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Idle or Stalling Problems - All Vehicles



  • Check your distributor for oil inside of it. You'll have to remove the cap, rotor, and inside dust cover which protects the camshaft sensor. If oil is on the metal disc wipe it carefully with a paper towel and blow it out of the openings in the metal disc and sensor assy with canned air(some people use electric parts cleaner).

    I had to do this to my sons 95 Alti recently. The cause is a worn oil seal on the engine side of the distributor. It cost about $3 from the dealer if you can find a parts man willing to order it for you. I had to go to two different dealers to find one who would.

    This is a well known problem for the 1st and 2nd generation Altimas. The dealers like to sell $400 distributors for this problem.

    I haven't had to rescue my son since I did this.

    If this is your problem, I'll lookup the Nissan part number for you.
  • This problem seems to come and go. The last time I had it checked and was told there was a "carbon build-up" that was cleaned, solving the problem for 7 months or so. Now it's back.

    Also my check engine light has always been on, but the mechs always tell me it is just a sensor malfunction and nothing worth repairing or getting excited about.

    Any ideas for a true fix on my stall problem?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,454
    Well I don't think you got very good advice there. If your check engine light is on, this might very well offer you the code to solve your problem. Crystal ball auto repair is very neat and tidy but often wrong. So you need to have the car's computer scanned and see what's up and see if the codes that come up relate to a stalling issue. (egr, clogged catalytic, misfire, etc)

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  • have a 88 dakota it is hard to start and idles rough for a few minutes then is good after it warms up. you have to keep giving it gas to keep it running till it warms up
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    either a lazy O2 sensor or a temperature sensor are the ones that I have had issues with on previous cars to cause this kind of useless warmup. there could also be a vacuum leak someplace, maybe a bad EGR-type valve. the latter two might be found by spraying a little water around all vacuum hose connections... if you can spray the trouble away, you found a vacuum leak. that old an engine, if there's an O2 sensor on it, I'd measure voltage across it with the engine running per the diagnostics in the manual, and replace it if it's nutty as a first step.
  • mmx6mmx6 Posts: 18
    My mechanic completely screwed up my car (95 Nissan 200SX SE-R with the SR20DE engine) and I was hoping someone out there might know how, since he doesn't. I took it in for an oil change and he wanted to do a throttle body cleaning and fuel injector cleaning. I said what the hell, okay.

    The result? First, my car now has a high idle -- about 950 RPM at rest in Drive and 1100-1200 RPM at rest in Neutral (750 or so is normal, right?) -- so it always feels like the engine's cold. It also goes faster when I just let the idle speed push me along in the parking lot.

    I took it back to him but he couldn't figure out what's wrong. So it still has those problems, and has now developed one more: on one occasion today, it idled all the way to 1700(!) RPM on its own and took me for a ride with it. When I left it in Drive without pressing any pedal, it gradually accelerated all the way up through THIRD gear and at least 22 MPH, possibly higher if I hadn't run out of residential driveway. Scary stuff.

    WHAT'S GOING ON??? What could he have done to my car? Thanks for any reply.

    In the meantime, don't visit All Tune & Lube in Mountain View, CA (Middlefield Road). Please.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,454
    Well one thing comes to mind. If he didn't use the right type of cleaner when he got into that throttle body, he could have damaged a sensor.

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  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    something significant, like the brake booster. but that is "gutless" rpm, the car dies when you drop it into gear with that stuff. I think shifty's right.
  • alternatoralternator Posts: 629
    My 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier (2.2L) engine (30,000 miles) has a mildly rough idle (like little surges), that comes and goes from hour to hour of operation.

    My dealer changed the fuel filter and then told me that my problem was a leaking valve cover gasket that had allowed oil to foul the plugs, ruin the plug wiring, and ruin the serpentine belt. He proposed to replace the valve cover gasket, replace the plugs, replace the plug wiring, replace the serpentine belt, clean the jets, all to the total of about $600 (I said no thanks).

