Check Engine Light Flash, and engine sputter - Toyota Celica Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2010, 01:13 AM Thread Starter
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Hello everyone, i just bought my 1991 celica gt 2.2 about a month and a half ago. love the thing. had a fews problems so far.. like all vehicles.. and has 244500 miles on it but anyways, tonight i was on the way home. in fifth gear just cruising at about 55. all of a sudden the check engine light comes on, the engine seemed to sputter for a second or two then the light went off and the sputtering stopped, happened again about five minutes later and then just stopped again and the light went back off. this is the first time ive had any type of problem like this with the car, and im wondering if anyone else has experienced this too...?

thanks. and hey everyone im new to the site
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2010, 08:37 AM
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You have a diagnostic connector under the hood, just behind the driver's side strut tower. Open it, and jumper (you can use a paper clip) terminals TE1 and E1. With key in ignition, turn it to the ON position (don't start the car). Your check engine light should be flashing. You should have a set of flashes that are rapid, a small pause, then another set of flashes, followed by a long pause, then it starts over again. Count the number of flashes. Say you have 5 rapid flashes, short pause, then 4 rapid flashes, then long pause. That would be code 54. Do this test and tell us what code(s) are flashing. This will really help you with your problem.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2010, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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QUOTE (93celicaconv @ Apr 12 2010, 07:37 AM)
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You have a diagnostic connector under the hood, just behind the driver's side strut tower. Open it, and jumper (you can use a paper clip) terminals TE1 and E1. With key in ignition, turn it to the ON position (don't start the car). Your check engine light should be flashing. You should have a set of flashes that are rapid, a small pause, then another set of flashes, followed by a long pause, then it starts over again. Count the number of flashes. Say you have 5 rapid flashes, short pause, then 4 rapid flashes, then long pause. That would be code 54. Do this test and tell us what code(s) are flashing. This will really help you with your problem.[/B]
Awesome man. i appreciate the advice because my local autozone cant read a 91 ecu. and the mechanic told me itd be 38 dollars just for a read. and ill try what you said. but i do have another question. would it still give a code even though the check engine light isnt on anymore and just did came on for that sputter episode?

thanks a lot
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2010, 05:10 PM
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Per the shop manual:

If a malfunction is detected when in the normal mode, the ECM lights up the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) to inform the driver of the occurence of a malfuction (for some codes, the lamp does not come on). The lamp goes off automatically when the malfuction has been repaired or is no longer detected. But the diagnostic trouble code(s) remain stored in the ECM memory. The ECM stores the code(s) until it is cleared by removing the EFI fuse with the ignition switch off, or the battery terminal(s) are removed.

Long answer above, but yes, you will get a stored DTC code number, even if the MIL is now off.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2010, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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QUOTE (93celicaconv @ Apr 12 2010, 04:10 PM)
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Per the shop manual:

If a malfunction is detected when in the normal mode, the ECM lights up the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) to inform the driver of the occurence of a malfuction (for some codes, the lamp does not come on). The lamp goes off automatically when the malfuction has been repaired or is no longer detected. But the diagnostic trouble code(s) remain stored in the ECM memory. The ECM stores the code(s) until it is cleared by removing the EFI fuse with the ignition switch off, or the battery terminal(s) are removed.

Long answer above, but yes, you will get a stored DTC code number, even if the MIL is now off.[/B]



dude thanks a lot, really. youre the man. i appreciate all the help. thought id just get a "youre sol" type answer by posting on here. but anyways, did the diagnostic trick and got a 14. 1..short pause..4.. long pause.. and repeated.
What does this code mean?
my cars been doing it again today, when i was at a stop light or something, car in neutral itd stall. and when i was driving at a constant speed the engine would sputter, and tachometer would go up and down all crazy until it stopped. ol dude at autozone told me possibly and idling sensor..? but if you could tell me what the code is actually interpreted as, thatd be great. thanks
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-13-2010, 09:51 AM
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Code 14 is an ignition signal code. It means the ignition signal from the igniter is not being input to the Engine Control Module (ECM) for at least 4-5 consecutive pulses.

Being intermitent makes it a tough diagnosis.

Has any work been done on the engine's distributor area recently? Has the engine been recently cleaned or washed down with water?

