How to Troubleshoot the Ignition System in a Toyota Corolla

Written by ehow cars editor
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Toyota Corollas have been made with carburetorless ignition systems for more than 10 years. So there is very little you can do to service one without being an expert. Check the battery first before you try to troubleshoot your Corolla's ignition system. You might find out the problem isn't with the system itself.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Calibrated ignition tester
  • OBD-II scan tool
  • 16mm spark plug wrench

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Instructions

    Basics

  1. 1

    Make sure the battery cable clamps are tight and clean where they connect to your Corolla's battery. Test the battery's condition and replace it if it doesn't pass.

  2. 2

    Check the ignition system's wiring and connections and the fuses related to the system. Replace all parts that are worn or burned.

  3. 3

    Use an OBD-II scan tool to check the system, making sure your tool is for your year Corolla. Connect the tool to the Data Link Connector under the driver dash. Look for a code to appear indicating an ignition system problem.

    Spark Test 1

  1. 1

    Connect a calibrated ignition tester to a bolt or metal bracket on the engine. Remove an ignition coil and connect the tester to the spark plug boot. Reconnect the coil to the electrical connector and clip the tester to a good ground.

  2. 2

    Crank up the Corolla's engine. Look at the end of the tester. The ignition system is working properly if a bright blue, well-defined spark appears.

  3. 3

    Disconnect the coil from the electrical connector if a weak or no spark occurs. Check the terminals for damage along with the battery voltage to the coils.

    Spark Test 2

  1. 1

    Remove the Corolla's ignition coils. Then remove the spark plugs with a 16mm spark plug wrench.

  2. 2

    Install each spark plug into an ignition coil (with an igniter). Connect the ignition coil connectors. Disconnect the four injector connectors and ground the spark plugs.

  3. 3

    Start the engine and look for sparks occurring at each spark plug. Don't crank the engine for more than 2 seconds.

Tips and warnings

  • The main engine compartment fuse box is near the left strut tower. The interior fuse box is underneath the instrument panel to the left of the steering column.
  • The following scan tool codes are standard for ignition system related problems: "P0355" and "P1335" are for crankshaft position sensor problems, "P0340-P0341" are camshaft position sensor problems, "P0351-P0354" mean ignition coil trouble, and "P1300," "P1305," "P1310" and "P1315" mean ignition system malfunctions.
  • You can only check a Corolla's ignition coils by substituting a good coil, because Toyota doesn't publish the resistance specifications. Keep in mind that you can't return electrical parts after purchase.

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