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Discussion Starter #1
A few days ago I went out to start my beloved rav4 for work. It was hard starting, once it started it sputtered for about 20 seconds then died. It cranks over and gets gas. But to my avil, no start. I've tried many things after combing over several discussions and tried just about all I can think of. New spark plugs, checked the feul filter and pump, checked the coil packs. I'm at a total loss. It was about 15 degrees farenheit that day but has warmed since then. If anybody has had similar problems any advice will help.
 

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-- What year is your Rav4?

-- Does it have an automatic or manual transmission?

-- Is the engine computer throwing any codes?

-- What, if any, maintenance has been done in the last few months?

-- When is the last time the timing belt and associated parts were changed? The TB tensioner can fail; the belt can stretch; oil can get into the timing belt area and cause a failed crankshaft position sensor; more.

-- I would start by checking the crankshaft position (CKP) sensor. The sensor itself requires a lot of labor to get to, but you can do some checks without putting your hands on the sensor itself. For example:
-wiring. Any chafing visible?
-connector. Are the female and male ends mating correctly, with no bent pins?
-resistance. Disconnect the male and female connector's ends. Use a multimeter to check the resistance of the sensor as follows:
Cold Resistance = 985 to 1,600 Ω
Hot Resistance = 1,265 to 1,890 Ω
-mounting. Inspecting the mounting is labor intensive. A small bolt holds the sensor in place. Did the bolt come loose? If so, the air gap is likely incorrect.
 

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Charge the battery, if not already done.

Fuel, air, and spark ... some easy things to check:

Will it fire (briefly) with some starting fluid in the intake?

Buying cheap/old gas, or keeping your tank fairly low? (Or have an enemy who put sugar in your tank, or you put in diesel, ...)

Air filter new?

Ditto on potential jumped timing belt. Unfortunately, could be many other things.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It's a 99 auto. it does briefly start using starting fluid and pushing the gas all the way. I've come into a decent knowledge of a code reader the past few months since my water pump went bad. But it isn't throwing a code. I'm going tomorrow to have my battery checked.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It's a 99 auto. it does briefly start using starting fluid and pushing the gas all the way. I've come into a decent knowledge of a code reader the past few months since my water pump went bad. But it isn't throwing a code. I'm going tomorrow to have my battery checked.
Timing belt and tensioner pulley are also brand new and it just recently had an oil change
 

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-- On these Rav4s, the battery can be just a little low and fail to crank the engine fast enough to fully start the engine.

-- How old are the alternator brushes? Has the battery charge warning light (the little battery icon on the instrument cluster) been coming on now and then in recent weeks while driving around town or on the highway?

-- If several weeks have passed since the timing belt and tensioner were changed, and the Rav4 was running fine during this time, then I would rule out a loose timing belt.
 

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-- If several weeks have passed since the timing belt and tensioner were changed, and the Rav4 was running fine during this time, then I would rule out a loose timing belt.
Unless it was a cheapo belt that stretched. Don't ask me how I know that ... :-{
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm gonna have my battery checked tomorrow. hopefully it's not the timing belt. That gave me enough headaches the first time.
 

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How your situation going? Having similar problem with mine 97 but I get code P0336 and even a new crankshaft position sensor didn't fix it.
 

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Luis, did you check that the connector is properly fastened? Look at the terminals on both the female and male ends of the connector. Are they bent? Is the wire to the sensor possibly chafed somewhere? You may want to use a multimeter and do some ground checks.
 

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Have check the plugs and spray with contact cleaner. Have followed the wire to the fire wall and it looks good hasn't check the sensor itself. Already replaced the EFI Relay it was crack so just change it for precautions, change the circuit opening relay, it crack on my hands trying to take it out. Fuel pump is good ( test it on 12 v) check and test the pigtail that plug from plug to fuel pump and was good. Change the distributor assembly ( Have bought last year a cheap eBay one, old one was good just didn't want the oil leak). Crankshaft position sensor is new bought at O'Reilly. Only thing I think is messing me is the crankshaft timing belt sprocket ( don't know the proper name,). If you or anyone knows what I am missing I will appreciate the help. Have pull the RAVY twice home and is my wife and kid getting stranded.
 

