I have a 2005 Corolla (4-1794; 1.8L engine) that is well and truly freaking me out. In September (about 4 months ago) I was making a left turn off of a stop sign when the RPMs completely cut off and the power steering quit - no warning lights and the radio, A/C, lights, display all stayed lit - it just stopped driving. I turned it off and turned it back on and it started up immediately with no problem. Made it home, but the next morning it struggled to start, and cut out several times while driving to the mechanic. The mechanic ran diagnostics, cleaned a bunch of crud out of the compression system to restore to factory settings, replaced the spark plugs, cleaned the fuel system, and got it back up and running.
It hasn’t shut off while running again (nor do I think it’s having trouble starting), but the engine seems to be “blipping.” When I’m driving, the tachometer will suddenly drop (usually from just under 2k rpm to just above 1k) and then come back up very quickly. I can feel the car sort of…rock, a bit, but it’s very quick. It never happens while I’m actually accelerating or going up hill, only while I’m maintaining speed on a flat stretch – usually at about 35mph – and especially while I’m attempting to maintain speed going downhill. In a 20 minute drive to work, it maybe does this 5 - 10 times. The RPMs never surge up unexpectedly - only drop and then come back up to the original level.
I’m not sure if it matters, but this is a really low mileage vehicle for its age - only about 68k on it. The vast majority of its driving has been done at city street speeds and it doesn’t get much highway driving - above 55mph - at all.
I never thought of myself as a nervous driver, but this problem is really freaking me out. My stomach knots up every time I take the car out, at this point. I want to take it to the dealership or a mechanic, but I don’t want to just turn them loose with this vague of a problem because I’m really tight on funds. Does anyone have any suggestions about what the issue might be? Am I going to die a horrible, fiery death if I don’t get it taken care of right away?