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1998 camry shakes and cuts off

My son’s 1998 shook and cut off at a red light today. I am taking it to be fixed and do not want to be taken for a ride financially. Does anyone have any idea what it could be, so I can show up at the repair shop professing some knowledge?


It shook and shut off…OK…WHAT happened next? A little more info please… Impossible to assist with this info.

My son was getting off the highway and came to a stoplight. His car was running well on the highway. At the light, after he exited the highway, the car started shaking, the lights on the dashboard came on, and the car cut off. He was able to start it again and drive home. He has a long drive on the highway in order to get to work, so I want to have the car checked out before he goes on the highway again.

The car stalled. This can happen for a really large number of reasons. So you’re just going to have to take it in and see what is said about it. If you’re given diagnosis/repair estimates etc. you can then post that. But you need to post it with as much info as you have about the car.

How many miles are on it? When is the last time it got new spark plugs? Fuel & air filters?

Is the check engine light on? If so there are error codes that need to be pulled from the computer. Get the exact error codes (format: P1234)

When it goes to the shop ask for details on exactly what was checked out and how. (E.g. was fuel pressure checked? vacuum leaks? brake booster for leaks?)

Don’t be surprised if you’re told that they don’t know. If it just stalled once, restarted and then he went on his way there isn’t much a shop can do to figure out why it stalled. They can only guess. Don’t be surprised if they suggest basic tune up things like spark plugs & wires, filters, etc. If those things are due you should just have them done. They are maintenance items. If those things are not due then it very well might be a waste of money. Do not pay ridiculous prices for things like fuel system or induction cleanings.

On a regular basis, how does the car run at idle? Is it rough? Surging? etc.

Here are a few things off the top of my head that can result in a stall at idle:

  • poor/inconsistent ignition system performance (e.g. spark plugs)
  • sticking/inconsistent idle air control valve (IAC)
  • brake booster leak. This would be directly related to putting the brakes on and would open up a big vacuum leak for the engine.
  • EGR valve sticking open
  • torque converter clutch failing to release (transmission issue)

A fuel delivery problem (such as a weak pump / clogged filter) should show up at highway speeds is it bothered the idle.

Thank you for the detailed response. I will have the car checked out tomorrow and post further.