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Car stalls at higher RPMs yet idles fine

I have a '92 Toyota Paseo. I drove it to school this morning and it was fine. But when I left I came across a problem. Once it gets above 2000 RPM (or so, it varies with which gear I’m in) the RPMs drop sharply as the car tries to stall. It idles just fine as far as I can tell, or at least as well as it always has. I’m thinking water somewhere it shouldn’t be because it has snowed here and today was the first I’d driven it since the snow. Advice?

You might want to have the fuel pump tested to determine if it’s within specs.

If the fuel pump isn’t delivering the proper pressure/volume of fuel to the injectors, the engine will idle all day long. But once a load is imposed on the engine, the engine will tend to lay down, or stall.


My money is also on the pump, but if you are feeling really lucky you could try replacing the fuel filter. But save up for that fuel pump.

If you find that the fuel filter needs changing, you lucked out. You didn’t say how many miles. After changing the fuel filter,you can check the fuel output under the hood. If that checks out o.k., throw in a bottle of ‘dry gas’ to get rid of any moisture in the fuel. Water in the fuel will freeze–most times right in the filter. That might be the whole problem right there. Water in your fuel. If it starts and runs well in warmer weather, that would be my guess. Some filling stations don’t pump the water out of their tanks in a timely fashion so you end up with water in your fuel, especially when the in-ground fuel tank is close to empty.

The fuel pump, as others are suggesting, is a good idea. But many years ago I owned a motorcycle that suddenly had the same problem. It ran fine until about 2500 or so rpm, then it would try to die. Just like something was being cut off. I immediately pulled over to the side of the street and started looking. Then I lifted the seat to check things, since this was where the air intake was. And lo and behold, I had brought a paperback book I was reading with me, and I stuck it under the seat so it wouldn’t fall out of my pocket. It had moved around and was blocking the intake enough so that the engine could not get enough air at higher rpms. Make the easy check, check your aircleaner and air intake system for blockages.

although the other suggestions of air filter, fuel filter and finally fuel pump are EXCELLENT suggestions, have you tried to duplicate this while standing still, just revving up the engine?

if this was fuel/ air dependent then it would happen at 0 mph as well as while moving. if this only happens while moving, then there could be a transmission related issue.

try (when the car is warmed up) to rev it up to the same rpm. see if it does the same ‘stalling’ thing. write back with more info.

also, how long ago did you fill up with gas? and what was this in relation to the sputtering?