Toyota lack of Acceleration

I have a 2009 Toyota Corolla with under 90,000 mi. Sometimes while driving, the car will refuse to accelerate and slow down to about 10 mi an hour. The only way to fix it, is to pull over and turn the car off and restart it. It immediately responds and it doesn’t happen again. This lack of acceleration usually occurs in the first 5 mi of driving. I have a new battery–any thoughts?

Have you ever changed the fuel filter? Your car’s symptoms look just like a car starved for fuel from a dirty fuel filter. One of the clues is “will refuse to accelerate”. A dirty fuel filter will starve an engine under stress such as acceleration or hill climbing. Removing the stress, even for a few moments, will allow enough fuel to get through to re-pressurize the lines.

Is the check engine light on?
If so get the error codes read from the computer. Some parts stores will do this for free.
It could be a bad gas pedal position sensor.
When this part fails the computer goes into a “limp-home” mode; the throttle response is greatly reduced.
This car has “drive-by-wire”.
The gas pedal does not open the throttle directly. It sends a signal to the computer, which then opens the throttle.
I don’t see how a dirty fuel filter would “fix” itself when turning the engine off and on.
Besides that, this car has a “lifetime” fuel filter, a big screen that surrounds the fuel pump.

Push on gas, no accel? Motor is still running? Has not stalled? You pull over AND motor idles fine? Than you restart motor and drive fine?

I’m with bloodyknuckles on this. These are classic symptoms of Fuel supply interruptus.

See my edited post above.

@circuitsmith - I know Toyota fuel filters are “lifetime”. Does that mean that they never clog? Methinks not!!! Turning off the engine does not “fix” the problem. It simply allows the slow supply of fuel to re-pressurize the fuel line. I have owned many Toyota’s and have experienced this situation twice, and both times replacing the fuel filter fixed it. I apologize if this flies in the face of your logic. That doesn’t necessarily mean I am right and you may very well be correct but I thought I should defend my position on this problem.

Sounds like the electronic throttle body may be on the way out.

I don’t think I have replaced the fuel filter but will tomorrow. I am at 90,000 mi. I drive a little over 20,000 miles a year.

My check engine light comes on every time this “lack of acceleration” happens. The last time was tonight and the lack of acceleration was immediate. My car had been parked for about 8 hours and I didn’t even get out of the parking space before it refused to respond. (Usually this happens a few miles into the drive).

The frequency of occurance is increasing as well. It happened once in February and once in April, and now twice in May. I have been lucky, 3 of the 4 times have been on residential streets, so I just put on my hazard lights and get over to the side, but I am a LA freeway driver and having this happen in the carpool lane is a recipe for disaster.

To date, all I have had to do is turn the car off and restart it to “right” the acceleration issue, but the check engine light remains on, even though the acceleration has been “righted”. I get home, my car sits in the drive overnight and when I start the car in the morning, no check engine light and no lack of acceleration issues…until the next time it happens.

Don’t laugh at me, (OK laugh at me) but Sears Auto repair is right by my office and I take it there each time and they tell me various things, its the battery–I replaced the battery. It happened again, now they are suggesting sprocket replacement, which sounds spurious to me. They tried to run a diagnostic on it and plugged the computer device into the car port but couldn’t get it to respond and told me to go somewhere else because they couldn’t get a diagnostic on my car. And I will.

Now that I am thinking of it, there has always been a little play in my break pedal. While idling at a stop light the pedal will disappear under my foot. I have also explained this to mechanic after mechanic (not just Sears) and no one seems to be too concerned about it, except for me. Probably not a related issue, but just throwing it out there.

Your fuel filter doesn’t need to be replaced unless your fuel tank is found to be contaminated. Your fuel filter was not designed to be replaced as a routine maintenance item.

Your check engine light/stored faults will indicate the area of failure. This is an electronic throttle control problem. You need to take it to a qualified repair shop, not a maintenance/brake shop.

The brake pedal sinking is probably a failing master cylinder.

Sears cannot read codes but they will replace your sprocket? What the bleep is a sprocket? Or they want you to have sprocket replaced at another shop? Maybe get George jetson involved?

What the bleep is a sprocket?

They may have a very good bicycle mechanic there.

Mystery appears to have been solved. I took my car to “Cabot Auto Center” in Laguna Niguel. I explained the problem to owner, Gary Nagle and left it for the day. Gary had a hard time getting the computer to issue error codes but he got the fault code PO575 Cruise Control Input Circuit Fault and PO60E Internal Control Module/Throttle Position Performance. The codes apparently weren’t very helpful but he found a TSB Bulletin for Faulty Brake Circuit. He discovered that one of my brake socket bulbs was faulty and as a result it was providing some sort of resistance which caused the car to shut itself down. I was in bumper to bumper traffic today crawling at 5 mph for about 30 minutes and the check engine light did not go on and the car did not stall. I am hopeful that this odd mystery has been solved. Thank you all for your helpful suggestions and I think my days at Sears Auto are over. Thanks Car Talk!


Congratulations are in order!

It sounds as if you may have found a thorough and competent mechanic.

The Sears folks couldn’t even hook-up the diagnostic computer port? There should be a bumper sticker with that comment on it. Or AAMCO. Or any chain. Wow. Amy, find an independent mechanic locally by asking around and try to stick with that tech. So far as a solution? The fuel filter is easy enough to change (cheap too) but I think that it is something else. Change it and drive it, see if it helps. Ever had a tune-up on this 90k Toyota? You may be due. But find an independent tech soon. Problems will occur now that your miles have started to rack up, so you’ll need someone to depend on. Rocketman

Your car is going into “limp” mode. This happens when the car’s computer detects a significant fault in the system - which is why you get the check engine light. The problem could be in either the motor or the transmission. Shutting the car off and then turning it on again “resets” the computer. During this process the computer isn’t finding a problem and allows the car to run normally.

Sears doesn’t have the full compliment of diagnostic equipment that a Toyota dealer has. Since this is an '09 I’d take it to Toyota service department for a real diagnosis. Sears is just guessing and throwing parts at the problem will be a waste of money. In this case you’ll get faster, and cheaper results taking it to Toyota.