1993 Camry w/possible frozen gas line


JoyNampm
02-04-2004, 02:44 PM
Hello,

Two weeks ago on Monday, my hubby went out to crank my Camry and though it turned over it did not fire up and start. Since the tank was about on empty he suggested the fuel line had frozen. Up until this week we have been below freezing here in PA.

Well, we've tried dry gas, STP something or other and today he put in a bottle of antifreeze for the gas line and though it turns over it still hasn't started. Could it be anything else? Before then it was running fine. It's my personal opinion that the car has been sitting for so long that its just stalled...could that be it?

Please HELP!

Joy :)

Mike Gerber
02-04-2004, 03:04 PM
JoyNampm,

Excuse me for asking the obvious, but since you said the tank was near empty, are you sure it is not completely empty? If it is, you could try getting a gas can and adding about a gallon to it and then try starting it. If it really is frozen the only thing you can do is wait until the temperature is in the 40's for a while or push or tow it in to a warm garage. Dry gas alone will not thaw a frozen gas line. It's designed to absorb water still in it's liquid state.

Good luck with your problem.

Mike

JoyNampm
02-04-2004, 04:04 PM
Thanks for your reply, Mike.

Yes, it had gas in the tank, though it was below 1/4 a tank. My hubby did dump another fourth in there but still nothing.

So sounds to me what you are saying is it has to warm to a decent temperature for several days for this car to thaw? Well, yesterday it got to around 37 here and today was about the same but beginning Friday we're going to start to get cold again. Wish I was in TX right about now. ;)

Joy :)

Mike Gerber
02-04-2004, 04:35 PM
JoyNampm,

That's correct. If it doesn't start after thawing, than your problem is obviously elsewhere. Mechanics will tell you your car needs 2 basic things to start; fuel and spark. Do you have a way of charging the battery or jumping the car's battery from another car? Your car's battery may be getting pretty weak from all the attempts to start it along with the cold weather.

By the way, it was around 0 here in the Chicago area last night so I wouldn't expect a warmup any time soon.

Mike

Parmenides3
02-06-2004, 10:06 PM
I bought a portable battery pack at the auto parts store, so that I don't need another car for a jump. If it's a jump that you need (because your battery is run down from attempts to start) you might consider getting one of these. If the fuel line is frozen, warmth is the answer... unfortunately, the regular cold-engine solutions do not apply for a fuel line. An electric dipstick won't defrost the right area, and a coolant warmer (a thing you splice into the hose going to your radiator) would be too much of a pain to install in this kind of weather. It wouldn't help, anyway. Do you have a friend with a heated garage?

JoyNampm
02-07-2004, 12:34 PM
Thank you both for your input, its helping.

Yes, I do have friends w/heated garages but they have no room to spare in them.

We are going about eliminating everything BUT the frozen fuel line just to be sure that is what we're dealing with and so far everything points to that. I mean before that night the car ran fine and the starter, fuel tank or ignition gave no indication that something was wrong. Of course, maybe that doesn't mean anything. I dunno.

Today its going to get to about 43 degrees here but then its dropping back down into the 30's and 20's.

I have another question for you guys: if it is in fact a frozen fuel line, once the car thaws, should it start w/no problem?

Joy :)

Parmenides3
02-07-2004, 02:26 PM
Sorry...someone who knows more than me will have to tell you what to expect from a fuel line that thaws.

You know, the more I think about it, an electric dipstick would at least speed up the car's thawing out, and it wouldn't be a bad thing to have around for every winter. It's regular oil dipstick, except it has a plug. You plug it in to an extension chord, and it keeps the oil warm. My family has a few old clunker cars that would never start in the winter if we didn't keep them plugged in, especially at night. Just remember to unplug before you drive off. :rolleyes:

I wonder if there is any way to deliver heat to the frozen spot? I know a lady that thawed a frozen water pipe in her house with a hair-drier. But there are combustible fumes around an engine...

