Toyota Corolla 1970-1987 Repair Guide

General Information


See Figure 1

A fully electronic transistorized ignition system is used on some later model vehicles covered by this information. Electronic ignition systems offer many advantages over the conventional breaker point ignition system. By eliminating the points maintenance requirements are greatly reduced. An electronic ignition system is capable of producing much higher voltage, which in turn aids in starting, reduces spark plug fouling and provides better emission control.

In 1977, certain Corollas made for California came equipped with electronic ignition. In 1978, Toyota decided to make electronic ignition standard equipment on all models and the same basic system is still used today.

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Fig. Fig. 1: Electronic ignition signal generator components

The system Toyota uses consists of a distributor with a signal generator, an ignition coil and an electronic igniter. The signal generator is used to activate the electronic components of the igniter. It is located in the distributor and consists of three main components; the signal rotor, the pick-up coil and the permanent magnet. The signal rotor (not to be confused with the normal rotor) revolves with the distributor shaft, while the pickup coil and the permanent magnet are stationary. As the signal rotor spins, the teeth on it pass a projection leading from the pickup coil. When this happens, voltage is allowed to flow through the system, firing the spark plugs. There is no physical contact and no electrical arcing, hence no need to replace burnt or worn parts.

Service consists of inspection of the distributor cap, rotor and the ignition wires; replacing them as necessary. In addition, the air gap between the signal rotor and the projection on the pickup coil should be checked periodically.