Your igniter is located just above your power brake booster, mounted to the firewall. It is also just below the weatherstrip that seals water from getting into the engine compartment via the windshield when the hood is closed. If you weatherstrip above the igniter is bad or missing, you may have gotten moisture in the ingiter wiring connector, and may have some corrosion going on in there.

My suggestion is to check the area around the igniter out, especially that weatherstrip. Pull the wiring connector out of the igniter and check for corrosion. If you see any evidence of corrosion, try removing it. Also spray the wiring harness and the socket in the igniter with electrical contact cleaner and let it dry for a few minutes. Then reconnect and see if the problem occurs again.

If it does, but is still intermittent, you could have an open or short in either either the white wire or the black wire with yellow strip between the igniter wiring harness and the ECM wiring harness, or you could have a defective igniter, or a defective ECM (highly unlikely the ECM would be defective though). With your tach going crazy when this happens, this tells me your wiring harness is OK, but it could be a problem with your igniter, or with the input coming from your ignition coil (meaning the white wire with blue stripe between the ignition coil and the igniter, or the ignition coil itself (located in the distributor), or the wiring harness at the distributor. Coils have been known to go bad on these vehicles.

Hope this helps. Let me know what you find out and if you have any further questions to help diagnose this further.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-13-2010, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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QUOTE (93celicaconv @ Apr 13 2010, 08:51 AM)
Quote:
Code 14 is an ignition signal code. It means the ignition signal from the igniter is not being input to the Engine Control Module (ECM) for at least 4-5 consecutive pulses.

Being intermitent makes it a tough diagnosis.

Has any work been done on the engine's distributor area recently? Has the engine been recently cleaned or washed down with water?

Your igniter is located just above your power brake booster, mounted to the firewall. It is also just below the weatherstrip that seals water from getting into the engine compartment via the windshield when the hood is closed. If you weatherstrip above the igniter is bad or missing, you may have gotten moisture in the ingiter wiring connector, and may have some corrosion going on in there.

My suggestion is to check the area around the igniter out, especially that weatherstrip. Pull the wiring connector out of the igniter and check for corrosion. If you see any evidence of corrosion, try removing it. Also spray the wiring harness and the socket in the igniter with electrical contact cleaner and let it dry for a few minutes. Then reconnect and see if the problem occurs again.

If it does, but is still intermittent, you could have an open or short in either either the white wire or the black wire with yellow strip between the igniter wiring harness and the ECM wiring harness, or you could have a defective igniter, or a defective ECM (highly unlikely the ECM would be defective though). With your tach going crazy when this happens, this tells me your wiring harness is OK, but it could be a problem with your igniter, or with the input coming from your ignition coil (meaning the white wire with blue stripe between the ignition coil and the igniter, or the ignition coil itself (located in the distributor), or the wiring harness at the distributor. Coils have been known to go bad on these vehicles.

Hope this helps. Let me know what you find out and if you have any further questions to help diagnose this further.[/B]
I was googling a little last night and some people described the dirty/bad iacv symptoms kind of like my symptoms. would a dirty/bad iacv throw a 14?

my weatherstrip and what not looks decent, and i took out the electrical plug for the igniter and the prongs or whatever inside look brand new. they look fine. however, about two weeks ago i was at the self car wash and i did use the engine degreaser and sprayed the heck out of my whole engine with the degreaser. dont know if this woulda done it. but yeah.

um.. theres another little electrical device to the left of the igniter i think its an igniter coil maybe. well theres a wire to the adapter where i can see the inside of the wire. looks like the wire would prolly be alright and working, but yeah.
and no i havent done any distributor work.

okay so here are my symptoms that i know of so far:

car stalls when at a stop and in nuetral.
car sputters, engine light comes on, and tach goes crazy when driving at steady speed
igniter wires look good, prongs inside look perfect.
got a code 14.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-13-2010, 06:39 PM
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In order of your last post:

By iacv, do you mean Idle Air Control (IAC) valve? First, if there was a failure with this valve, it would not throw a code 14. Also, it only affects the amount of air bypassing the throttle plate; it would not affect an engine running at highway speed. It might affect idle, when you do not have your foot on the pedal. But I would rule this out.

