Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Camry woes

Hi all, I am having some trouble with my 1991 Toyota Camry (2.0L 4-cylinder with 206,000 miles) and hope that someone can help. Here are the symptoms I am experiencing:

1. After a few days of not driving the car, I try to crank it up and it sounds like it is really loud when firing (I liken it to a diesel engine sound). When it does this, it doesn’t burn the fuel right and I get gas-laden smoke coming out of my tailpipe. Both times it has happened, it has turned over and been fine after it runs for a couple minutes.

2. Another issue is that it will occasionally just cut off on me when I step on the gas while pulling out of my work parking lot. I would drive to work (45-60 min), park it for 8 hours, then get back in and start it up. Everything is fine up to this point. As I am driving through the parking lot to where I turn onto the road, I slow down for the stop sign (but never fully stop), see that no one is coming and step on the gas. As soon as I step on it, it completely cuts off. No sputtering or anything. I then put it back in park and it starts back up. Very annoying.

3. Don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but I do have a small oil leak coming from somewhere in the engine. I think it is from the oil pan though so I probably just need a new gasket.

The only work I have done on it recently was to change the valve cover gasket.

Someone please help!!

Thanks in advance,


The plugs might be due for a change. If they are, use NGK or ND.

First ask yourself if all the maintenance is up to date.  Have the plugs wires air and fuel filters all been changed in recent history?
  1. When the engine is shut off, there is still fuel pressure in the fuel line to the fuel injectors. One, or more, fuel injectors leak (shouldn’t, of course) fuel into the intake manifold until the fuel pressure reaches zero. This leaked fuel puddles in the intake manifold. As the engine cranks, and runs, the puddled fuel is sucked into the cylinders; but, doesn’t burn completely because there isn’t enough oxygen, in the mixture, for complete combustion. I think the diesel sound is some of the excess fuel burning in the exhaust manifold (which may be “tuned” to amplify the sound).
    Take your car for a pressure cleaning of the fuel injectors. The service costs about $75; but, it could solve the problem.
  2. When you step on the gas, the throttle position sensor (tps) tells the engine computer (how else would it know?). The engine computer orders more fuel injection. If the tps is mum (“my lips are sealed!”), the engine doesn’t know and the additional fuel isn’t commanded, and the engine stumbles, and, perhaps, stalls.
    You can use the repair manual to check the ohms and volts of the tps response. The procedure is in the manual.
  3. Not pertinent to these problems. Oil pan gasket change? OK.

Thanks a lot hellokit! This has been very helpful. I took it into a shop to see what they said and they are thinking that the fuel injectors may be leaking too. Of course when I started it up to take it this morning, it ran fine… but I digress. I plan on checking my wires and a couple sensors tomorrow to see if something is haywire there. If not, I am going to let them keep it over the weekend and hopefully it will do what it did to me. Thanks all.