Do I Need To Take My Car To A Mechanic

Last week I was driving from New York City to Washington DC, when my car broke down in Delaware on 95. I had been driving at an average of 60mph for 2.5 hours. Suddenly the battery, engine and oil lights came on and the car started slowing down and then just stalled out. I turned the car off and tried to start it but it wouldn’t start. I did this three times and on the third time, it started. There was plenty of oil in the car, the temperature gauge did not go up and it was not smoking. I took the car to a mechanic in Delaware and they ran diagnostic testing on it for a day and half and couldn’t find anything wrong, so I drove the car three hours back to New York with no problems. When the car broke down my heat shell had just started to drag on the ground near the front passenger side tire. I told the mechanic this, but he didn’t seem to think much of it. I didn’t know if this might have to do with why it broke down. They secured the heat shell and it didn’t drag at all while I was driving home. My question is this: does it seem important for me to have the car looked at by a mechanic in New York? How unusal is it for a car to break down like that and then run fine?

Thanks so much!!


Your engine stalled for some as yet unknown reason. The lights that came on and the slowing down are all just symptoms of that. You didn’t realize that the engine had stalled until your road speed was too slow for the transmission to keep turning the engine (and the power steering pump and brake vacuum).
It’s not normal for cars to stall unless they run out of gas or have a defect. Since you didn’t run out of gas, you must have a defect of some sort beginning. I’d want to find and fix it before being left stranded somewhere.
A wild guess is that your fuel pump may be failing. How many miles and what year is your car. How well taken care of is it (maintenance all up to date)?

For the record, it is “heat shield”, not “heat shell”, and there isn’t only one in your car. Just saying.

You don’t know why it broke down, why it began to run fine again, if it will happen again, or if it will stay broken down when it happens again.

Are you prepared for it to happen again on some busy road, late at night, when it’s raining, and you need to be somewhere?

If it were my car, I’d do whatever was required to make sure I could trust the car again.

“Do I Need To Take My Car To A Mechanic”

Only if you want to avoid being stranded again, possibly in an inconvenient or unsafe location, at an inconvenient time.

Cars are not really known for repairing themselves, so whatever defect caused your car to stall while driving at high speed is undoubtedly still present. What makes it extremely difficult for anyone to comment in more detail is the lack of detail in your post.

You have not revealed vital details such as–the model year of the Camry, the odometer mileage, and its maintenance history. Also, did you recently purchase this car, or have you had it for an extended period of time?

In the absence of really important details such as the foregoing, all I can advise is to take it to a competent mechanic for further attempts at diagnosis. If the car’s maintenance is not totally up to date, have that done by the mechanic also. Perhaps just decent maintenance for this mystery vehicle will resolve the problem.

Model year, mileage?? Your engine stalled for a reason…It stopped getting ignition spark or it stopped getting fuel. One or the other. It could have been just a little water in your gas and that cured itself…Your fuel pump, located inside the gas tank, could have failed for some unknown reason. Problems like this that disappear are almost impossible to diagnose and repair. It must stall and stay stalled for a mechanic to run it down…

Model, year and mileage.

Whenever someone says “heat shield” everyone thinks of the one on the cat converter. But this one was dragging by the right front wheel. That makes me suspect that it might have been a heat shield protecting electrical components from the heat of the exhaust manifold. The loss of such a heat shield can cause an engine to fail by allowing the heat from the manifold to overheat something like a coil or an igniter. In my '91 Camry the coil was in the distributor assembly, common on older Camrys with distributor based ignition systems, and the loss of the manifold heat shield could easily have cooked the distributor and its components.

Yes, I’d have this looked at again. As a minimum I’d want to know exactly what broke and exactly why it might have caused engine failure.