CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

91 Camry Sitting for 5 Years

I have a 91 Camry that my mother let sit for 5 years. I replaced the fuel filter and fuel pump and cleaned the tank (with water, bad onh my part, but I did get the water out). Now it starts easy enough, but runs for 2 to 20 seconds slowly idleing down till it dies. It will do this over and over again. Open to any thoughts…

You’ve taken care of the old gas in the tank, but what about the downstream parts of the fuel system? They are all contaminated, too.

How is the air intake system? Cars sitting for long periods often become nesting areas for rodents, and the air filter and associated ductwork seems to be a favorite spot for nest building.

I replaced the air filter, but will check the tunnel past that. The fuel filter was frozen to the line so bad the line bolt stripped and I ended up replacing the whole fuel line (the filter is up by the engine), there is only about 9 inches of hosed line left ot the engine, which I will check too.

Also if it helps, I dont thing the exhaust is blocked as the muffler disintegrated (button had rusted) on some of the 20 second runs. If the exhaust was blocked it should have been unaffected I assume.

I have to ask, how much are you willing to spend to put this car back on the road? We’re talking exhaust parts now, and we haven’t gotten to the brakes yet. This could be expensive.

Timing belt? Tires? Hoses? This car could need a lot.

What are your plans for this car, and how many miles on it now?

Removed the air filter hose and it was clean to the engine and clean to the inlet by the grill, so air flow is good. Also checked fuel flow to the filter, and its flowing. This car only starts the pump when you hit the starter, not turn the key on, but fuel sprays when I crank the engine.

Can you keep the engine running by holding the throttle open? If this problem is only the low idle, clean the throttle body with special emphasis on the Idle Air Control passages and valve.

Hope that is it.

Just tried it, giving it any gas forces an immediate stall, which I would assume is significant…

The odds of a catalytic converter being blocked are far greater than the same happening to a muffler.

If an exhaust restriction is a possibility you could try either unbolting the header pipe for a test run or connect a vacuum gauge to an intake manifold vacuum port to see if the vacuum gauge will show a blockage.
The gauge will also tell you right off the bat if you’re dealing with a vacuum leak; a large one.

Have you measured the fuel pressure? Will the engine start and run longer on a shot of starting fluid? Is there any sign of flooding?

Does this car have the V6 or the I4? Does it have a Manifold Absoluter Pressure sensor or a Mass Air Flow sensor? If the former, check the vacuum line to the intake. If the later perform the appropriate cleaning procedure.

Get back to us with answers and progress.

Stuff a rag loosely into the exhaust pipe and start the car. If the rag gets blown out of the pipe, the exhaust system isn’t blocked. My guess is that the rag will just sit there and you will probably need to replace one or more exhaust system components.

BTW, don’t worry about cleaning the gas tank with water. There is always a little water in the tank due to condensation. Water is slightly soluble in gasoline anyway, so small amounts of water from condensation, leakage when filling during bad weather, etc don’t accumulate and don’t normally cause trouble.

This turned out to be a bad replacement fuel pump, replaced it again and all was good. That part is running fine now. Thanks for everyones help.

That is great, but now you need to replace the timing belt.
Otherwise, all of your effort so far will be for naught.