Question about 1992 Toyota MR2

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Mr2 cranks no start...will push start. Where should I begin on this issue?

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  • Toyota Master
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If the engine won't crank or cranks slowly when you attempt to start or jump start the engine (and the battery is fully charged), you can focus your attention on the starter circuit. A quick way to diagnose cranking problems is to switch on the headlights and watch what happens when you attempt to start the engine. If the headlights go out, a poor battery cable connection may be strangling the flow of amps. All battery cable connections should be checked and cleaned along with the engine-to-chassis ground straps.

Measuring the voltage drop across connections is a good way to find excessive resistance. A voltmeter check of the cable connections should show no more than 0.1 volt drop at any point, and no more than 0.4 volts for the entire starter circuit. A higher voltage drop would indicate excessive resistance and a need for cleaning or tightening.

Slow cranking can also be caused by undersized battery cables. Some cheap replacement cables have small gauge wire encased in thick insulation. The cables look the same size as the originals on the outside, but inside there is not enough wire to handle the amps.

When the engine cranks normally but won't start, you need to check ignition, fuel and compression. Ignition is easy enough to check with a spark tester or by positioning a plug wire near a good ground. No spark? The most likely causes would be a failed ignition module, distributor pickup or crankshaft position (CKP) sensor.

Module problems as well as pickup problems are often caused by loose, broken or corroded wiring terminals and connectors. Older GM HEI ignition modules are notorious for this. If you are working on a distributorless ignition system with a Hall effect crankshaft position sensor, check the sensor's reference voltage (VRef) and ground. The sensor must have 5 volts or it will remain permanently off and not generate a crank signal (which should set a fault code). Measure VRef between the sensor power supply wire and ground (use the engine block for a ground, not the sensor ground circuit wire). Don't see 5 volts? Then check the sensor wiring harness for loose or corroded connectors. A poor ground connection will have the same effect on the sensor operation as a bad VRef supply. Measure the voltage drop between the sensor ground wire and the engine block. More than a 0.1 voltage drop indicates a bad ground connection. Check the sensor mounting and wiring harness.

If a Hall effect crank sensor has power and ground, the next thing to check would be its output. With nothing in the sensor window, the sensor should be "on" and read 5 volts (VRef). Measure the sensor D.C. output voltage between the sensor signal output wire and ground (use the engine block again, not the ground wire). When the engine is cranked, the sensor output should drop to zero every time the shutter blade, notch, magnetic button or gear tooth passes through the sensor. No change in voltage would indicate a bad sensor that needs to be replaced.

If you see a good hot spark when you crank the engine, but it won't start, check for fuel. The problem might be a bad fuel pump.

On an older engine with a carburetor, pump the throttle linkage and look for fuel squirting into the carburetor throat. No fuel? Possible causes include a bad mechanical fuel pump, stuck needle valve in the carburetor, a plugged fuel line or fuel filter.

On newer vehicles with electronic fuel injection, connect a pressure gauge to the fuel rail to see if there is any pressure in the line. No pressure when the key is on? Check for a failed fuel pump, pump relay, fuse or wiring problem. On Fords, don't forget to check the inertia safety switch which is usually hidden in the trunk or under a rear kick panel. The switch shuts off the fuel pump in an accident. So if the switch has been tripped, resetting it should restore the flow of fuel to the engine. Lack of fuel can also be caused by obstructions in the fuel line or pickup sock inside the tank. And don't forget to check the fuel gauge. It is amazing how many no starts are caused by an empty fuel tank.

There is also the possibility that the fuel in the tank may be heavily contaminated with water or overloaded with alcohol. If the tank was just filled, bad gas might be causing the problem.

Test it and tell us news.

Posted on Sep 14, 2010

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