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2000 Toyota Echo, engine and brakes

I’ll get straight to it. The check engine light is on. The car has barely enough power to get moving at low RPM, and once it does there seems to be a bit less power than normal (it’s not as blazing fast as usual). Also, the exhaust smells pretty bad when all this is occurring.

Second, the car shakes under braking. At low speeds it feels like there is a bump in the brakes that hits at a regular interval, so I don’t know if something is jammed in there or what.

Some background: car has had regular oil changes every 3,000 miles. I just recently had the exhaust repaired, they replaced a leak caused by some faulty screws. The power problem was not happening before this, and started about 3 months later. The last time a similar problem occurred it was a bad oxygen sensor.

The car has brand new tires - the braking thing was happening well before that.

Anyway, let me know if there’s anything I should be looking for. Thanks!


How many miles on the car? Have you done any other maintenance since you bought it? When a car has no power it usually means it is not getting enough gas or the exhaust is plugged.

Since we don’t know how you have treated the car in the past, or how many miles are on it, I would hazard to guess a partially plugged catalytic converter and/or exhaust pipe. You also need to check if the air filter is not covered with dirt.

The Toyota Echo is one of the world’s most reliable and trouble-free cars, provided it is maintained according to the owner’s manual. It takes more than regular oil changes to keep a car running efficiently.

You need a competent engine mechanic (not necessarily the dealer) to analyze the problem; if the spark plugs have never been changed, that might be part of the problem as well. The exhaust smelling bad indicates the engine is not getting proper combustion.

I can’t begin to guess what might be wrong with your brakes, if, indeed, it is the brakes.

Thanks a ton for the reply. I’ll respond to the questions as best I can.

How many miles on the car?

Have you done any other maintenance since you bought it?
Replaced the timing belt and spark plugs at 80,000 miles. Did some routine maintenance on it at 120,000 miles.

The air filter looks okay.

The car has been driven mostly on the highway for long distances (400 miles) after which it sits until the next drive. Nowadays it really just sits outside as I walk, bike, or bus everywhere in the city. When it is driven I take it pretty easy since I don’t like spending money on gas. I keep the revs as low as I can, normally.

The car has had all of the required maintenance. The problems might stem from the environment it is subjected to. Often when I drive it is in very cold weather (Minnesota) and usually on non/semi-plowed roads. It is always kept outside.

Anyway, thanks for the reply. I appreciate it.

Thanks for the info. Another problem could be a weak or failing fuel pump or partially plugged fuel filter.

Your car is operating in a SEVERE environment. But since the problem occurred after the exhaust was worked on the mechanic should also test the converter and see if the exhaust is free flowing. Sometimes a baffle collapses in the muffler, restricting the flow.

If I were you, I would get a complete checkout by a competent mechanic, fix whatever is ailing, and install a block heater for the engine, so you can plug it in for a few hours before using the car. There is also no harm in adding some “gasline antifreeze” with every tankful.

Good luck!