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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone
My name is Amanda
I am in Melbourne
My car is a 91 Pintara Executive (Automatic)
Engine is a CA-20
When I attempt to start it; it sounds like normal but never actually fires/starts
The last few times when out driving and waiting at traffic lights I noticed the car was almost stalling waiting for a green light so I put my foot gently on the accelerator, which stopped it
Now it just won’t go…
Not too technical replies I am only learning (the hard way, lol)

I have had the RACV out the guy said this: (he couldn’t fix it)

No spark (at head)
No trigger action at coil
No power at dist. (assuming distributor)

(Not written up by the man but RACV man thinks the problems are related to an alarm on the car he looked but couldn’t see any alarm at a glance etc)


Other info on car that might help:

The horn was recently disabled; car was beeping by itself in short & long beeps non-stop, there was no-one in car at the time
(This was disabled about a month before it stopped starting/going – maybe longer than a month)

There is an alarm on the car it was discovered when I first got the car in Oct-Nov 03 when I opened the front passenger door (before the drivers door) to put shopping in and after a few seconds the car horn was beeping the lights etc flashing.
I asked the mechanic, he didn’t know about any alarm and it stopped going off 3-6 months later

The same Mechanic services the car regularly
(It would be due for one soon – I get it done approx 2-4 times a year)
Car was bought secondhand from Jim (my mechanic) in Oct 03
He doesn’t know the cars history before I bought it from him it was traded in
Last time it was serviced I had to do either the alternator or the starter motor (I cant recall)

The car had problems with the battery in approx Nov… no charge it kept draining it (No idea how old that battery was)

I put my spare battery in it from my previous car (another Pintara) the RACV man said this battery is 2000 so it is getting old and let me know it may play up next


I have now had a auto electrician :rolleyes: look at the car he says:

(he couldn’t fix it either and I felt I was being misled he didn’t even look for an alarm he went straight to the coil and took it out of the car to test on his own battery)
he charged me $89! to: (taken from reciept)
check power to coils and modules all ok
tested modules not working faulty
tested coils one not working other weak (he verbally told me one worked but wanted to replace both)

then he says that he needs two modules two coils distributor redo (reco/deco? cant read his writing) worn and loose distributor cap and rotor lead set and spark plugs
then engine tune
Can anyone tell me if this sounds right (or normal)
he didnt even test the distributor so why are we having to replace it blind???
(he got funny when I said that to him)

Does anyone know how to find a realistic price on the coil and module (Im a single mum on the pension) I know one of the 2 coils has a hairline crack in the outer casing (the one with a white dot on the back if that means anything)

Thanks Everyone
Amanda (min74)
(I hope I have included enough info..)

2,376 Posts
well...i'm not sure about your problem...but that last mechanic is trying to rip you off, i don't think he tested enough to conclude all that. Although it does sound like the coils could be replaced, but thats not your problem. I think you have some kind of major electrical problem, might source back to the alarm. You need to find a competent mechanic/technician who can check the electrical system for the alarm. I think the alarm has an ignition kill switch that might have been triggered somehow. Good luck, let us know what happens

Biru O' Kudasai
1,426 Posts
From the sound of it you must have an 8 spark plug CA20 because you said it has two coils but we need to see if the distributor has any output from the cam angle sensor inside the distributor housing. I am not sure but you should be able to enter the ECU into a self-diagnostic function but first you need to locate the ECU inside.
Our U12 called the Stanza only was available with the KA24E (2.4L) engine in 91 which was in the Pintara T, Ti, and TRX but the older US models had the CA20E in them so I'll try to help by using those as a reference. Once you locate the ECU
1. Access the ECU and position it for observing the diodes.
2. If the engine does not run, turn the key on and proceed to step #4.
3. Start the engine and warm it to operating temperature then idle.
4. Turn the diagnostic mode selector on the ECU fully clockwise until both diodes flash 3 times then turn the selector fully counterclockwise. The ECCS system is now in mode 3.

CA20 ECU Codes

code: description:
11 engine speed sensor (*)
12 system pass
13 oxygen sensor circuit (open)
14 coolant temperature sensor circuit (voltage low)
15 coolant temperature sensor circuit (voltage high)
21 throttle position sensor circuit (voltage high)
22 throttle position sensor circuit (voltage low)
23 start signal circuit (*)
31 park/neutral switch circuit - auto only (*)
32 air mass sensor circuit (voltage low)
33 air mass sensor circuit (voltage high)
34 hotwire self cleaner (*)
43 vehicle speed sensor circuit
44 oxygen sensor circuit (lean)
45 oxygen sensor circuit (rich)
55 ECU

Note: (*) the ECM lamp will not light for these faults.

Note: these codes are applicable to the Australian U12.

Please let me know what you find and we can do more to diagnose it

My guess is it doesn't quite look like this TRX;

2 Posts
KA24Tech, your post is very thorough and informative. I, too have a U12 with very similar symptoms and your advice seems like it would help a lot. However I do not know where to access the ECU. Is this a mechanics only tool or can it be found on the vehicle?
If I do find/get it, what are the diodes going to tell me - green for good, red for needs replacement?
No you are right, sadly my car does not look like the one in your picture.

Biru O' Kudasai
1,426 Posts
The ECU is located under the front of the console.
The green LED is the tens digit and the red LED is the single digit.


3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
To update you on my car, after replacing the modules and regulators the car is working again

then anyway, lol, since my last post I had to replace the auto trans too, and its still not right :( it doesnt always go into gear (like drive esp..) its been back for adjustments but is still playing up :(

cars are not always fun...
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