Engine mysteriously stalled when driving

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Jun 3, 2014
I have a 1987 LC, desmogged, Jim C. rebuilt distributor, and a Mark's offroad carb., with an otherwise stock drivetrain. I was driving down the road in 4th gear and the Cruiser just stopped responding. The charge light in the dash came on, no vacuum to the brakes, and no response when I pressed the gas pedal. The engine had obviously stalled, so I shifted down to third, popped the clutch and it restarted, and was running just fine. I pulled into a parking lot, took a look, didn't notice any loose wires, etc. I turned the Cruiser off and on a couple of times, and everything seemed fine. It's been running fine since.

If it makes any difference, I was driving at night with the lights on, and I replaced the voltage regulator (with OEM) a couple of months ago. Voltage reads around 12 (via the gauge), with all the lights, and AC on. Otherwise, it reads 14ish. Alternator is a Denso rebuild and I have no idea how old it is. I haven't replaced it and I've had the truck for about eight years. Battery is about two years old.

Any thoughts on what may have happened? I'm going to guess electrical, but I'm not sure where to start. I thought I might speed up the diagnosis by asking folks here. Thanks!
Yeah my guess is it was something electrical too - but if you can’t replicate the problem consistently, there’s no way to pinpoint the culprit.
Running out of fuel (fuel pump, fuel filter, intermittent carburetor blockage) more often than not manifests as a stumbling and sputtering when throttled up, not a sudden engine cutoff.

You probably saw the red charge light when the engine died because that light comes on when the key is in the ON position but engine not running. That’s normal.

If I had a gun to my head and had to guess what caused the cutoff when driving on the highway, I’d have to say ignition. And if pressed, with tears in my eyes, I’d guess faulty coil and most suspiciously- - - the igniter.
The ignition igniter which is clamped on top of the coil, historically has been an extremely reliable component… but occasionally they do fail. Ask @g-man. And when they do, the symptoms are exactly the same as you described - sudden engine cutoff.
I don’t know if sudden pop-back-to-life is part of the equation too, but the igniter is definitely a suspect.

Unfortunately the Toyota igniter for the 2F is no longer available, but there’s a workaround using American made parts that work. G-man knows
sounds just like an intermittently bad fusible link
Check your fuel cut off solenoid ground. Looks like you have had some carb work done.
the ignitor is a solid state circuitry//transistor. Mine failed about an hour into a freeway drive. It wasn't coming back to life by itself. But maybe if you hit a pothole you could have a loose ground wire or an internally broken/semi broken wire in the ignition system. Check over your ignition system.. pull the coil wire and ohm test it while you bend and flex it different ways to make sure it's not weak internally. Make sure your grounding points on the coil are clean and tight. Check the signal wire from the dizzy back to the coil. Ohm test the coil and the ignitor. There are instructions on testing the ignition system in section 8 of the 1980 2f engine FSM.

I wouldn't suspect the charging system ie alternator or the voltage regulator unless the volt meter was reading low, high or erratic. Vaccuum loss is going to happen without the motor running, the charge light will come on w/out the motor running so those were normal.

What makes a motor run? air/fuel/spark/compression and timing. Take any of these away and not going to run. BUT...spark is most likely to have a slightly intermittant problem.
Thanks! All the responses are helpful and gives me a place to at least start from.
Can you clarify—was your clutch pedal depressed (clutch not engaged) when the engine stalled? I had something like this happen recently and I found my ICS/FCS plug disconnected. One of the tabs that hold the plug sides together is broken and it worked its way loose.

Otherwise, with my clutch engaged my engine would miss when I let off the gas but the engine never stalled…until I disengaged the clutch.

If your engine actually stalled with the transmission in gear and clutch engaged then I would suspect something ignition electrical related.
The clutch was engaged and truck was in gear and underway. Was a bit spooky when it happened. I originally thought that I had bumped the ignition key and accidentally shut it down, but no, that wasn't the case.
My first thought was the fuel cut solenoid. Really could be any number of electrical issues. That solenoid is easy enough to test and rule out. Simple to replace if need be.
I remember a customers car that intermittantly would die and eventually figured it out… he had a pretty large wad of keys on the key ring that under the right circumstances would move the key enough to turn off the ignition. When he would drop the car at the dealer he would take the key off the ring…. He stopped by one day and claimed it was doing it and would a tech go with him for a test drive around the neighborhood. That’s when it got solved.

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