Hope it turns out alright for you. I guess you've probably already established that there is no fuel getting to the cylinders. (To do this, you dry off a spark plug, put it in the car, crank the car a bit, pull the spark plug again, and smell it for gas. I learned this just this week from this forum.)

Parmenides3

Mike Gerber
02-07-2004, 06:39 PM
JoyNampm,

If it is a frozen gas line, the oil dipstick heater would be of no use. When a gas line does freeze, it's usually at a low spot underneath the floor of the car, not necessarily near the engine itself. Once it thaw's out, assuming that is the problem, a can or 2 of the dry gas should take care of the water. To be sure, once it does start, I would throw another can into the tank and fill up with a full tank of gas.

What other things have you and your husband done to come to the conclusion that it is a frozen gas line?

How many miles are there on this vehicle? Does it turn over (crank) strongly? Does it even sputter when you try to start it? There are a lot of things that can go completely dead over night. A fuel pump, a coil inside the distributor, a cracked distributor cap or cracked distributor rotor, or even a broken timing belt come to mind. To check for a defective fuel pump, you can take the cap off the gas tank and turn the key to the run position with out cranking the engine and place your ear by the open gas cap and listen for a whine or slight humming noise. If the noise is present, that will tell you the fuel pump is working. You can check for a broken timing belt by taking the oil cap off the engine and have someone crank the engine over while you or your husband look down the oil cap with a flashlight to see if you can see the cams moving. If the cams are moving, the timing belt is intack. Another indication of a broken timing belt is when the engine seems to crank over too strongly. That's because with a broken timing belt, the camshafts do not rotate and open and close the valves, so you have no compression. With little or no compression the battery turns the engine over faster than normal cranking speed. Have you checked to see if the plugs are getting spark? You can take out a spark plug if you have the proper tools. I recommend a good 3/8 inch socket, a locking 9 inch 3/8 inch drive extension and the proper spark plug socket, usually a 5/8 socket on Toyotas. Place the plug back into it's wire and let it hang down somewhere where you can see it. Then, have someone crank the engine while another person looks for a spark. Do not hold the spark plug itself, while the other person is cranking it over. Also, do not lean on the car's fender while doing this or you could get strong jolt. It is easiest to see the spark in dim light. A safer way to check for spark is to go to an auto parts store and purchase a spark plug checker. This is a little device that goes between the plug wire and the plug itself and will light up while someone cranks over the engine, if spark is present. They cost less than $10.

The more information you give, the easier it is to help determine the problem.

I hope this all helps.

Let us know how things work out.

Mike

Parmenides3
02-07-2004, 07:19 PM
Mike Gerber, Thanks for the good information, esp. how to ID a dead fuel pump. That's kind of info that make this a good forum. Parmenides3

JoyNampm
02-11-2004, 02:24 PM
Well, thanks for all the helpful suggestions but its NOT a frozen gas line but an electrical problem somewhere because spark is not getting to the coil--or SOMETHING. My hubby is now tracking now where the malfunction is.

Any suggestions...anyone?

Joy :)

Mike Gerber
02-12-2004, 04:11 PM
Joy,

Are you saying that there is no spark at the spark plugs or your husband knows for certain that it is a bad coil? How did he varify this fact? Does he have a digital volt ohmeter (DVM)? One would be required to do any further checking of the ignition system. If you do not have access to a DVM the only thing you can do is check for loose conections to the distributor. Does the engine even sputter when you try to start it like it is trying to start?

I may have given you some misinformation previously. I forgot to mention that when checking for spark at the plugs the old fashion way, (taking each plug out of the cylinder head and then putting it back in the plug wire) you have to ground the plug on some bare metal piece of the engine while someone cranks it over. That's another reason that one of these spark plug checking devices that goes between the plug and the plug wire while the plug is still screwed in to the cylinder head and lights up if it is firing is a good idea.

