Almost every morning (especially when it’s cold) I go to start the car and I have to hold the accelerator at around 2000 rpm for a few minutes until the engine “catches” and runs on its own. If I don’t do this, the car will just die. It also has a very low idle (around 450-500), is that normal for this car? What can I do to fix these problems?
Start by taking the vehicle to a good mechanic. Have the codes read to check for possible problems and then have them check the fuel pressure and the fuel filter. This is not normal so something is wrong somewhere.
The problem might be with the Idle Air Control valve. This component is mounted on the throttle body and as its name implies it contols the engine idle speed anytime the accelerator is released.
One thing to try is to have the IAC valve removed and with a throttle body cleaner, clean the IAC valve and the idle air bleed port on the throttle body. If doing this shows no improvement with the idle, then the IAC valve may require replacement.
No, an idle of 450-500rpm is not normal for most cars. Assuming that your 1998 is pretty much the same car as our 1999 four cylinder Camry, the idle when warm should be around 700 rpm. I can’t remember whether the cold idle is higher, but it’s certainly not lower.
A decent mechanic will know what to check. If you are going to check things yourself, things to check include fuel pressure, whether all cylinders are firing, disconnected vacuum hoses, idle air control, and a stuck open EGR valve.
All great suggestions, thanks!