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Phoenix Starborn

Intermittent Start then Failed Starting at All 5S-FE 1993 ST184 Cleica 2.2lt

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Hi, Thought i would upload a recent issue i had with my 1993 ST184 Celica, 5S-FE Engine, 2.2lt.

I bought this vehicle second hand 18 months ago (Aug 2014), very good condition and only 160000km on it.

After buying it, i wanted to fix up some minor things on the vehicle, so i put a new clutch in (the old one was right near end of life), i replaced some Sensors, Air-con regas, rear liftback struts, relays, egr module, and odd and bobs.

I put a new distributor in , with new leads, plugs etc, and serviced the vehicle.

I seemed to always have a bit of an issue with rough idle, and it also does not have the power and pick up that my last ST184 had. Hoping my booked in Full service/throttle body clean, EGR clean/replace might get her running smooth again, and responsive , as some times it lags and then kicks in with correct power.

Anyway, the main reason for this post was because i ran into a problem recently over the last 5 weeks or so (Early 2016)...that honestly defeated me for the first time, and had to have it taken to a mechanic.


  • Rough Idle (pretty sure due to major service it needs)
  • Intermittent Starting (sometimes it would start fine sometimes after a few goes also, once or twice i sprayed ether fluid in the intake and that also worked a few time.s)
  • Car cranked fine, battery is pretty new...just would not go at all in the end
  • Eventually one morning , i got in the car to go to work, and no start at all.


  • This had me stumped, i had limited tooling etc for Diagnoisis
  • Checked for loose wires, one day i would have spark, in the end i had none.
  • Fuel Pump works.
  • Relays are Good
  • Distributor was near new, leads and plugs also
  • I was leaning toward Ingniter (Ignition Module) OR the ECU itself (after advice from an experienced mechanic)
  • I promptly secured a used Igniter and ECU
  • Independently swapped these out, in both combinations (one at a time with currently installed units, then both parts together...all resulting in stil NO Start)
  • Due to my Job taking up so much time, and i live remotely from much help, i ended up having it towed to a workshop.
  • Long story short, the ignition system, ECU, Distributor, Igniter, Fuel delivery, Ignition Switch.........ALL were just fine!!
  • What it turned out to be, was the two Plugs that plug onto the Distributor were "BAD"  on the inside, they looked ok from a visual inpsection, the wires weren't loose or coming out.
  • So $34 worth of plugs, splice into wiring harness, and away she goes again like normal.


  • If you have limited diagnostic tooling, or spare components to swap out for fault finding.
  • Highly recommend really checking your electrical connectors and wiring for chaffing, loose, broken wires....and in my case (not sure i would have found it after hours of frustration) check your connectors. Especially in my case where i ended up with no spark at all, even though it was mostly ok for 5 weeks aside for intermittent starting, in the end it just died. All it was , were the two plugs that go onto the sides of the Dizzy. I think one is the Crank Angle Sensor (or similar - as it's inside the Dizzy & the other is the Coil Plug)

So i sure hope this helps someone out, as my car was off road for 11 days, while i was trying to figure this out, spent $360 on parts i did not need, when all it was were two electrical plugs worth $34


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Throwing parts at it is always a way to spend money you don't need to...FAST.

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