Other quick things he can check for without any special tools if he knows the plugs are not getting spark is to remove the distributor cap (leave the plug wires attached to avoid any mixups) and check for evidence of cracks and therefore arcing of the electrical current on the underside of the cap. 2 screws need to be removed to remove the cap. While the cap is off, also pull the rotor off of the distributor shaft and look for evidence of cracking on both the top and bottom of the rotor. It just pulls off the shaft. I had an old Volkswagon Beetle many years ago where the underside of the rotor was cracked and it would ground itself out on the distributor shaft itself instead of transferring the current to each of the terminals on the bottom of the distributor. It took me a while to figure that simple problem out.

I would also suggest that if your husband is to do further checks with a DVM that you purchase a Haynes or Chilton manual for your year Camry. You may also be able to get one at your local library. Most libraries carry them. The Dewey Decimal code for automotive repair manuals is 629.2.

Let us know what is happening and we may be able to help.

Mike

JoyNampm
02-19-2004, 05:22 PM
Hello, its me again about the ol' Camry.

Mike, what he did was take out the spark, had me to start the car to see if he saw anything fire up, he did not.

When the car is cranked, it kinda sputters as though it wants to start but doesn't.

We ordered the Chilton book for that particular model and it doesn't seem to be helping him. He says when he looks in the book and then goes outdoors to apply it, nothing looks right...you know what I'm saying? I believe he's at his wits end but I'm leery about taking it to a mechanic because fear of being screwed.

I will have him read your previous response and see if that makes any sense to him. All I know is something's gotta give. I NEED MY CAR BACK!

Joy :)

Mike Gerber
02-19-2004, 09:25 PM
Joy,

First, I got your email but it was just a quote of my last post. There was no additional information there. I tried to email you back but your return email address didn't work and the one through the forum doesn't work either.

In any case, make sure your husband had ground the spark plug on some bare metal part of the engine block when he had you crank it over. The fact that you say it sputters or tries to start, usually means that it is getting some spark to some of the plugs. When he pulled out the plug was the tip of it covered with wet gas? If so they might now be all fouled with gas. He could take them all out and try to dry them off and then reinstall them and try to start it again. If he feels he is not getting any spark, one old trick is to take a plant mister or simple spray bottle and spray the wires and the distributor cap area with water. Then you have someone crank over the engine while the other person looks for sparks. If it is an external electrical (ignition) problem, this may give you an indication of what and where the problem is. It will tell you if you have a bad spark plug wire or wires or an external crack in the distributor cap. This is easiest to see at night or in a dark garage.

If you want to email me back with a working email address, I can email you my home and cell phone numbers to see if I can offer any more help talking to you or your husband directly. I just don't feel comfortable putting it out on the internet.

Mike

BMW_4.4i
02-22-2004, 09:13 PM
Hey Mike! You are providing some awesome infomation here. Just by reading this thead, i have really learned a lot. Thanks and keep up the great work! That is what makes this forum (automotiveforums.com) so great.

BMW_4.4i
02-22-2004, 09:14 PM
Hey Mike! You are providing some awesome infomation here. Just by reading this thead, i have really learned a lot. Thanks and keep up the great work! That is what makes this forum (automotiveforums.com) so great. :thumbsup:

BMW_4.4i
02-22-2004, 09:15 PM
Now why the hell did it post 2 times? That weird.

JoyNampm
02-23-2004, 09:47 AM
Morning Mike,

My hubby looked at the car on Saturday and now thinks it could be the ignitor, however, when he called a Toyota dealership looking for a ignitor (because he hasn't been able to find a rebuilt one) he was informed that ignitors rarely give out. Which would explain the reason he wasn't able to find a used one.

Though I'm nobody's mechanic, I'm still not convinced the problems isn't a "fuel issue." Or maybe the distributor...

My hubby plans to give you a call today for some needed assistance.

Joy :)

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