"No start" Due to Pickup Coil Failure Inside Distributor on Toyota Camry

Problem Description and Possible Solution

The pickup coil inside the distributor can fail and cause a no-start condition. There have also been some failures of the radio noise suppressors inside the distributor which can short out. It is recommended to replace the whole distributor with a complete genuine Toyota distributor if any of its components fail.

Problem Data
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Average mileage: 186,058 (100,000–345,768)
Engines affected: 1.6L 4 Cylinder, 2.0L 4 Cylinder, 2.2L 4 Cylinder, 3.0L V6
8 model years affected: 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, more1995, 1996, 1997, 2002
81 people reported this problem
Viewing 1 - 20 of 33 comments
I was driving on the freeway (rush hour traffic, of course) when all of a sudden the engine just died. Will not start. Turns over. Further checking reveals not only no spark at the plug, but also no spark going into distributor. AHHHHH!!!
Tricky to diagnose coil failure because you may still have a spark at the plug and think it is some other problem, but in fact the spark is too weak to provide ignition. At 190,000 miles I had the same symptoms (car cranks normally, sounds like the engine wants to catch but never does) So I replaved the coil again, didn't fix it, and after further research learned about the stupid radio filter capacitor inside the distributor will overheat, and the potting will melt. This allows the capacitor to ground out the whole ignition system so the car won't start. Rather than removing the coil again to gain access to the capacitor, I just cut the wire lead from the capacitor going to the terminal connection. Thuis solved the problem. Crazy. For those old enough to remember mechanical distributors, this capacitor was called a condesor and served the same purpose - eliminate radio interference from the distibutor. By the way, cutting the lead did not affect the radio at all!!
the car runs great but only for about 10 miles. then it shuts down as if there is no ignition. after it cools dow for awhile it starts again
Car ran fine on a Monday morning going to work. After driving in rush hour traffic for 30-40 minutes the engine decides it wants to shut off, I restarted it and was able to coast to the off-ramp. Had it towed home. I replaced fuel pump & ignition coil, engine cranks over strong but won't start or perform coughing effect. The plugs have a weak spark when checked against the engine block.
starts runs fine for 2-ten mins. then dies ; wait 2-3 min restarts then dies. removed capacitor inside distributor
The ignition coil, which is attached by screws to the disributor body, can fail because of heat, age, etc. This will cause a weak spark. The engine will almost catch, but will not start. The coil potting had cracked and this resulted in a weak spark. About 50,000 miles later, I had the same symptoms and replaced the coil again. Problem continued and through internet research I learned that the radio interference capacitor had melted, and this shorted the coil to ground. You could replace the capacitor, but it is easier to reach in with small side cutters and just clip the connection. These capacitors were also called "condensers" in older distributors. Cutting the wire did not affect the radio. This apply to all 4 cylinders w/the distributor.
AM2 fuse blows every time the ignition switch is turned on. Thought the problem was related to the fuel pump but when the pump was disconnected, the fuse still blew. Read this thread online and followed the diagnostic procedure by removing the connectors to the distributor. Replacement fuse did not blow when ignition switch was turned on.
Also had this problem right after I bought car (used). $200 plus $50 tow for a $10 part.
blown fuse on am2 circuit, traced short to noise suppressor in distributor, replaced distributor w/reman.
While driving the car after it was warmed up it would just stop. Could not start again until it cooled down. Let car idle in driveway for about a half hour and it stopped. Checked for spark and there was none. Waited about 15 min and it was back. Replaced complete distributor and car runs great. This has happened twice to this car. First around 140,000 mi and then around 230,000 mi.
i have no spark coming from my coil to the cap and the wires to the plug i have replaced all of them
The car fires right up, drive short distance and run in and out real quick then car won't start. Have dash lights, power windows work, but when you turn the key to start you get nothing. (No cranking, clicking, trying to turn over, just nothing) Wait 2 to 10 minutes and it fires right up again. Any help???
I had someone with the same problem. No start. Inspected the internals of the distributor. Dist Cap had the coil carbon button missing. Replaced it. Still no start. Checked the coil and ohmed out within specs. Recommended replacing anyways and it started. Cool. The next day it went back to no start again. Checked the module. Good. So we took a chance and replaced the Dist with a salvage yard unit (I know... bad idea) But it fixed it and has run for a while now.

I think the key here was that there was no spark AND no fuel pump start up.

Most Coils will crack across epoxy. So its usually a good first step.
Driving along at 35 MPH and car stopped. Could not restart. Got help pushing into Firestone place. They diagnosed "distributor" and with their injector flush, new plugs and cables est $845 repair! Paid their $99 "diagnosis fee and had the car towed home.

Ordered a new distributor, installed it myself, set the timing and it has been running smoothly ever since. 1.5 hours of my time $60 for the distributor.