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Sputtering engine

i have a 2001 toyota camera with approx 120k miles. just relocated to colorado from georgia. i began noticing the car was sputtering/hesitating when it is in drive only. doesn’t do it in park or neutral. i took it to the dealer and they did a diagnostic test and wasn’t able to determine what exactly it was. they said it could be one of the injectors. gave me some cleaner. it worked for a bit but now it has started again? how would i know for sure it is one of the injectors?

The injectors can be tested. Sounds to me like the dealer was just guessing.

A dirty Idle Air Control valve can cause uneven idle speed, and your car has enough miles on it for this to be a possibility. When was the last time the spark plugs were replaced?

The Dealer made no sales pitch to try and get you to let them (pay them) to continue with diagnosis of your cars problem? Not typical Dealer behaviour.

That is symptomatic of an original fuel filter, with 120,000 miles service behind it. So, replace those high-mileage parts: spark plugs, air filter, fuel filter.

I had just had the spark plugs replaced prior to driving it cross country, but not sure they replaced the air control valve? The air control valve just might be it. I will replace it and see if that works. Thanks for your time. I will let you know. Love your show!!!

I had just had this done prior to driving it cross country from Georgia to Colorado. Unless they left on the old parts and didn’t actually change them? I will check that out. Although, I think the dealer I took it to looked at my invoice and saw that it had recently been serviced? Thanks for your response.


An Idle Air Control valve is not all that cheap - you wouldn’t just throw one on there based on a guess. So don’t just replace it to see if it works. What you need is a proper diagnosis. There are ways of testing fuel injectors. Call around and ask at local shops. You don’t need to see a dealer. Good independent mechanics are perfectly capable and will normally give you a better deal and be less prone to try to sell you things you don’t need.

And the people on this board aren’t Tom & Ray (or - if any of them are they don’t say so).

Can you clarify exactly when this sputtering occurs? Is it only while you are at idle and in drive? Or does it sputter as you accelerate? Does it sputter when you hit your cruising speed and are just maintaining speed?

Those kinds of things make a difference in the likely culprits.

Anyway, a couple of things left after plugs, air & fuel filters are ignition coil(s) and fuel pump pressure. In addition - if the problem is mostly at idle only - you might have a torque converter that is not unlocking.

Is your check engine light on?

yes. It only does it once you engage the engine. It does not do it when in neutral or park. The rpms are at their normal level. Once you put it in drive or when you accelerate, it hesitates/sputters, like it is skiping or misfiring. yes the check engine light is on.

thanks, j

yes the check engine light is on.

Well, it just might have been important to mention that part as it is your best tool for sorting this out. You need to have the car’s computer scanned for codes. Many auto parts stores will do this for free (Autozone now has a large ad campaign going on to that effect). So have the codes read and then post them up here - but post the actual codes (e.g. P0123) not what anyone tells you about them. Also don’t let anyone sell you any parts on the basis of those codes.

If that light starts blinking at you, stop driving the car immediately and have it towed to a mechanic. Driving around with a blinking light can lead to very serious engine damage.

I was just told now that the car has a slight knocking sound??? So now it is spurtering and knocking??? Called the dealership where we took it before and will be taking it in on thursday to get it checked out again. Thanks for the blinking light warning. I will ask for the codes when they do the diagnostic test and try to get them posted. I don’t think there are any autozones in this area but I will check it out. It is the authorized toyota dealearship that we are taking it to. Thanks again.

Your Dealer should provide you the codes,you are paying for it.Just make sure to tell the Service Advisor you want a list of all current and history codes and that you want what diagnostics were performed and you want detailed info. Tell him you are not concerned if the information is extremely detailed as you have a group of friends that are going to look over the data.

Be prepared for your advisor to “cop a attitude” maybe you bring doughnuts.

Sounds good. I just found an autozone in the city where we will be taking the car. I am also going to call the dealership where I had the major tune up and explain the symptoms to them as well to see what they say. I have been using this dealer for about 4 years so they have all the history on the vehicle. Yes, doughnuts might not be a bad idea. Of course I will hang onto them until after the conversation! Thanks, j

This may sound really simplistic, but this happened to me a month after an oil change. The car sputtered and a strange d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d–d-d-d-d was coming thru the speakers. Very weird. I popped the hood and found a spark plug wasn’t all the way pushed onto the plug. yikes. Anyway. Thought it might be worth pushing all the plug wires… -m

The dealer took each plug out and put them back in to make sure they were firing. It sure can’t hurt to push on them just to make sure he got them back in tightly. I will do that. It is worth it. Thanks j