Car stalling mystery--fuel pump?

I have a 91 Toyota Camry (4 cyl). Starting about four weeks ago (around the time I started doing a lot of stop-and-go rush-hour driving, which I wasn’t doing before), I noticed that after I put the car in drive (it turns over just fine), and started to pull away, the car hesitates, bucks a bit, then almost stalls (I have to lay on the gas to get it to go). Then, the other day, the car stalled completely. I was able to restart it after putting it in drive.

Now, I should clarify (and this is where it gets weird): It does NOT do this when I first leave the house in the morning. It only does it after I’ve driven four blocks, and parked it for 30-45 minutes while I’m at the dog park. (I only seem to have this issue every time I try to leave the dog park). If I leave the house and head straight to work, without stopping, I don’t have these problems.

I took it in to a mechanic last week, who told me that he couldn’t get it to stall, and that he thought it was a loose, corroded battery. I thought he was full of it, and, lo and behold, the car nearly stalled on me again yesterday, proving that he’s full of it. But now I have no idea what’s wrong. I have a few votes for the fuel pump, but the mechanic insisted that that wasn’t it…any other suggestions??? And does anyone have a recommendation of a good mechanic in Honolulu???

Any Red Lights On?

Have any “Check Engine” lights ever come on before, during, or after this bucking and stalling? How many miles on it? Have you kept up with maintenance?

Yup, I have another suggestion. But first, how long has it been since you gave it a thorough tuneup? I had a '91 Camry 4-banger and when they get old they need to be kept well tuned. Excess horsepower was not their selling point.

The other possibility is a bad coil. The coils on these are known to get flaky when hot with advanced age. The coil is located in the distributor, and while it can take some effort to change it, it can be done. It would be a good idea to scope it, perhaps while heating it up with a heat gun, to confirm this before proceeding.

There may be a intake manifold leak causing this or possibly something wrong in the vacuum system. Change the fuel filter if that hasn’t been done.

No Check Engine light, 85K miles, and yes, I’ve been good about maintenance, though it’s been a few months since my last tuneup.

Have the throttle body cleaned with emphasis on the idle air control passage. See if the engine speed flares as you shift from park throught reverse to neutral. That is a quick test to see if the Idle Air Control valve is responsive.

Hope this helps.