1998 Toyota Camry Engine kicking issue

I got a 1998 Toyota Camry with 2.2L 4 cylinders and have almost 210K miles on it.

Starting about 2 months ago, I was experiencing some minor engine kicking when it was either idling or accelerating, not really such a big deal. About a month ago, I took it to my mechanic shop and he told me that I need to clean up the throttle body. I took his advice, let him did the work and the car still doing the same thing. I did a lot of research on the internet and many people suggested replacing the spark plugs and after I replace the plugs (Bosch, not something cheap), the situation got even worse. The engine starts kicking more frequently and violently and the “Check Engine” light came on (and flashing). I took my car to a local auto parts store and have their people get the error code for me, it was something about engine misfire and they told me I should have my mechanic to take a look.
I took the car back to my mechanic, 2 days later when I called him for update, he told me the cause of the problem was the spark plug cables didn’t plugged in securely. But just before I drove off the mechanic’s parking lot, the engine did it again. I didn’t go back to ask my mechanic because I truly believe he did not want to spend any more time on my car.

Here are the current conditions of my car,
• It never fail to start when the engine is cold or warm
• When I stopped at traffic light, the engine ran smoothly, after about 10 to 20 seconds of idling, it starts kicking. It will do this no matter if my gear in in P, R, N or D.
• When the car is completely stop and then I press the accelerator, the engine will act like it’s going to choke and if I keep holding the accelerator, 2 to 5 seconds later it will rev up and going
• I will be even worse if I have my AC on.
• It runs smoothly if it on the highway
• It always acting up if I try to make a 90 degree right turn and never happens on a left turn
• The “Check Engine” light did come up again but went away 2 days later.
• I made a hard brake yesterday and it took the car about 15 seconds to be able to rev up the engine again.

Please help…

Bosch plugs can be a problem. Try Denso or NGK platinum or iridium.

Check fuel pressure. Sounds like a bad fuel pump. It would have been better if you got the codes read when the check engine light came on. A parts store will read it for free.

+1 to insightful’s post.
Experience has taught me to only use NGK or Denso in Toyotas. Nothing else.

You also want to “read” the plugs when they’re removed, to find out the condition of the cylinders. If one of the plugs is wet with oil, you might have an oil leak in the O-ring at the bottom of the plug tube, and that could be affecting the connection of the spark plug cable (actually, the end of the COP assembly) to the plug. Look carefully into the end of the COP assemblies with a flashlight to see if one looks contaminated. I’ve attached a link to the setup for your reference.

If you do have a wetted plug, you’ll need to replace the O-ring at the bottom of the sparkplug tube. That’ll come with the valvecover gasket kit, and I’d suggest doing the valvecover gasket too. In the second link you’ll be able to see the gasket kit along with other good information.

This leakage is very common in Camry engines of this age. However, understand that it’s a partially-educated guess on my part. But it’s definitely something to check.



If the condition got WORSE after you changed the Spark Plugs…The issue is being caused by Worn out Spark Plug Wires. Nobody ever replaces the wires and they usually just slowly go bad and cause issues JUST LIKE THIS. If I were you I would replace the wires FIRST and see what you get. I would also like to see the Distributor Cap and Rotor replaced as well. However to find out what the culprit was do these one at a time. My money is on the WIRES…Replace them and I bet you solve your issue. Even I have to admit I am one who replaces the wires almost LAST…Not sure why this is, but Ive experienced MANY MANY sets of bad or worn out wires and the problems they cause can drive you nuts due to the intermittent way they seem to act up.

Replace the wires…if the issue is resolved great…But still replace the cap and rotor. But I am certain the issue resides between the wires and the cap n rotor. Let us know what happens when the wires are changed…I bet the issue is resolved.


"Bosch plugs can be a problem. Try Denso or NGK platinum or iridium."

If the OP checks the specs in his/her Owner’s Manual, I can virtually guarantee that Toyota lists only Denso and NGK plugs as being recommended.

Over the past few years, we have had a number of posts from people who experienced problems after installing Bosch spark plugs, particularly the “fancy” ones with more than one electrode.

I would advise using only the specified Denso/NGK plugs, and–as Honda Blackbird recommended–also replacing the plug wires.

I must correct an error I made. I referred to this as a COP system… it is not. It uses coil packs and wires.

Oh Thats right…i believe it does have Coil Pack and wires… Even BETTER… Now its down to the wires.

Change the wires and then tell us how nice it runs.


Actually, it has a twin set of coil packs each of which feeds two plugs.
Yeah, I’m definitely in support of new wires.

It runs smoothly if it on the highway
It always acting up if I try to make a 90 degree right turn and never happens on a left turn
The “Check Engine” light did come up again but went away 2 days later.
I made a hard brake yesterday and it took the car about 15 seconds to be able to rev up the engine again.

I dunno, this sounds pretty weird for just plugs/wires.

I dunno, this sounds pretty weird for just plugs/wires.

Heh, heh, good point. OK, how about a bad engine to frame ground?

I wonder if the car has more than one problem. Considering the high miles my preference would have been to run a compression test while the plugs were out. Low compression can cause plug misfires which in turn can kill plug wires which in turn can kill coils…

The stumbling at idle could be an Idle Air Control valve problem or vacuum leak.

The balking on hard braking or a right turn could be a fuel delivery problem. I think the pump is offset to the right side on this model and if there is not as much fuel in the tank as the gauge shows that could lead to fuel slosh away from the pump pickup; made worse by a clogged strainer and/or fuel filter.

As to Bosch plugs, I’ve never had a problem with them in the application they’re designed for. My preference for Asian cars would be NGKs though.
I am curious about what type of Bosch plugs were used. Some of the more trick 3 and 4 electrode plugs can be problematic if installed in an engine they were not designed for. The more is better logic does not always work well.

Will someone please explain what " engine kicking " means.

I interpret it to mean “bucking”. My interpretation is heavily influenced by the “misfiring” codes.

Hmm…I must have missed that line. While I still want new wires on that vehicle…the turning added into the equation points to the fuel pump in the tank. I hate trying to diagnose problems via the internet

When the vehicle is in front of you…I can go thru about 5-6 tests in a few moments…Sometimes I have repaired vehicles from Sound or Smell!!! So not having the car near me…is a SEVERE Handicap for diagnosis.


My impressions are this some combo of the wrong plug for the application and/or a fuel mixture problem.

For plugs, I always use the NGK part number recommended in the owners manual in my Corolla and never had a problem in 20+ years. Suggest OP first try that.

Reading out all the diagnostic codes would show if there is a lean/rich problem flagged by the ECU, but maybe not if it only occurs briefly. If the later, b/c of the relationship to turning, makes me think the OP had a bad tank of gas at some point and debris is clogging the inlet screen to the fuel pump. A fuel pressure test would show this, although to nail it down, it might be necessary for the tech to conduct this test while driving.