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Luis,

-- Have you tried clearing the code and seeing if it comes back? Disconnecting the battery's negative terminal for a few minutes should clear it, at least momentarily.

-- Is it only after the Rav4 has been running awhile that the engine suddenly stops running? Can you have your wife describe exactly what happened when the engine shut off?
 

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Last week it was blowing the 15 amp fuse for EFI. I suspected it was fuel pump problem. I have brand new pump I bought last year so I swapped it and wasn't it. Swapped the EFI Relay and it came to life. All that time it have the code I will erase it with scanner and even unplug battery and it comes back when rev pass 2000 rpm. It never showed at idle. That's why I change the crankshaft position sensor. It was running good but code show even faster now even at idle and when erase it it pop right away. Wife run it for almost 3-4 days and leave her at Wally world parking lot. Pull it home and put new EFI Relay and circuit opening relay. Start working again and run for couple days but the code just keep popping. Change the distributor back to old one thinking they were related code. Follow wires and make sure everything was well protect. Car runs for a day or two and leave wife stranded at church. She says before it happened it crank longer than normal. That's why I suspect the tooth on timing belt sprocket. But I am open to suggestions and thanks again for the help
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Update: I replaced the battery suspecting it had gone bad; it was fairly old to begin with; but it did not solve the problem. My next step is to check the efi relay and alternator. I'll have that checked at my nearest autozone.
 

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Those Relay are getting expensive the EFI cost 35 bucks here in Mobile and the circuit opening relay was 33 but AutoZone don't have them advance do.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Update so far: turns out the battery and the relays were not the problem. Not for sure what else it could be. Could it be the alternator?
 

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Luis, I am looking at the 1996-1997 factory service manual, diagnostics section. See attachment. For a code p0336, the manual mostly points to the camshaft (not crankshaft) position sensor and associated wiring. As it sounds like you know, the camshaft position sensor on the 1996-1997 Rav4 is located in the distributor. The "camshaft position sensor" is also known as the "pickup coil" and "signal generator." If you bought an entirely new distributor housing, then there should be a brand new camshaft position sensor/pickup coil/signal generator. You have swapped out the distributors a few times, only to see the problem recur. Can you look over the connector for the camshaft position sensor (mounted in the distributor) and make sure the pins are not bent? Then check for chafed wire from the distributor's camshaft position sensor to the wire harness and computer?

From the second manual section, the resistance of the 1996-97's distributor camshaft position sensor/pickup coil/signal generator is supposed to be:
Cold 135 − 220 Ω
Hot 175 − 255 Ω

You can check the reluctor tooth on the sprocket ("signal rotor" inside the distributor but since you have swapped out the distributors a few times now, I doubt it is the problem.

I also doubt the reluctor tooth on the crankshaft sprocket is the problem. But next time you have everything apart down there, sure, take a look.

Does this distributor rotate at all? In other words, do any of the hold-down bolts fit into a slot in the distributor housing? The slot allows one to rotate the distributor to set timing. I am not sure this exists on the 1996-97 Rav4 but it is worth checking.

The manual speaks of replacing the computer (ECU). But the computers rarely fail, so I would not consider this right now.

Aside: Luis, maybe start a new thread? The 1996-1997 Rav4s are different enough for this problem that I do not want to get things confused with MattPoole's diagnosing effort on his 1999 Rav4.
 

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Matt, I would disconnect the crankshaft position sensor and check that the resistance readings are as I gave above. Make sure the sensor's connector is properly fastened, and that the male and female sides have no bent pins.

Given that a new battery did not fix the problem, and the engine would still not catch, I do not think that the alternator is the problem.

I also still think it is possible that the timing belt jumped, for the reasons discussed above.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
After more tinkering around we found the feul pump is not turning on when the key is turned on. Although as soon as the engine is cranked, it supplies gas.
 

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After more tinkering around we found the feul pump is not turning on when the key is turned on. Although as soon as the engine is cranked, it supplies gas.
Did I read recently that's normal for these 4.1s?

And maybe implies a leaking fuel injector, or other fuel-line leak.

An aside: With any potential starter, alternator, battery, or other electrical problem, be sure to add an extra battery-to-block ground wire. The original wire to the firewall is tiny and prone to corrosion.
 
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