'82 Celica Supra dies "randomly"

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  1. #1

    '82 Celica Supra dies "randomly"

    Hey guys. I've been a long time lurker, but I'm new to posting here. I'm having problems with my '82 Celica Supra P-Type dying randomly while driving.












    It only had 42,000 miles on it when I bought it (has almost 50k on it now). Despite the low mileage, it still has its fair share of problems that I have been trying to work out over the last two years.

    Pretty much all of the problems I have had with it have been electrical issues. I am the third owner. The second owner bought it to be his son's college car, so I can imagine a college kid hacking at the wiring trying to be cheap by not taking it to a mechanic, despite not knowing what he was doing.

    When I got it the wiring was a train wreck. There was basically a huge rat's nest of wiring under the fuse box, which wasn't even bolted down, it was just sitting loosely behind the battery. The battery itself was of course also just dropped into the engine compartment, nary a bracket in sight.

    The flip-up headlights never worked: Only one would come up, and when you turned them off, only the other one would go down. I unhooked the headlight relay, and just leave them up for now. There are also random wires which have been cut from under the fuse box, their purpose unknown to me. Basically, this car is an electrical disaster.

    This brings me to the problem I am having today:

    The car turns over strong and fires up just fine, but after driving for an indeterminate amount of time, it will just shut off. After shutting off in such a manner, the car will still turn over strong (indicating the charging system still works) but will not start.

    I've tried unplugging and re-connecting the air mass sensor, TPS, and even randomly rustling wires around the fuse box, to no avail.

    After several minutes of waiting, the car will always fire up again (as if it never happened) and run for several more minutes only to shut off again. The last time it did this, I just parked it without trying to fix it. But after a couple hours, the car still fired up again despite leaving the car exactly as it was when it died.

    I can think of so many potential causes of this problem, that I'm overwhelmed as to what it could be. I suspect possibly fuel pump, ignitor, coil, ECU, air mass sensor, etc. I have a spare air mass sensor, so I'm going to go try that. The problem is that I cannot consistently reproduce the problem other than by driving around and getting stuck somewhere, so it will be difficult for me to test: 32:

    It doesn't even necessarily shut off at consistent intervals. Last weekend I drove it 1.5 hours to Forth Worth from Dallas, and it shut off just as I arrived into town. I let it sit there as I ate lunch, and then it drove fine for the remainder of the weekend and the whole trip home. Then the next week it drove without issue for two commutes to work and back (45 minutes each way), but died again as I was almost home the third day. Then last night it drove for like 10 minutes before dying. After several minutes of waiting, it started up again for only like 3 minutes. Then after a couple hours, I was able to get it all the way back home.

    If there is some obvious solution I am missing, please chime in. I would really appreciate the help. I've been trolling the forums for anybody with a similar issue, but I'm coming up with nothing so far.

    Regards,
    Phillip.
    Last edited by Phillip Bromley; 10-29-2016 at 09:13 PM. Reason: Added pictures

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  3. #2
    CelicaSupra.com Member '82supra's Avatar
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    I think you called it...symptomatic of an ignitor on its way out. Do you have a spare to test?
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  4. #3
    CelicaSupra.com Member Road Ripper's Avatar
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    I'm thinking the same, igniter that dies when it gets hot. You can test for spark after it dies by pulling off the coil wire at the distributor and placing near metal, crank it over and watch for spark. The igniter has a transistor in it that fails when it gets too hot. There is a heat-transferring grease inside the unit that helps pass the heat from the transistor to the aluminum case, using it as a heat sink. When the grease dries up, it gets hot and causes the issues you are having until it fails completely and never restarts. Then you have no other option than to get the car towed and start to track down another 82-only igniter. Yes, that's right, it's a one year only specific part just like the distributor and AFM (what you call a mass air sensor).

    You might get lucky if you stop driving the car now, remove the igniter and take the metal cover off, remove the electrical box inside and reapply some more special heat-transferring grease where the original stuff was. It's the same kind of grease computers use on the heat sinks of their processors, so you could probably find some through a computer parts/repair store. Might be a lot cheaper than replacing the igniter, which is getting rare. You may still want to buy a spare igniter later to keep in the car.