    I had already replaced the air filter and PCV valve. Only a minute amount of oil seems to have leaked out onto the block (at one corner only). The plugs are nearly new and look normal (no oiling or white deposit, and the gap is okay). There is no oil on the wiring and the serpentine belt appears clean to me. Please give me your best guess of what my problem might actually be.
  • texasmactexasmac Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 Explorer XLT with a V6 motor that has 50k plus miles on it. After purchasing, I noticed during muggy days that the engine idles like it has a miss. I brought this to the attention of my Dealer service agent at my 50k mile oil change and he mentioned that this is normal on the V-6 models. Does this make sense? The engine sometimes idles as smooth as my Lexus, so I don't understand his answer.

    In addition, I have an issue with pinging when accelerating to near highway speeds. I use the mid grade gasoline (89), but this only moderately helps. Is this issue related to the engine idle issue, do I have sensor on the blink.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    on ping for these cars. I'd say stay with 87 regular, and look for the problem. the EGR valve and spark plugs and wires are obvious places to look for issues, and don't forget to resistance-test the plug wires while you're at it. also, use a shop rag soaked in alcohol and clean the outside of the wires and boots. also check all the visible vacuum hoses for tight, non-cracked connections.

    my v8 has an occasional ragged idle like one cylinder, and last time I chased that at the 28K mark I had a plug with a little abnormal wear. it's not unusual to have one cylinder made near tolerances in an engine, and as long as I'm not soaking up the plug with oil or anything, I'm just watching it. about time I wrench 'em all out again, it's vacation time in the boonies real soon now, and I'd like to be sure of a stable chariot.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,454
    How bad is this ping? If it is steady and loud, you want to investigate that. If it is only a brief thing, not such a worry.

    Ping is about faulty combustion, combustion that is ragged, premature, uneven. So either we have a timing issue, which on modern cars is really a sensor/computer issue, or we have extremely lousy gas, so bad that even the computer can't compensate even with its generous "fuel map".

    Put in some high octane, the highest you can find, and let us know what happens.

    Excessive pinging is dangerous for your engine.

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  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,659
    Have they considered looking at any service bulletins to see if any pertain to your problem?
    Ask them if they looked into the service bulletins, particularly the one below.
    And have they considered reflashing the PCM?

    Article No.
    1994-1997 THUNDERBIRD
    1995-2003 TAURUS
    1996-2003 MUSTANG
    1995-1997 AEROSTAR
    1995-2003 RANGER, WINDSTAR
    1996-2000 EXPLORER
    1997-2003 E SERIES, F-150
    1994-1997 COUGAR
    1995-2003 SABLE
    1997-2000 MOUNTAINEER
    Incorrectly installed gear driven camshaft position (CMP) sensor synchronizer assemblies may be hard to diagnose. Vehicle may exhibit poor fuel economy, driveability Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) P1336, P1309, P0340 with MIL light on. Loss of power, surge, hesitation and runs rough on acceleration may also be present.
    New diagnostics have been developed for WDS to diagnose incorrectly installed gear driven camshaft position (CMP) synchronizer assemblies. Refer to the following Service Procedure to diagnose a possible mis-installed synchronizer assembly and proper installation procedure.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    The car: '87 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera with the "Iron Duke" 2.5 engine.

    The Problem: The engine dies during the warm up phase. Specifically, it starts okay, but then dies repeatedly until it reaches full operating temperature. Some examples of when this behavior occurs are (1) after car has been sitting all day in my work place garage, I start it to return home and am going down the garage ramp, it dies; (2) when first accelerating from a dead stop.

    I took the car to a GM dealer, and they identified a code problem with the Ignition Module and the Electronic Control Module (either/or), but they said they couldn't repair it because they don't carry these replacement parts for the '87 model of this car.

    I'd welcome suggestions on what to do to repair this car, which has ~86,000 miles and has been carefully maintained. I'd like to keep it on the road, but at the same time not spend more than what is justified by the nominal market value of this car. Help!?
  • yleeylee Posts: 4
    It seems out of topic but I have a question.

    I've always wanted to drive a car with manual transmission and I finally got one.

    As I drive along, I've noticed car can roll from 0 mph to about 5 mph by only pushing clutch half way through(without pushing gas pedal)

    If I can use this method in a heavy traffic, it will be great but I am not sure it could damage my transmission.

