2001 Toyota Corolla hesitation mystery

In january I took my 2001 Toyota corolla to the mechanic (that had replaced the engine 5 years ago) because it was using oil and gas mileage was very poor. He gave the car and tune up and right afterward I noticed the car hesitated for just a second within the first mile of driving. After the hesitation it had full power.

Then the check engine light came on with a code for O2 sensor; I had that part replaced about 2-3 years ago. So that was replaced. The next day I was driving on the highway when I heard a pop and lights came on everywhere. The car ran, but when I stopped, it was smoking and wouldn’t start. AAA towed it and said the water pump broke and took the serpentine belt with it, and I had it repaired there.

Car continued to to the “hesitation” thing, but I learned to live with it, until 4 weeks later it lost power and wouldn’t go more than 5 miles an hour. Very dangerous! Also the check engine light came on - O2 sensor again. The original mechanic towed it back to his shop, has had it over a month. Say sometimes it runs fine and sometimes it really hesitates. My son took the plugs out and said they didn’t look new and replaced them with best quality new plugs (mechanic said the plugs looked worn due to problems reported).

He’s been a mechanic his whole career and still can’t find out the problem. He checked the MAF and said it’s fine. I can’t afford to put more money into it, but it’s worth nothing but junk value now after putting over $1000 into it. I didn’t have these issues before I took it to him in January. He has a good reputation, but I don’t know what gives.

Is this all a coincidence that it happened at once? What could have happened?

Too many variables in this equation for me to even make a guess at whats goin on. I would start by finding a mechanic who is…well…more like me. Some places wont even look at problems like this and or they will charge you for every little thing. You sortof need a friend mechanic for this one…Someone who will try to find the issue just for the sake of trying to find the problem.

I would ask to borrow your car for a few days… Then I would be able to nail down what the issue is. It will just take some time to figure out…and with someone charging you for every little thing…it wont be possible to afford.

I would start by making sure all electrical connections are in place and good…and then its just simple troubleshooting from there really…


The car ran, but when I stopped, it was smoking and wouldn't start.

How long (time, miles) did the car run after water pump broke?

Why did the engine need to be replaced 5 years ago? Has all of the scheduled maintenance suggested by Toyota been done on schedule for this replacement engine. If some has been deferred, what? Do you know the source of the replacement engine? Was it a used engine from another car that had been wrecked and totaled? A factory rebuilt engine?

Edit: When someone mentions their car won’t go over 5 mph, my first suspects are that the computer has flagged a serious problem in the engine or transmission and put it into some kind of “safe mode”, or the exhaust system is clogged, usually that would be the cat. Since you report your car has been using oil, that’s definitely a possible cause for the sluggish problem.