That little electrical device you saw to the left of the igniter, was it right in the center of the firewall? Was it a small, round device with a 2-wire connector on it? It it right between the EGR valve and the EGR modular (which are mounted on your intake manifold)? If yes, this is your intake manifold vacuum sensor. If this was malfunctioning, it would throw a code 31, and you did not mention this code in your previous thread.

Given that you did wash down your engine, you may have a moisture problem in one of your connectors, possibly causing a little corrosion now, which is intermittently causing an open circuit. This can happen when engines are washed down with water.

I would loosen the screws on your distributor cap at this point, and pull out the distributor cap just a little (don't have to remove it, just slide it back an inch or 2). Did some water droplets come out of the bottom? If yes, this was due to you washing the engine down. Water often gets in the distributor cap. You will have to completely remove it at this point, dry it completely out, and let the condensed moisture inside the distributor assembly dry out for a few hours. Then put the distributor cap back on. See if everything runs better after this. If no water droplets come out the bottom when the cap it slide back, just put it back on again and tighten the screws.

Did you apply electrical contact cleaner to the igniter wiring connector and to the connections within the igniter itself? If not, I would still do that.

At this stage, knowing you washed down your engine a little while ago, I would also disconnect the wiring connector at your distributor, and spray the electrical contact cleaner on both the wiring harness contacts and the contacts at the distributor connection. Let everything dry out, then reconnect.

Are the symptoms still intermittent, or have they become consistent, always occuring now?

If still inconsistent, see what happens with opening and cleaning the two wiring harness contacts and the igniter and distributor connections. The problem might not come back.

If it still does, we might want to try a different igniter temporarily, as I'm thinking this is more than likely the problem, if the wiring checks out all good after you clean them good. I wouldn't get a new one (it cost $600 at a Toyota dealer). Do you have access to a salvage yard? You can probably get one next to nothing from there.

I'm thinking that you don't have a ignition coil problem right now, because you should otherwise be getting another code on your check engine light when you jumper TE1 & E1 in the diagnostic connector. Because you are only getting code 14, and no others, I'm thinking your coil is probably OK.

Let me know the feedback if the problem is still intermittent, and what happens after you clean the igniter and distributor wiring harness contacts and pins from the igniter and distributor connections.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-13-2010, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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yes i meant the idle air control valve. and okay, wasnt sure if this would throw a 14 or not thats why i asked. just saw that this was a code 14 on some vehicles and some of the symptoms of a bad iac valve sounded like mine.

and the little electric device i was talking about was the ignition coil im pretty sure. black square box about 6 inches to the left of the igniter. thats the one with the connector that has the wire that exposed the actual inside wiring. (black and orange wire is the exposed one btw)


and ill try loosening the distributor cap and see if any water exists, and no i didnt spray any eleictrical contact cleaner i dont have any.

anyways, heres for the update: drove my parents car to school today, came home, and took the ignitor wire harness out blew it out, let it stay unplugged for awhile jus in case there was moisture in it. took the wire harness out of the something coil(black square box just to the left of the ignitor mounted to the firewall, not vacuum sensor) blew it out and let it stay unplugged to possibly dry a little. then i took out my air duct and cleaned my throttle plate just because i saw somethin bout it on youtube and looked quick and easy, and isnt a bad thing to do. after i let the throttle plate dry good after cleaning it, i put the air duct back on, reconnected wiring harnesses and drove 40 miles without a problem.

i dont know if this problem'll start back up again hopefully not. but im sure itll happen tommorrow if it still exists. ill keep you posted. thanks for the help.

would the black and orange wire from that coil box thingy cause these problems if there was a short?
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-14-2010, 08:30 AM
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Your ignition coil is located within the distributor housing. So that black box you mentioned is not an ignition coil.

Does the black box have a Toyota part number on it (xxxxx-xxxxx), or is something written on the housing to explain what it is? My Celica doesn't have a black box on the firewall next to my igniter, so I really don't know what you have there.

Maybe you have already fixed the problem with what you have done so far, or maybe any residual moisture from the time you degreased and washed the engine has now evaporated so you won't have a problem any further. If so, great! But if it comes back, let us know.
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