Tip & How-To about Toyota Celica

Toyota 5SFE 2.2 L

Toyota 5SFE /2.2 L /135 Hp /16 valve engine

Installed in my 1995 Celica GT Convertible.
202312 miles and counting. . .

My issues:
Rock solid construction. I absolutley cannot complain about this car. Given the mileage, it has outperformed many other engines as far as reliability.

Issue #1:
Stumbling and poor accelleration. Almost, but not quite stalling out. Sometimes acting normal, sometimes suddenly suffering from a severe lack of power. It almost felt like a transmission slipping out of gear.
Solving it: It was not the transmission. . .not this time, that happened later. I did a simple spark test with a new plug attached to the #1 cylinder spark plug wire. I expected to see a bright blue spark, but I saw a weak orange spark. hmm. So, I dusted off the manual, pulled out my voltmeter and started doing the voltage and resistance checks per the manual. HUH? everything regarding the distributor/coil/pickups checked out per manual specs. Then I went searching internet blogs and found the same symptoms I was suffering and the solution was unanimous. THE DISTRIBUTOR. so, why was I getting good readings, and my distributor was still bad??? I relented and bought a new one anyway, keeping my fingers crossed that it would work. And you know what? it worked!!!

Issue #2 :
at 168000 miles, my tranny started to slip in 2nd and 3rd gear. There was no mistaking it. I knew for certain that this was transmission. How? well, before, when I had a lack of power suddenly due to bad distributor, my RPMs dropped suddenly. But this time, when my tranny slipped, my RPMs surged, as if the engine was suddenly unloaded. Makes sense, doesn't it.? SO, I purchased one of those used ones with low miles off of the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) In Japan, emmisions requirements are very strict, and according to what I've read, licensing, parking and such is very expensive. As a result, it is cheaper for Japanese car owners to sell off their cars at the 5 year point and purchase a new one. These vehicles are parted out and sent to warehouses (mostly in CA) where they'll appear on Ebay and such. Swapped out the tranny myself in 3 days and was done in time to drive it back to work.

Issue #3 : Not starting / Intermittent starting. OK, the car had just rolled over 200K and I had just filled it up with gas. The Darn thing refused to start. So, there I am, full tank of gas, sitting there at the Sunoco station. . . Well, I've got a timing light and voltmeter in the trunk so I pull 'em out and do a quick check. Dang. No spark whatsoever. I call my wife, she picks me up. Later, I go back with a big truck and a tow rope ready to pull it back to the house which is less than 2 miles away. Just for $h!ts and grins, I try to start it up. Fired right up. . .sooo I drove it home and it never missed a beat. 3 days later I'm in the parking lot at work, and I try to fire it up. (it's been running great so far) and nothing. . .again. hmmm. Pull out the timing light. NO spark! WTF??? ok. maybe if I wait. . no spark. I catch a ride home with a coworker who lives near me. I come back on my days off with an auto transport rented from U haul and I take my car home. I still have the distributor from years ago so I reinstalled it. It fired up. Ran like ****, but it fired up. Basically I now had Issue #1 (above) ^ . So, I instantly knew that I had lost another distributor. So I ordered another one. 3 years, and kaput. Oh well. What's one to do? So, it works now, runs great. I'll just preorder another distributor and have it sent to my house in 3 years. LOL.

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I have a 1995 Toyota Celica with 2.2 Liter engine. Engine code 5sfe. Auto Trans. It has been going through distributors every 3 years. I have extensive experience with autos, but I want to protect the new distributor from failing like the others. How? Is this hopeless? Should I just resign myself to the fact that it's going to be a regular maintenance item, and leave it at that?

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toyota celica 1990 5sfe auto

The 5sfe is notorious for distributor problems. You'll get correct resistance readings on the primary and secondary coils, but your spark looks weak. Should see a bright blue spark with an audible POP when sparking. On some 5sfe engines, the coils are located in an all-in-one pacakage inside the distributor. You'll know if you have this one if the only large spark plug type wires connected to the distributor cap count 4 and go to the 4 cylinders. There will not be a center wire coming from a coil. This is the distributor that has issues. I am on my third one now. Same symptoms every time. I know exactly what to change when it happens, and it fixes it every time. Luckily, It's only about $95 if you do your searching well enough. Good luck

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