    Since these igniters are prone to failure from underhood heat soak, I've wondered if it would be more reliable to remote-mount the unit behind the grille or anyplace on the radiator support outside of the engine bay. Then just use a standard can-type ignition coil in the stock location.
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  6. #4
    I've read much about the rarity of MKII ignitors in general, and the '82 ignitor specifically. I have some thermal compound, so I'll try disassembling the ignitor and reapplying some thermal compound and see if that helps.

    When the car kept dying, I was suspicious of the ignitor, so I felt it to see if it was hot. It would only ever get very slightly warm. Could that be indicative of the failing thermal grease keeping the heat from sinking to the housing properly? We're about to find out.

    Around a year ago I had decided to attempt pre-emptively dealing with the ignitor issue. I purchase a Crane Cams XR3000 ignition system:

    www.jegs.com/p/Crane-Cams/Crane-Cams-XR3000-Points-to-Electronic-Ignition-Systems/2853255/10002/-1

    It is advertised as being primarily for converting points ignitions, but I bought it based on assurances from the vendor that it would indeed work on my car.

    It uses a setup where you put a trigger wheel and an optical sensor in your distributor cap, and that's what tells the coil to fire. See here for the installation instructions, to get an idea of what I'm talking about:

    www.cranecams.com/uploads/instructions/9000-0700_.pdf

    It seems simple enough to install, but I'm apprehensive about trying it simply because I don't know how the ECU may react to such a device being installed (or if it even matters). I'm sure I can handle all the mechanical installation, but I'm unsure about hooking it up on the electrical side, as I am inexperienced in that regard. It also requires re-timing the engine, which is something I've never done before. I'm not against trying it, but I'd like a second opinion before I attempt something like this.

    Would it work? Would it not work? Would it not work and also blow up my engine?

    I'll try fixing the stock ignitor first, but I'd like some thoughts on the XR3000 idea. If it can be made to work, that'd be tremendous for MKII owners everywhere, since new XR3000s are only like $150 or less.
    Last edited by Phillip Bromley; 10-29-2016 at 09:17 PM. Reason: Added links

  7. #5
    I got the ignitor disassembled. Here's the inside:



    There appears to be some sort of sealant betwixt the round thingamajigs and the steel plate they are screwed onto. Is this what needs to be replaced with thermal paste? Or is it rather between that steel plate and the circuit board underneath? Both?

    I included the inside of the housing in the picture, as I don't see any interface whereby the housing is a heat sink for the ignitor itself.

    I've been taking lots of pictures of the process, so that if this works I can do a full write up for everybody else to benefit.
    Last edited by Phillip Bromley; 10-29-2016 at 11:43 PM.

  8. #6
    CelicaSupra.com Member '82supra's Avatar
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    Good you're following up on Ripper's advice, I've also tossed around the idea of installing a ceramic cooling plate:

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  9. #7
    CelicaSupra.com Member
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    (2S)D626, which is the complete part number for the T03 case high voltage ignition coil driver transistor is available on eGay for $10.50 shipped. I haven't identified the other device but it's likely a protection diode. If your ignitor is well grounded and doesn't spark, likely this driver is toast, literally. Under each of these devices is a delicate mica insulating sheet with very thin coatings of Wakefield thermal compound on both sides of it. Be careful as the new one may or may not be furnished with one but it's an absolute requirement. Be careful if you have computer heat sink compound with silver, etc in it as it's conducive. Soldering skill will be required.
    You might get lucky and applying heat sink compound will "fix" your problem. But once it's started shutting down from over temp, death is imminent. $10.50 is a shitload cheaper than any other solution. I'm sure the whole community would like to know if it fixes your problem.
    Thanks for posting a pic of the interior so I could track down at least this much info for you.
    I've also heard of 82 AFM's being subject to heat soak but the symptoms aren't usually what your have. You could also have a bad distributor pickup, ignition switch, a crappy electrical connection or device somewhere or other problems though.
    Your headlight issue could very well be crappy connections as well or bad motors.

