A Possible Fuel System Problem?

I have a 94 Tercel that’s runny poorly. I’m not great with cars, but it feels like its a fuel problem. I live on a hill, and its been being real hesitant going up the hill, especially from a stop, hesitating and almost jerking back and front and you gotta down shift to make it up. It’s really lost almost all its push. On the highway, it’ll do it (hesitate) if your going fast, but the highway driving has just been getting progressively worse and at lower speeds. I can’t get much past 60 and it still seems like the gas line is getting pinched for a second, every ten or twenty seconds. It also seems like I’m getting poorer gas mileage as well. I thought my problem was the fuel filter and was going to have it replaced, but after looking online it seems like it might be the fuel pump. Does anyone have a good idea of what it would be?

There’s no particular way that a fuel problem “feels.” You have three basic “ingredients” - fuel, spark, air. (There’s also compression, but we’ll put that aside for now).

The place to start is always with the basics - spark plugs and wires, fuel and air filters. Have they been replaced according to schedule? How old are these things?

The air filter still looks clean and I put new plugs in a few months ago. I thought it was the fuel filter but because of the high speed hesitation I was suspecting the pump

A clogged fuel filter will keep the pump from being able to deliver the fuel under load. IF the fuel filter is anywhere near need of replacement then just replace it. But ignition can also break down under load. How about the plug wires?

Do you have a check engine light?

The easy way to find out about fuel is to put a fuel pressure gauge on it.

Another thing that will cause problems under load is a clogged exhaust.

[i]  I put new plugs in a few months ago.[/i]  Good, but how long ago were the plug wires replaced?  If those are original 1994 wires, you are lucky your car runs at all.

The check engine light is on. I can’t have it easily tested though, since its a 94. It came on a little while after the problem started I think.
I’m not sure about the spark plug wires.
The car seems to have a lot of smoke coming out the exhaust, but it burns a lot of oil. Smells like what I think is burning oil

“The car seems to have a lot of smoke coming out the exhaust, but it burns a lot of oil. Smells like what I think is burning oil”

Well I said set aside compression. Now I’ll say have the compression checked. The other thing that will produce smoke is running too rich - pull the vacuum line from your fuel pressure regulator and check for liquid fuel. There shouldn’t be any.

Burning too much oil and/or fuel for a long time is the kind of thing that can clog up the catalytic converter (create exhaust blockage).

Here is a link that will tell you how to pull the error codes without a code reader: http://autorepair.about.com/library/faqs/bl-750h.htm I’d actually do that before much of anything else.

A lot of times the trouble you are having is due to either bad plug wires or a fuel delivery problem ie; fuel filter or fuel pump issue. Just as a hunch I think you are correct about the trouble being with the fuel pump. Especially due to the age of the vehicle. If changing the fuel filter doesn’t help then I think replacing the the pump will fix the trouble. Replacing the plug wires may fix the trouble also but even if that isn’t the trouble new ones should help you get some better mileage so there should be a benefit in doing that even if they aren’t the trouble. You may want to try changing the wires first since that is easier than replacing the fuel pump. I suggest you use Nippondenso replacement parts.

Changing the PCV valve may help with the exhaust smoke problem.