View Full Version : '91 Celica GTS won't start...help

03-02-2005, 11:11 PM
My girlfriend has a '91 Celica GT with ~160k miles and it has had a lot of problems since she got it. Recently it sprung a pretty healthy oil leak and now it won't start. I couldn't figure out where the oil leak was coming from, but it has always leaked oil into the combustion chamber. Cylinder number 1 seems to have the biggest leak, when I pull the spark plug out it is always covered in oil. Originally I thought the valve cover gasket and the plug gasket thingys were bad so I replaced them along with spark plugs and plug wires, this was the first time it wouldn't start.

Everything worked okay for a couple of months. Over thanksgiving break my father and I replaced the clutch. After that the car starting running rough and was down on power. The car stopped starting again so I took it to a shop to have it looked at. The place I took it too said the valve cover gasket and etc. was bad and it needed to be replaced. Blah blah blah, I did it again exactly according to a repair manual also replacing the plugs and plug wires again along with the rotor and cap.
This was over x-mas break. The car ran okay (low power) for about a month and then it sprung the bad oil leak and now won't start.

I checked the plugs again, 1 was oil covered, the others were ~okay. The plug wires look shot because of extended contact with oil.

My question is if the problem is in the head like valve seals or if it is a problem with the cylinder rings and low compression? I am guessing the reason the car won't start is because of oil in the combustion chambers and possibly no spark because the wires are bad. I don't want to spend the money on new wires if they are going to crap out in a couple of weeks/days. I don't know if the oil leak is related to the oil in the cylinders but I am guessing they are all related to the main problem, a crapped out engine.

I am just looking for some ideas on what the problem might be and any advice you guys may have. Thanks a lot for reading my long post.

03-03-2005, 12:58 AM
I am a tech and you need to check the compression but if you are getting oil in the combustion chamber there a head problem your best bet have it rebuilt also you might as well rebuild the bottom end as well since your oil rings may be bad so you might as well do an engine overhaul or a least a head over haul

03-03-2005, 02:48 AM
and if your gonna go though that whole mess u can

A: buy a new or used motor with low miles

B: buy a late 3rd gen celica with indistructible 22re

C: overhaul/ rebuild

03-03-2005, 03:16 AM
When you pull the wire out is there a puddle of oil?
Or is the oil on the tip of the plug only?
If so, it's fresh oil?

Worn rings shouldn't cover the plug in oil.
Neither should worn valve seals.
Both will give you, in a worse case senario, smoke.
Have you checked the nuts on each plug hole? Are they still tight?

*The 5SFE doesn't have a middle gasket, does it? I can't remember.
I wonder if there's a crack in the spark plug tube?*

03-03-2005, 03:24 AM
B: buy a late 3rd gen celica with indistructible 22re

'Til the timing guides break.. :hehe:
I think the only ones were the 85s. [with a RE]

03-03-2005, 04:03 AM
so what are the possible ways for the oil to get in? Valve seals, piston rings and cracked spark plug tube??

I know it was burning oil when she first bought it but not too bad, used about 1 qt between oil changes. I figured that was just a symptom of the high mileage. When I pull the wires they are usually wet with oil. Not necessarily 'soaked' but pretty wet. I think they get damaged and stop working after prolonged contact with oil. The gasket/seals that go under the nuts that hold the valve cover on have been replaced twice along with the valve cover gasket. Like I said before everytime I have pulled the spark plug from cylinder 1 it has been covered in oil. If I remember correctly the oil looked pretty fresh, at least not completely black. I change the oil every 2-2.5k.

I am not sure if the oil leak is related or not but before the car stopped working it was pretty serious. It would drip every few seconds when the engine was running. I wasn't able to determine where it was coming from. It wasn't coming from the oil pan gasket, oil filter, head gasket, valve cover gasket or the front main seal. (i think) The leak is coming from the passenger side of the engine, the oil was dripping from there at least.

I am pretty confident in my mechanical abilities, I did change the clutch and do all the other work on it, so if a rebuild is necessary i think I can do it. I have never rebuilt an engine or a head. My biggest problem is I don't have a garage to work in and the car is stranded in my gf's apartment complex parking lot.

If I was to swap a running engine in which ones are a complete swap?? I know some of the later models have a pcv valve on the valve cover while my gf's car does not. other than that I don't know much about the differences between 5sfe's. Which ones are a direct swap, Celica, Camry, MR2??

Thanks for all the help, hopefully I can get the car running again, I am tired of my gf driving my 240. :thumbsdow

03-07-2005, 01:29 AM
I think it's pretty simple, its either that the piston's rings needs to be changed and are leaking oils on the sides to the combustion chamber, or the most probable cause: Headgasket needs to be replaced and maybe the head needs to be planed (this is fairly cheap operation at a shop, it costed 40$ canadian where my friend made planed his 1.8T engine's head. Good thing to do because the head is in aluminium most of the time, and may warped a little bit, so even if you place another headgasket, it may leak oil again !

Note: A defective oil gasket could also leak oils outside of the engine, and you told earlier that you were seeing leaking oil ... so your best bet is to replace the head gasket (NOT the valve gasket, which was already replaced). And maybe replace the piston's rings at the same time so you will have an almost brand new engine hehe.

Oh and removeing the head is not that hard I believe, maybe 4 hours or so with normal set of tools. Don't forget to clean and sand a little bit the head and the block with ~300 sandpaper before placing the new headgasket.

Hope it helps.


03-07-2005, 03:06 AM
If you rebuild it, have the head resurfaced. Always. It's aliminum.
You can always swap valve covers. And whatever else you need. For instance if you get a engine from a MR2 it'll have some different stuff on it. The main stuff [engine block/head/intake and exhaust manifold] are all the same. Or close enough to make no difference.
And most of the year differences [like from 92 up has a knock sensor] won't matter. You can transfer all the stuff from yours to the new engine to make it the same.

03-07-2005, 10:37 AM
Your honest to god best solution is rip that poor abused and obviously not properly broken in when it was bought motor and replace it with a good condition (preferably) low mileage JDM 3S motor or even a USDM 3S or 5S motor whatever you wanna go with.. stock or slightly better 3S.. Reasons being are

1. Cheap
2. Easy
3. No regrets.

Just make sure you have ALL possible information about the motor.. the more info they have on the motor the more they will charge.. like if they have service records and shit like that but usually junk yards get whole cars in.. that have been smashed anywhere but in the front.. and they just have mileage info on the vehicle and that the motor cranks/has good compression.

03-08-2005, 01:55 AM
well the spark plug tubes are probably leaking...you can remove the 4 metal spark plug tubes, clean them and then put teflon tape on them and put them back in, ive had to do this to many 5s-fe's in my day. to get them out use a big pair of channel locks...