    Can anyone tell me how you drive in a heavy traffic or is it okay to push the clutch half way?
  • alternatoralternator Posts: 629
    That's called "slipping the clutch" and will wear out your clutch prematurely.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,454
    Oh, I think he's talking about something else but maybe wasn't too clear. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    What I read anyway, was this...that in heavy traffic, he prefers not to step on the gas but just let the engine's idle speed push the car along by lifting and dropping the clutch pedal.

    So in other words, as long as he isn't "holding" the car on an uphill, or resting his foot on the clutch pedal while the car is going down the highway at high speeds, I don't see any harm in his method of "creeping" along. Basically you do the same thing when you work the gas pedal a little in traffic anyway.

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  • alternatoralternator Posts: 629
    It still seems to me that if he is mushing along by repeatedly engaging and disengaging the clutch, that can't be good for the clutch.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,454
    I don't see how else he's going to creep along in heavy traffic. Maybe we can get him to videotape his left foot and we can see what he's doing :)

    I don't see low speed engagement/disengagement of the clutch as much of a wear factor as there is no power being applied to the clutch disk. It's not the same as riding the clutch and partially disengaging it at highway speeds.

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  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,659
    Pull the trouble codes.
    Then let us know what trouble codes you get.
    It could be the ignition module, which, by the way, NAPA carries.
    But I would also suspect the temp sensor.
    Until we have the trouble code numbers, we can't even guess.

    Let us know what you get.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    ...for your response to our '87 Olds stalling problem. The car belongs to my daughter, who lives out of state. This makes taking corrective action (which can be economically justified on an older car) more difficult because she must first identify a trustworthy mechanic. She had requested my help in resolving this stalling problem, so I forwarded your information on to her.

    In the interim I suggested that she run a can of BG44 through the fuel system, since I've heard that, depending on the spcific problem, this product can at times cure the symptons this car exhibits.
  • cubs9999cubs9999 Posts: 5
    I have a '93 Villager with more than 180K miles on it, hoping to get 2 more years out of it.

    When it drops to low idle it can't/doesn't maintain rpm's. It starts at about 1000rpm and drops to 800, then surges back to 1000. It repeats this cycle faster and faster to the point I have to rev the engine to smooth it back out, then it starts all over again. The warmer the engine is, the worse the problem. The engine seems to run fine when I am driving, except if I try to accelerate hard (up to 3000rpm) like on an onramp, then it hesitates a little.

    I have changed the plugs and wires, with no improvement and have been running fuel injector cleaner through it for a week now.

    I have talked to several people and the suggestions seem to center around the fuel injectors and/or fuel filter, the coil, or an oxygen sensor.

    My questions:
    If I ohm the coil what should I get?
    Since it is older than an '99 I should be able to short out the diagnostic tool interface to get a code, but where do I find out what the codes mean?
    Has anybody pulled their fuel injectors? How big a job is it?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,454
    Have you checked for vacuum leaks? Have you pulled any codes?

    I think the fuel filter and 02 sensor are long shots. The injectors are a possibility, but vacuum leaks are the easiest to work on and a likely suspect. You should do a diagnostic though. It won't give you a direct "answer" but might point you in a good direction.

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  • jks1jks1 Posts: 2
    I have a 1995 Mazda MX6 LS (Manual Trans.) running without problems for the last 3 years.
    But lately, I started noticing a problem of hesitation. I took it to a mechanic who diagnosed a broken distributor cap and replaced it. But the hesitation still remained. So i put a fuel injector cleaner in a 1/3 filled tank instead of a full tank as advised on the bottle.
    After that a new problem developed. Whenever i start the car, the RPM shoots to more than 3000 but comes down after 15-20 seconds and again crosses 3000 the moment i press clutch to put it in gear.It comes to idle/normal rpm of ard. 800 speed after 2-3 minutes of driving.Till then it keeps shooting up the moment the clutch is pressed.
    To further compound the problem, it developed another snag and that is it doesnt start again when its hot (i.e driven for some time and parked and again restarted). It wont starte on first 2-3 tries but starts after about 15 minutes.And i smell gas too after it starts. It starts in one go in the mornings. But i found a way out of it not hot starting recently. While turning the ignition on, i slighlty press Accelerator and it immediately starts.
    And thiers no light of any type flashing on the dashboard.So dont know whats going on.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    likely issues that should be checked first are a loose, missing, or cracking/soft vacuum hose, loose plumbing coming or going from the mass airflow sensor (big air hoses are the key to finding where this block with wires is,) and also check the EGR valve body for restrictions and carbon. EGR valves, whatever the name they sit on the exhaust manifold, and vacuum switches them to allow some dirty air into the intake manifold as a hold-back to cool the explosions in cylinders, goop up after a few years.

