I own a 2001 Chevrolet Prizm with ~150,000 miles. It has the three speed automatic transmission. It generally runs very well, but occasionally when pulling away from a stop it will hesitate for 2-5 seconds. I’ll push the gas, but it will basically just creep forward slowly, as if I’d only taken my foot off the brake. If I keep my foot on the gas for a few seconds it will start to accelerate, although it seems to surge a little bit (although this could be because I probably end up pushing the gas harder than I normally would, hoping that it will go).
This problem was happening very intermittently, although its been happening more lately. Its been going on over the past year or so, but it would only happen maybe a few times a month. Over the past month, though its been happening more and more. Probably every other day for the past month. However, it doesn’t happen at every stop. For example, if I leave for work (about a 15 min drive on city streets) it will usually make it through a few traffic lights before it happens. Then after 5-10 minutes driving I might pull up to a stoplight and it will hesitate pulling away. It might make it the rest of the way to work without incident, or it might do this at 1-2 more stoplights. On longer trips the car seems fine; it runs well on the highway and behaves normally otherwise.
Some maintenance history:
-bought the car 5 years ago with 110k miles; it had just had a rebuilt engine installed
-about 3 years ago I had the catalytic converter and O2 sensors replaced (got a check engine code)
-about 2 years ago I had the in-tank fuel pump replaced
-about 10 months ago I replaced the mass airflow sensor (the car was stalling on start-up and the check engine light was on - this fixed the stalling problem, but not the intermittent hesitation problem)
-I have not had any transmission service done, but the car shifts smoothly. I checked the fluid and the levels seem fine and it doesn’t smell burnt
I have a couple questions:
- are there any simple checks that come to mind that I could do at home? I have some basic tools and am fairly good mechanically, but don’t have any diagnostic tools
- is this worth bringing to a mechanic? I’m worried that he won’t be able to replicate the problem. Are there tests he can/should run to figure this out even if he can’t observe the problem?
Any advice is much appreciated!