1990 Toyota Corolla SE engine hesitation


Old 11-27-02, 04:48 AM
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1990 Toyota Corolla SE engine hesitation

Hi all and thanks in advance for any help.

My sisters 1990 Toyota Corolla SE (Anniversery Addition, sorry I forgot to take note of engine type, I know it's a 4 cylinder, fuel-injected, Automatic) is having an engine hesitation problem, she said it has been happening for a couple of days. Yesterday morning (cold morning -1 degrees C) I took it for a drive. The car started fine but, while it was warming up the engine hesitated at about 20second intervals. After it warmed up a little the intervals spaced out and then seemed to disappear. When I started to drive it and gave it some gas the hesitation problem reappeared (hesitating, "chugging" when first depressing the gas pedal). I just drove it around town a little and the hesitation sort of leveled out at city speed limits but, it was still noticeably there. When I held the brakes down at stop lights the hesitations were pretty bad, almost to the point I thought the engine was going to stall on me.

I brought the car back to her and asked her when the last time she had a tune-up was, it had been a while so, I gave her a list of parts to buy; distributor cap, plugs, rotor, PCV valve, air filter.

As it turns out she was going to have a radiator flush and fill and an oil change later in the day so I told her to have them clean the fuel injectors and check the fuel filter while they were at it.

They cleaned the injectors and looked at the fuel filter but said it was fine so they didn't replace it. I then replaced the distributor cap (wires attached), plugs, rotor, air filter and started it up. There was no hesitation while it was idling in park but, it had been driven around a bit and the temperature had warmed up so, I took it for a road test. There wasn't the hesitation when giving it gas, at first but, at my first stop light the hesitation reappeared (not as bad as in the morning). And then when I gave it gas, yep, you guessed it HESITATION (not as bad as in the morning).

I drove it back, popped the hood and checked for bad hoses for possible vacuum leaks, the hoses all looked and felt good. Oh, by the way, the parts department didn't have the right PCV valve but, will have one tomorrow. So, I'll replace that in the morning.

If that doesn't solve the problem then what? I'm about at my mechanical limit as far as vehicle diagnostics is concerned. The other thing I was wondering about is, could this be a timing belt or timing chain (not sure which 1990 Corolla SE has) problem? Also, a friend suggested a defective EGR sensor(whatever that is), I just nodded like I knew what he was talking about and thought I would ask about it here. Could I replace these myself? Any links for websites with tutorials on timing belt or EGR sensor replacement?

Sorry about the long winded post but, I wanted to try and give an accurate description of the problem. Any thoughts, comments or (Hopefully) solutions to this hesitation problem would be appreciated.

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Old 11-27-02, 10:47 AM
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Hesitation could be caused by a sticking EGR valve. Take it off, observe it for carbon deposits, clean it and install it with a new gasket. See if that helps.
Old 05-31-03, 01:57 AM
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Man, I'm such an idiot, I forgot where I posted this question (months back). Anyway, replacing the PCV valve did the trick. I hope this post helps someone else with the same problem.

The car is running like a dream now, 230,561 km and runs like the day it was purchased---Great cars!

Thanks for your input Joe_F. Thanks to you, I now know what an EGR valve is (did an internet search).

Old 05-31-03, 07:51 AM
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Better late than never . These are not bad little tykes of cars.

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