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96 Camry intermittent starting problem-low idle-power level change

Gee–as I look through the previous posts, I see the problem is not uncommon, but strangely, no one goes back to the discussions to offer what specifically fixed their problem! So, here is the same question again:

- '96 Camry LE auto at 72,000 mi (driven in warm climate)

- intermittent starting–first thing am or after driving and being parked for hour or so

- ignition/cranks, then idles low and almost (or does) stall out (almost as if it’s not getting enough gas)

- low idle (almost stalling) when stopped in traffic

- drops and bursts of power

- Today for second time, car would not start up at all with ignition (it’ll be my second tow to the shop)

- been ongoing for 6 months

- been in shop 4 times

- not battery, distributor, ignition, and whatever else was checked; no codes have come up on scans

- I have a partially disabled after-market alarm system, just passive ignition lock function (which is malfunctioning intermittently) (I saw a comment on another forum suggesting that could be the problem…)

- last suggestion from my mechanic: replace ICS (part approx $400)

There is a very complicated procedure your mechanic should try: use an MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor spray cleaner; and, a Throttle Body Cleaner to clean the throttle bore, throttle plate, and iac (idle air control) valve.
The next very complicated procedure would be to measure the voltages and ohms of the sensors–such as the MAF, IAC valve. Using the digital multimeter, and repair manual, these checks CAN be done. Your Wallet will, “Thank you”.

PS: I’m kidding about the “very complicated” part, and, any “very difficult” implied procedure. 'Tain’t.

Thanks Kit. I omitted this from conditions above: the first time car towed to shop, there was no ignition/turn over–just dead when key turned to ON position in ignition.

If the after-market anti-theft system is wired to cut the ignition (spark), it could be your problem. The ignition switch could, also, be your problem. It’s much cheaper to change that than the ICS (Ignition Control S?), first.,3870235/vehicleId,2145802/initialAction,partProductDetail/store,1140/partType,00189/shopping/partProductDetail.htm

No, that is an Idle Control Sys. Also, I omitted from conditions as stated: heavy vibration with low idling (maybe that’s a given?). The guys at the shop did check the ignition system though…I think they checked into the solenoid also. Twice they wrote no service ticket because they weren’t sure they’d got it, and I don’t remember well what they said.

The part may be the Idle-up Control Valve (ICA) or the Idle Air Control Valve (IAC). The internal cleaning, I spoke of, is for the throttle body and includes the IAC. A thorough cleaning can restore engine performance; though, that’s not a guaranty-----but, what is?
This shows how the IAC valve is checked out:
The A/C Idle-up Control raises the idle rpm when the A/C is being operated in your warm climate:
There are shops which won’t do cleanings because it’s not a 100% sure fix, and they make a profit from selling parts----even, if those parts don’t fix the problem.
The internal cleaning isn’t a “glamorous fix”, and it’s low-tech; but, if it works, who cares?

I mis-stated the answer to your question above, it the idle control sensor (not system) that my mechanic recommended replacing.

Kit, I just heard from my mechanic who told me to hold the gas pedal down while turning the key in the ignition, and hold until it idles normally, which did work…until the next time. So something still does need to be fixed.

If no one does any of the simple things, such as I spoke of (they really are simple), where does one start? Throwing expensive parts at it? Any novice mechanic can do the simple things. If the basic parts of the engine, air intake, and fuel aren’t taken care of, one is shooting oneself in the foot (or, one’s “mechanic” is shooting you in the foot.).

Yes, I understand. Mechanic is back to work tomorrow. I’ll go in & ask what all he looked at/did in the time not charged/no service ticket written and then go over anything he didn’t that you and others have stated–including removing the anti-theft sys wiring. All this before an expensive part.