  10. #8
    I went ahead and ordered two of the driver transistors. Here's the ebay listing for anybody interested in trying this:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/110943803485

    I haven't had luck locating the other component either. Please let me know if you come up with anything. I'm more than willing to be a guinea pig on this one, since my ignitor is already pretty much toast. If it saves me from having to hook up a Megasquirt I'm game to try it. Not that I don't want a MS ECU, but I'm not exactly able to afford it right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by ray85p
    If your ignitor is well grounded and doesn't spark, likely this driver is toast, literally. Under each of these devices is a delicate mica insulating sheet with very thin coatings of Wakefield thermal compound on both sides of it. Be careful as the new one may or may not be furnished with one but it's an absolute requirement. Be careful if you have computer heat sink compound with silver, etc in it as it's conducive. Soldering skill will be required.
    Are you saying the mica sheet is required? Would non-conductive thermal paste alone be a sufficient substitute? I would think that the Mica sheet wouldn't be very thermally conductive and thus nullify the effects of any thermal paste applied to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by ray85p
    I've also heard of 82 AFM's being subject to heat soak but the symptoms aren't usually what your have. You could also have a bad distributor pickup, ignition switch, a crappy electrical connection or device somewhere or other problems though.
    Your headlight issue could very well be crappy connections as well or bad motors.
    I've pretty much ruled out the AFM, as I installed another one before I pulled off the ignitor, and it didn't help.

    I haven't messed with the distributor or ignition switch yet. That hadn't occurred to me, to be honest. But I don't think it's the ignition switch because after the car dies, it will turn over right away.

    If it's a crappy electrical connection, then I'm screwed because every electrical connection on this car is crappy. It would take forever to to track down the one causing my problem; the car is an electrical nightmare.

  11. #9
    CelicaSupra.com Member drjim's Avatar
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    You need the mica sheet to insulate the device from the heatsink. "Nonconductive" thermal paste (actually, almost all of it is electrically non-conducting) won't work because the surface roughness of the device and the plate it mounts to will puncture through any film in there and cause a short.

    You can buy thermally conducting, electrically isolating mounting pads for TO-3 cased devices. We used to call them "Sil-Pds", but I think that was a manufacturers name.

    These are what you want to buy
    if you don't want to use the grease.

    Personally, I've used them with the grease, but I don't know if it helps any.....

    The "D626" device appears to be in a "TO-66" package, NOT a TO-3, and the insulating pads are available here.

    Edit to the Edits

    OK, I just looked up the data for the 2SD626, and it is in a TO-3 case. I took a SWAG that the other device, the EXT180, was in a TO-3 package, and that would have made the physically smaller D626 be in a TO-66 case.

    Now this is where it gets confusing......

    A TO-3 is the largest commonly available package of that "form factor" for semiconductor devices. I don't recall ever seeing a larger package than a TO-3 in that form factor.

    SO.....that means either the D626 device is the 2SD626 in a TO-66 (possible), the EXT180 is in a similarly shaped but larger package than a TO-3 (unlikely), or the D626 is NOT a 2SD626, but an entirely different device in a TO-66 package.

    Normally, companies will have "house numbers" marked on a device rather than their correct JEDEC device numbers. For example, a commonly available 2N3904 transistor might be marked "TR516XD" or something equally misleading.

    If you flip the module over, and you tell how many pins come from each ot those two devices?
    Last edited by drjim; 10-30-2016 at 07:18 PM.
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  12. #10
    I'm a CNC machinist, but my Etalon dial calipers are at work. Bear with me as I ashamedly take these measurements with the $.99 no-name plastic vernier calipers I keep at home (all dimensions are in inches):



    I'm leaning towards the small one being a TO-3, but I have never ever seen a transistor like this before I opened this thing up, so I'm not sure. Here's a drawing for a TO-66, I don't think that's what it is. I wouldn't even know where to begin as far as finding out what the larger one is. I hope that helps though.

    Two pins come from the smaller device, and six from the larger one:



    As far as the insulating pads, I see the silicone ones you recommended, but I also see ceramic pads such as these ones. Would they be better than the silicone ones? I'm new to this, so I have no idea what's best. I'm not afraid of applying thermal paste, so if a ceramic/paste combo is better than a silicone pad I'm all for it. Maybe I'm just over-thinking this.

    I've also stumbled across some specially designed TO-3 heat sinks. Is something like that worth pursuing? They'd have to be trimmed down a little because the two transistors on that board are mounted so close together, but I'd have no problem buying them if you think it's worth the trouble.

    I think we're getting somewhere guys, the main thing is that we need to track down a source for that EXT180 device. Thanks everybody for all the help and excellent advice.

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