Shuddering, chugging feeling on acceleration; third new axle in two months

A couple of months ago, my car people said that my front driver side axle was looking iffy and that I should replace it soon, so I asked them to do it now. (1991 Toyota Camry, 162,000 miles on it, about, at th time.) Somewhere between 500 and 1000 miles later, I noticed a shuddering, chugging feeling/noise on acceleration that went away when I took my foot off the gas. I took it in, and they pronounced the first new axle bad and replaced it. It happened again, in about 500 miles, and they figured that they had gotten a bad batch of axles, and replaced it again. This time, my car guy said that there was more play, more room, than he would expect, between whatever an axle fits into and the axle, probably because of the age of the car. It’s been about 400 miles and it’s starting AGAIN. I think the world of my car guy, and he’s clearly not making any money on this, but could this be something completely unrelated to the axle? If so, what?

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the shuddering and chugging was the result of spark plugs or an air filter or a fuel filter that needed to be changed? If this guy is changing axles when the problem is really just the need for basic maintenance, he is screwing himself, as well as inconveniencing you.

Is this car up to date on its maintenance?

odds are its not maintenance if its not continuous but it could be the splines on either the hub or transmission. if your mechanic is good though he will have already checked this. i also ran into this problem with an isuzu. i was replacing the parts myself buying them from autozone (big mistake) they kept replacing the same part but it was not the correct part for the car.

You know, the fuel filter thing occurred to me, because in my non-mechanically inclined thinking, demand on the engine caused by accelerating might, uh, cause a tired fuel filter to … to stutter? My car guy chuckled when I suggested this, however. I am pretty obsessive about maintaining it, but I think I’ll go look at the air filter, just to prove to myself that I know where it is! Thanks!

If you don’t know when the fuel filter was last replaced, it is probably due. I replace mine every 30k.

If that filter has been in place for a very long time, you could have killed the fuel pump by making it force gas through a partially clogged filter. Acceleration problems can result from both a bad fuel filter and a bad fuel pump.

I will check my records and see when it was last replaced. But here’s a quibble, I guess: when they replace the axle, the chugging does go away for awhile (around 500 miles). So it seems like what they’re doing is having some effect, unless it’s some wild extreme placebo effect that is fooling both them and me! I mean, I did wonder if it was more of an engine thing than a body thing, so I really paid attention when I picked it up the last time, finding a long hill to put lots of torque on the engine and stuff.

Thank you for being so forthcoming with ideas, by the way!

Well, I’d bet the engine is missing on acceleration, maybe fuel filter or pump but probably plugs or wires.

A clogged fuel filter could cause this kind of problem but a filter problem should not be a come and go issue like this.

In regards to the axles, it’s also entirely possible faulty axles can cause this and it’s also possible to get repeats on bad axles.

A year or so ago I replaced both front halfshafts in one of my daughter’s cars; a Mitsubishi.
About 2 months later it was lurching badly at time to the point of being near undriveable. An inspection showed a bad axle and since it was a lifetime guarantee part I swapped it out and off she went.
About 2 weeks later it was doing the same thing.

Removal of the axle and a physical inspection showed it was bad.
The parts house (O’Reillys) ordered another axle and this time I inspected it on the counter before even leaving with it. Bad.
They ordered another axle and ditto; the same thing. Bad before leaving.
The 3rd one they ordered appeared to be fine and the car suffered no more problems.

O’Reillys said their supplier had changed (obviously not for the better) and this scenario could be what is occurring with your car.
Bottom line is your mechanics should not be guessing on axle condition. The removed axle can be inspected just like the reman one before installation.
I would also not expect an internal transaxle problem to be a come and go issue either. Hope that helps.

I was thinking the same thing ok4450 was thinking. Your tech may need to consider trying a different supplier. He may be using a part from one of the more economical suppliers to try to get you a cheaper deal. I have had trouble with parts from suppliers like Advance and O’Reilly’s (never even tried AutoZone parts on a customer’s car, but they are probably comparable, in all fairness), but they are usually the cheapest game in town, which is often the preference of the customer. At this point, it seems beneficial to both your tech and you for him to send the next bad part back to wherever he got it from, get a refund, and try one from somewhere else. NAPA and CarQuest are probably the best bets for good quality parts, although they may cost a little more. It will seem like a bargain to your tech if he doesn’t have to do this job for free anymore, though.