these three Van threads instead:


    Gwen
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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Quote Originally Posted by llamavan View Post
    Danny, this is the Previa subforum. You'll want to read through and then possibly post in one of these three Van threads instead:

    Gwen
    Thank you Gwen, I will repost In one of the above threads. Sorry about that! Was having a hard time finding the most appropriate thread.

    danny

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    lets revive this time-honored classic previa problem!

    Last year when I bought this thing it wouldn't even start in the fog, but I replaced the cap and o-ring and thought all was well. Its not.

    Today I died in traffic twice, just because there were a few unavoidable puddles. Dead. Was very lucky I got it started both times, after many tries.

    So what the heck? I don't remember any fixes for this issue other than what I've already done. I even installed the plastic undercover from my 93 thatthis one lacked, although that doesn't even reach the distributor. I don't see that I'm missing any other shields, although I won't rule it out.

    Saran wrap the cap? Spray it with flexible sealant? I'm only half-joking. These were very minor wet conditions, and they killed it dead.

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Probably not it, but have you already checked that little fuse box that's part of the positive battery cable? https://www.toyotavantech.com/forum/...-Previa-LE-AWD

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Geico Insurance fixed mine when I drove through a deep flash rain puddle. It turned out I had a cracked Distributor Cap. It wouldn't restart. It cranked until I killed the battery. I called Geico Roadside Assistance. They sent a car with a jump box. Still no start. I called again and they sent a Tow Truck. The downpour stalled several cars and on the ride home, the Driver said, "It looks like a lot of Flood Claims tonite". When I got home, I called in a Flood Claim with Geico. They gave me a rental car and paid more than $1,500.00 to have the Shorted Out Distributor and Spark Plug Wires replaced. With my Zero dollar deductible for Comprehensive Coverage it didn`t cost anything. Full Coverage Insurance on my 1991 Previa is not expensive.

    A cracked Distributor Cap. The Mechanic Shop replaced the Distributor and Wires and it runs like a champ!

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    I had a Previa that had a lot of corrosion in the coil - in the socket that the fat high voltage wire from the distributor plus into. That would at least be a relatively easy thing to check. It's bolted to the floor just aft of the distributor above a heat deflector plate.

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    Geico Insurance fixed mine when I drove through a deep flash rain puddle. It turned out I had a cracked Distributor Cap. It wouldn't restart. It cranked until I killed the battery. I called Geico Roadside Assistance. They sent a car with a jump box. Still no start. I called again and they sent a Tow Truck. The downpour stalled several cars and on the ride home, the Driver said, "It looks like a lot of Flood Claims tonite". When I got home, I called in a Flood Claim with Geico. They gave me a rental car and paid more than $1,500.00 to have the Shorted Out Distributor and Spark Plug Wires replaced. With my Zero dollar deductible for Comprehensive Coverage it didn`t cost anything. Full Coverage Insurance on my 1991 Previa is not expensive.

    A cracked Distributor Cap. The Mechanic Shop replaced the Distributor and Wires and it runs like a champ!
    Brand new cap and 0-ring less than 15,000 miles ago so i don't think it is that.

    Quote Originally Posted by timsrv View Post
    Probably not it, but have you already checked that little fuse box that's part of the positive battery cable? https://www.toyotavantech.com/forum/...-Previa-LE-AWD
    Hmmm, interesting thought which I would normally rule out except...the other day my ECU apparently lost power briefly. I started the van and my check engine light didn't come on (its always on) and my clock had reset. Though I'm not sure how splashing through tiny puddles would exacerbate corrosion in the fuses, and both times it died I had just splashed through very insignificant puddles on the distributor side at very moderate speed. But I will check it out

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Gahhh, I'm in the desert so forgot all about this issue until the monsoon hit. Then it died, dead dead dead after the first puddle I drove through yesterday. Fortunately I only had to sit for an hour until it dried out and started again.

    I don't get why this would be happening unless I need to grease my distributor connectors or I somehow installed the distributor cap gasket wrong. Pretty sure the plug wires were replaced with the engine last year but I'll double check. This is ridiculous, and the monsoon has just begun

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    Well I found out what it wasn't. I dielectric greased all the cap and coil connections and headed for some small puddles within 2 blocks of home to test. Fail.

    Took the cap off and found out I must have the famous o-ring leak. Oily dirt inside the distributor cap so even though the cap gasket and cap look good, its leaking dirt in somewhere (unless it was just electrode particles) and must be allowing moisture in. No oil dripping to the ground so I never suspected the o-ring was bad. I'm a bit confused though, I thought the famous distributor oil leak was an outside leak, not inside the distributor. Anyone know if this is a different problem?

    Anyway I'll replace the cap and rotor and gasket and maybe the o-ring and hope there are still some puddles close to home when all the parts arrive next week.

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    I wonder how much if any the heat insulator helps in keeping water off the distributor. I didn't realize mine was missing, because there is an insulator of sorts bolted there but it is not stock, I now realize. Its just a rectangular piece of steel. Oddly my 93 parts van has the same thing though, which is why I thought it was normal. I suppose that could be my problem, if not water protection it might not be protecting the distributor from heat well enough. Maybe its expanding just enough to break the seal and let water in or causing tiny cracks that I can't see. Gonna have to find a proper insulator too.

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    Re: Engine Stalls when I hit a puddle in the rain

    With the key in the "run" position and engine not running, you should see the "check engine" light. If you are not seeing that, then your problem is not the distributor, it's electrical or ECU related. The "check engine" light comes from the ECU and it will always illuminate if the key is in the "run" position when the engine is not running. If you are not getting that light, then you have an electrical/ECU related problem. If I were chasing this and did not get a "check engine" light, the 1st thing I would do is check for power to the ECU. If you're not seeing power there, by far the most likely culprit is that little fuse box that's attached to the battery positive cable, but it could be an issue anywhere in the ECU power supply circuit.

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