Hesitation or No Start Due to Internal Distributor Fault on Geo Prizm

Problem Description and Possible Solution

The ignition coil inside the distributor may fail. Our technicians tell us this may result in a hesitation on acceleration, especially when the vehicle is warming up on cold, rainy days. The pickup coils inside the distributor can also fail and cause a no-start condition. There have also been some failures of the radio noise suppressors inside the distributors, which can short out. Our technicians recommend replacing the whole distributor with a complete, genuine Toyota distributor if any of its components fail.

Problem Data
RepairPal Verified
Average mileage: 178,862 (80,000–266,525)
Engines affected: 1.6L 4 Cylinder, 1.8L 4 Cylinder
8 model years affected: 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, more1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
40 people reported this problem
Viewing 1 - 19 of 19 comments
replace distributor and still having the same problem with no spark replaced map sensor ECM or ECUstarted and ran for about 2 minutes shut it off then I tried to start it again and it wouldn't start found out no power coming out of black wire on the distributor any ideas
i have replaced the ignition coil and it still dies and is hard to start what is the cause and effects of this problem and what else do i have to replace.
My 1990 geo prizm just started not wanting to start now the day before it was running great no problems. I would crank and crank but no start so before I ran any test on it I replaced my fuel pump and fuel filter made sure I was getting fuel to the engine so I was car started ran for about two minutes then shut off.. then I check to make sure I was getting fire and I wasn't so I replace the distributor, coil and distributor cap with wires..started car it started first try and again after about five ten minutes it shut off.. back to check fuel and fire now getting fuel no fire when the cars engine reaches its temp it shuts off and I get no fire to the engine.. so I trick the system in given me the codes and the code is a throttle position sensor.. could this be the cause of all my problems? Could someone please tell me what's going on with my car
I just st install an ignition coil on my 94 Geo Prizsm now it won't pick up speed what's wrong is it a sensor
cranked but no start, changed distributor, car ran ok for a couple miles, then no start, changed distributor assembly again with new, ran for longer but requires another distributor!
Was working fine. Next time I tried to start it, it seems that the plugs are not firing.
My car died. Very hard to start, if it did start at all. Ignition coil appeared to ohm out ok. So I replaced fuel pump. Still a problem, So then the fuel presssure regulator. Still not good. Would cut out, then run ok. Then would not start unless really cranked it. I checked and replaced the throttle postion switch. Ran better, but would cut out. I ohmed out the Ignition coil again. A bit over spec. So I replaced it. It is runnnig good. Except that it is displaying error code 71, egr valve. I try and clean it. Still a nice car I bought brand new in 1994. It has given us great service for many years.
I've had trouble starting my car. The times when you would think it should have trouble, it's fine. Then it randomly refuses to start even though there is plenty of cranking power in the battery. It's really a hit and miss situation. The mechanic is guessing it could need a new distributor but so far it has started perfectly for them -- 30+ times while at the shop.
I just purchased this car a few weeks ago. On my initial test drive(s) the vehicle was always cold and didn't really exhibit the problem- stumble/loss of power on acceleration. I pulled out the distributor last week just to see what I could determine by inspection and checking with an ohm meter. On visual inspection I could find no indications of any obvious problems- looked real good! -I checked the impedance of the coil, and it was within specs -or if off just barely.

secondary resistance 11,700 Ohms (11.74 kohms)

primary resistance 1.7 ( *maybe 1.8~1.9)Ohms

( * I suspect this reading to be erroneous due to my using a pretty low-quality meter. Probably actually would've measured 2.0 ohms or greater with a quality meter.)

I took a leap of faith and ordered one off of eBay made by 'Gamma Electric' - American made and cost less than $20- I know, I know, but that is all the market would allow. Today I installed it, checked the pickup coil impedance this time (it was fine) also visually inspected further into the distributor what I could see with the coil removed- all looked good there, too, except some strange waxy buildup on the cam sensor reluctor (?)

I put the new coil in, put the distributor back in, buckled it all up... and wow am I impressed! -I could tell it was an improvement from the moment I turned the key in the ignition! It always started fine before, but this time (now) it just feels "spunkier" -and the performance is way beyond my expectations!

Test drive @ 20 miles -no hesitation, no loss of power, really good and strong acceleration from standing stop and WOT high speed pass ... just wanted to keep on accelerating, not a hint of the original problem! -Actually amazed at the ability of that tiny 1.6l motor to respond like this! -I thought the acceleration before was probably about right for an econo-box with such a small engine (that is while cold, before displaying the stumbling) but I'm pleased to report that this little car can flat out s#$t and git! -Runs like a scalded ape!

I can see that there are many possible problem areas that might arise in the distributor on these, but I'm happy to report that -even though it "ohm'ed out" okay, all it took to fix my little '94 Prizm 1.6l was $20 bucks, an afternoon, and a little faith. (Well, make that prayer and faith. -Sure can't hurt :) )
Distributor failed, replaced distributor.
Engine skipping found #2 cylinder dead windings on pick up coil wrapped around distributor shaft copper slivers found in the bottom of the distributor cap causing #2 plug wire to ground out on the distributor body Replaced pickup coil
Coil failed, no spark to any cylinder at 135000 mi. Now HEI code displays with poor engine performance but spark on all cylinders. HEI module $300 +.
It was sitting, idling and just shut off as if I turned the car off. Now it gets no spark at all. I think I tested the module inside the distributor correctly, and got nothing there either
It put puts and looses power
intermittent starting problem, noise suppression deteriorating on AM stations
Replaced distributor.
Cutting off and turns over acts like it's not getting gas
Ignition sticks and won't turn over and it dings but no interior lights
car wouldnt start . had a weak spark.plugs were wet and in bad shape replaced plugs. car started right up.ran at idle for 20 mins to charge ran fine.i shut it off and it started up again.went for a ride and car died. now i have no sprk and plugs seen to be dry
distributor failed