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Thread: Bought a 1986 Van: Hoping for Help with Initial Diagnostics

  1. #1
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    Bought a 1986 Van: Hoping for Help with Initial Diagnostics

    I bought a partly-running 1986 Van a couple of weeks ago. I'll try to keep the timeline short:

    - Seller was selling because it threw a CEL, he took it to a mechanic, mechanic replaced distributor and throttle body, and now van won't start without a jump and runs ROUGH. Seller claims van started/ran very smoothly before taking it to his mechanic.

    - After buying found out the car had been stolen/hotwired. The circuit board that near my left shin hangs down and has couple of unplugged wires.

    - I thought I traced starting problem to bad battery (the battery's voltage dropped from 12V to 3V when connected to car, assumed bad cell or something), and now, with a new battery, the car will start with some encouragement.

    Here are the current issues:

    - Will crank/start, but still has a few false starts/sputters
    - Runs VERY rich, especially right after starting. Smells like unburnt fuel over a wide radius
    - Misfires at higher rpms, usually when accelerating
    - Doesn't run smoothly at all

    I'm hoping that there are some knowledgeable people on here who may be able to suggest what could be the issue, and/or how to test for certain things not working. I thought maybe the distributor was installed incorrectly, as the seller's mechanic seemed pretty unreliable, but I'm not sure. Could also be something with fuel delivery system, causing poor running, misfires, running rich.

    Also, does anyone have any idea where I could get a diagram for the circuit board mentioned above?

    I used to be active on the VW vortex forum, and look forward to being a member of this community. Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
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    Re: Bought a 1986 Van: Hoping for Help with Initial Diagnostics

    Check for fuel pressure. Make sure there are no vacuum leaks the large intake hose(air cleaner to intake) if it has any cracks at all will cause the issues you speak of.

    Do you have a check engine light on now? If so check for codes. Running rich could be an open or disconnected 02 sensor, EFI coolant temp sensor. Checking for codes will reveal this.

    A leaky injector will cause a rich smell. Make sure you do not have fuel leaks at the injectors or at the rail , pressure regulator or pulsation damper. Fuel leaks will cause a van BBQ. You should pose this question in the Toyota Van 1984-1989 group on FB as well get more feedback that way

  3. #3
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    Re: Bought a 1986 Van: Hoping for Help with Initial Diagnostics

    JPERL, thanks for the reply. The air intake hose looks brand new. I believe that it and the throttle body were recently replaced.

    The CEL only flashes on when the car misfires/loses power for a second when I'm accelerating.

    Being the fuel smell only happens when the car is running, and I can't smell/see any fuel anywhere in the engine the engine area or on the ground, I'm assuming that it's not a leak.

    I'll buy a fuel pressure tester tomorrow and try that out this week, thanks!

    And thanks for the idea to cross post.

    I also have so many (!) unplugged wires and harnesses around the car that I wanted somewhere to post a picture or two and see if anyone can ID what is unplugged. Thank you!

  4. #4
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    Re: Bought a 1986 Van: Hoping for Help with Initial Diagnostics

    Unburnt fuel smells are bad, especially when you cant see a leak.
    You know what they say about assumptions.

    See this thread for what can happen
    Thread: Ebay Offering: '87 4WD

    Warning: The graphic pictures may be disturbing to many

  5. #5
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    Re: Bought a 1986 Van: Hoping for Help with Initial Diagnostics

    As a follow-up, all of these issues were resolved when I had a trusted mechanic reinstall the distributor. He said that it was difficult to have the distributor aligned/installed correctly. The van runs very smoothly now.

    Moral of the story: A misaligned/improperly installed distributor can cause (1) misfiring, (2) the engine to not start unless given gas, (3) a rough idle, and (4) a strong unburnt gas smell from the exhaust.

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