Automotive Archive

During our move to the new house, about three years ago, I managed to misplace the set of spring clips that hold the drawers in my old Craftsman toolchest.  I was disgusted by the thought of paying $4 each for replacements, as it would quickly exceed the value of the chest at two per drawer.  It was nice to run across this forum link and see that Waterloo manufactures a suitable replacement for less than half the cost.  I’ll be calling them when I get an opportunity.

I’m still going to be upset with myself when I find the plastic bag with the ten originals.

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1989 Toyota Camry repairs

Posted July 27, 2013 By Landis V

It’s been nearly a year now since I parked my 1989 Toyota Camry because the power steering pump was leaking profusely, to the point where I was uncomfortable with the mess it made whenever I parked it.  I finally got tired of throwing away a hundred dollars a month driving my Suburban and found the time and motivation to shove it into the garage a few weeks ago and have been working on diagnosis and repairs in my spare time since then.  This post is a combination of documentation and reference for myself, and a collection of information that may perhaps prove helpful to someone else (or serve as a reminder for me) on future repairs down the road.

I’ve been told that one of the more common failure models with the power steering on these models of Camry is for the high pressure hose to deteriorate to the point of failure, essentially becoming porous.  I had performed some investigation last year prior to parking the vehicle, and as best I could tell given the limited visibility position of the pump and hoses and the volume of fluid leakage, the problem didn’t appear to be a hose failure, but within the pump itself.

I’m fortunate to have a Toyota expert in the family who does a lot of work on these cars who provided me with some helpful suggestions and parts.  The initial challenge was to get everything cleared out so I could get to the pump for removal, which was no small feat itself.  Autozone has a pretty good document on removal and installation of the power steering pump, which I referenced several times.  I did have difficulty accessing the top 14mm bolt and ended up supporting the engine with a bottle jack and wood block under the oil pan and removing the motor mount on the passenger side so I could gain access with a socket and universal/wobble joint.  As well, I had some difficulty with the pressure hose attachment on the pump which I had pre-fastened to the replacement pump prior to installation, but which I found to be loose after I got things in place.  I addressed this with a socket, universal joint, and extension coming down through from the rear of the engine, but have not yet had a chance to see how it has held up.

Before putting everything back together in its final configuration, I wanted to do a test run and make sure I had cured the leak.  At that point I discovered I had further problems with lack of fuel to the cylinders and/or lack of spark.  I pulled a spark wire off and held it near ground while attempting to crank the engine and didn’t hear a spark.  Further testing included:

  • Jumping TE1 and E1 to check diagnostic codes, which only indicated codes for air flow sensors (that were disconnected at that time)

    Diagnostic module jumper pin locations.

  • Jumping FP and E1 to confirm that the fuel pump ran with the keyswitch in the “on” position.  The picture at right was from this page at, which also has a handy table that describes each one of the diagnostic pins positions and their function.
  • A brief shot of carb cleaner in the air intake followed by a test crank, just as a final confirmation that I wasn’t getting spark.
  • Testing fuses.  Touched the topside of the fuse leg on both legs of the fuses with a test light clamped to ground.  If the light lit on both pins, the fuse is good.  Beats the crap out of pulling the fuse and looking at it.

At this point, I received the suggestion, advice, and parts to replace the distributor assembly.  Unfortunately my no spark condition appears to have persisted following replacement of the distributor.  I was somewhat surprised, as the original had an apparently characteristic oil-soaked coil, and I could see where oil had been dripping down out of the distributor onto some of the heater hoses and other coolant-carrying hoses below it.

My next steps are to start performing some voltage tests and see what I can come up with at different points in the system.  I fear I may have sustained some damage to the ECU in my previous attempts to jump start the car with the old, very dead battery.

Update 7/28:

I went out to work on the car yesterday afternoon and hooked up the air intake sensor just for the hell of it and gave it one more crank, and got a couple if definite spark/fires. After some waiting and additional cranking and a few sputtering seconds of runtime, I got it started up with a long burst of white smoke.  Why I couldn’t get it started before, unless of course the airflow sensors were holding it down, I can’t say for sure.  but it’s now reassembled and I’m looking forward to having it back as my daily driver.

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1989 Toyota Camry Error Codes

Posted July 21, 2013 By Landis V

This works for other Toyotas as well, but I was specifically looking for it for a Camry with a 2.0.  I think it’s correct for that model, but won’t guarantee it.  Shows the sharktooth patterns that indicate code numbers and details their meanings.  I’ll try to save/upload a copy of the PDF as well in case it ever disappears from the above location.

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National Motor Vehicle Title Information System

Posted September 20, 2012 By Landis V

My final related post in a group of used auto purchasing posts – the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System provides you some good baseline information about the title history of a car, at a lower pricepoint (granted with less information than) Carfax or the other auto info site I can’t think of offhand.  You don’t get names, but you do get the sales history and odometer readings, as well as information on the title such as whether it is salvage, total loss, flood, etc.  NMVTIS has the details of what is included in the report, and you have the option to select from several different vendors starting as low as $2 (I was pleased with my report from at this price point).

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Posted September 20, 2012 By Landis V

Along the same lines as my last link, a site you can use to help you verify that a used car you’re investigating isn’t stolen or a total loss.  Quick and easy, just enter the VIN, accept the terms, and type in your Captcha code.

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Decode This – Free VIN Decoder

Posted September 20, 2012 By Landis V

This is a handy link to have if you’re buying a used car.  It’s surprising the level of information you can determine about a vehicle given just the VIN.  Then you can do your basic research on components with much more specificity.

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Plug Pinouts for Trailer Light Connections

Posted August 29, 2012 By Landis V

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