    I originally thought sensor, but it would not be common to have a sensor fouled up without a $$$ light. where this could happen is a lazy 02 sensor or a temperature sender.
  • hoopiehoopie Posts: 3
    My Ford stalls before keeping a steady idle, but only in weather below 40 degrees. I have to start the engine about four times before I can put it in drive, otherwise it will stall. In warmer weather you feel a bit of hesitation after starting the engine and taking off. I dread the cold weather for this reason. If it sits any longer than two hours, I go through the whole process again. Frustrating.....
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    I had a ranger that wouldn't keep running enough to warm up in below-zero weather because of a lazy 02 sensor. you could also have a coolant temp sensor that is nutty.

    there are also possibilities in vacuum leaks and the EGR valve, whatever they call it now it's the same damn part doing the same damn job. check the vacuum lines for integrity and the EGR for carbon fouling. it could be just dirty enough, or you could have a vacuum line just leaky enough at a connection, so the engine can overcome the issue when warm, but not when cold.

    if you're over 40,000 miles on the same plugs, take some advice, check the gaps and condition on them as well.
  • johannajohanna Posts: 1
    alright, i'm pretty good with cars, but i'd love to hear some ideas on this one...

    yesterday my saturn stalled at a light for no apparent reason. No lights, sputtering, smoke, high temperature reading or evident electrical problems. It started and ran fine 20 min later. So far i've heard theories ranging from poor gas, to the cat.converter, to a fuel injector. Any ideas would be useful since the car is supposed to go to Canada on friday.

    PS..the car has 163,000 miles and is a '97 SL1.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    except for the no lights part. clean and grease the battery cables and terminals, clean and grease the major ground point to the engine or frame, and put starred lockwashers on every side of every metal-to-metal connection. tug on the fusible link from the battery to the main power distribution to make sure that's not failed intermittently, and pull and reseat all the big-[non-permissible content removed] high-amp fuses for the heck of it. the "battery" fuse, probably something in the 60 or 80 amp range, should be replaced just Because You Can (c) with something like this happening.

    and then, there's the possibility of the start/run switch, which is probably remoted from the key behind the dash or on the lower steering column someplace, varies with the car type and who made the steering column. that could be rotten. a good number of them are really stinky to get to. you might, MIGHT, be able to diagnose that if you can either tap it lightly and have the lights come on, or you can touch the key and have them go out. but that's iffy due to all the linkage between it and the key.

    it is also not impossible you have an intermittent plate strap connection within the battery. lift the thing several inches ONLY and drop it back onto the mounting plate --

    >> danger, warning, horrid issues! car batteries contain dangerous sulfuric acid. possible acid leak or spray could occur. possible short-circuiting which could cause dangerous overheating and venting with pressure or explosion possible. possible fracture of plates could render the battery unable to crank the engine. possible label of "dang fool" or worse may follow you to the public house the rest of your days. if you're going to try this extreme maneuver, be sure you are wearing liquid-proof goggles and protective clothing, and have a charged garden hose immediately at hand. <<

    -- and if the characteristics of the fault change (such as nothing works now, nothing fails now, the battery melts and rots your work boots) then replace the battery. you could also try substituting a similar sized battery from another car and see if the issues go with the saturn's original battery.
  • jks1jks1 Posts: 2
    Thanks Mx-6 is 1993 and not '95 as put earlier.I got a freind of mine, who is a certified Toyota Master technician, to work on it.
    He removed the carbon from the exhaust valve as you suggested.Then he disconnected the cruise ccontrol switch. The result was that idle RPM increased so he adjusted that manually. Their was no surge in RPM for a few days.Now the starting surge has returned and it keeps shooting beyond 3K till the time car is driven for 3-4 minutes.
    Unfortunately, my friend was with me for a day and their was as much he could do.
    Now dont know whom to turn to...
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