1994 Toyota Celica loses power, but starts up again OK

Oil check, battery, check engine lights come on–power lost–glide to a stop. Put into park (auto transmission), start again, ok. For about 10 days. Always freeway off ramp, stop/go traffic. Help? Ideas?

Not much to go on but I’d guess a fuel system problem. Can you drive the car until the tank is nearly empty with no problems? If not, the fuel pump and pickup need to come out as the pickup likely has come loose.

If you can drive the car to empty, then it is not fuel starvation. Things get tougher to find. Look for worn engine mounts causing a wire short with forward movement of the engine in the engine bay.

Good Luck, could be tough to find.

Do you mean the engine stalls? RPMs go to zero, all dash lights come on?

When it starts again, after stalling, does it start right up as if nothing happened? No extra long cranking period needed, right? If so, I’d lean towards an electrical system problem. I think you are losing ignition (spark) and the engine just stalls out, which causes all the dash light to turn on. Good idea to check all the fluid levels anyway of course, especially engine oil, transmission fluid, and coolant levels (in the radiator, not the overflow bottle).

Once you’ve confirmed a no-spark is the problem, possibilities are

  • ignition module
  • distributor
  • crank or cam position sensors
  • ignition switch
  • battery or battery connections
  • faulty fuse

It’s normal for all the warning lights to illuminate when the engine stalls. I’d suggest not using the warning lights as an indication of where the problem lies.

As already mentioned, it could be loss of fuel or loss of ignition. On a car this age, either is possible. Actually, on a car this age anything is possible.

Because it shuts down suddenly while driving, my guess would be loss of ignition, but it’s only a guess.

Because it only happens on highway off ramps, it’s also possible that you have a vacuum leak that’s causing the problem. It could be in the brake booster and be killing the engine when the cylinder vacuum spikes on deceleration and/or the brake pedal is applied.

Understand that I’m only offering an additional possibility here. There’s insufficient information at this point to offer anything specific. If there are any other symptoms, they’d definitely help. If not, you gotta start somewhere.