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91 Camry Cold Start Stall


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1991 Camry 2 l. 4 cyl. stalls in the morning when engine is cold once you slip in gear.

Also it smokes a few seconds at first and then smoke disappears.

When it is colder sometimes it would only run (in park) if you gradually press the gas pedal - sounds like you only have 3 cyllinders and has no power - stops even if you try reverse (or is reverse bigger than first on automatics? i don't know).

After 10 minutes or less it warms up and runs ok. Sometimes it would start ok but if I get on the highway before it warms up it would not accelerate, or it would lose power in the middle of acceleration and almost stall. It is mighty frustrating for me and for drivers behind me.

I usually like to accelarate and decelerate at a moderate pace (I could do a great gas mileage on those hybrids when I can afford one), but I found that when it doesn't stall and I go a little fast in the parking lot and on the block before I get to the highway I don't get that stalling in the middle of accelleration - I suppose something warms up faster from the acceleration and deceleration whether it is valves, pistons, gaskets, transmission oil or whatever the heck else. And that makes a difference with the stalling.

Also I noticed it takes a little while between depressing the gas pedal and accelerating - like it has no power especially after a while in heavy trafic.

My greatest fear is to get stuck in traffic with more than 2 people in the car. It would downshift and roar much higher rpm than regular but not accelerate accordingly.

This is my first automatic and I don't know stick about it.

I change the engine oil by the book -7500m - all synthentic at that.

And another thing - it never shifts into overdrive until the temperature hits the bottom of the scale - whatever speed you are doing it does't go over 3rd gear when cold. Is this normal, or is it some special feature to ensure it reaches a working temperature sooner?

After I got my oil check tube crooked in one shop, and very hard to check oil since then, and I got my car with half the bolts loose (not hand tight but but 1/4 inch out) at another I decided I cannot trust my car and life and limb and friends and family to some greedy lazy crook. Now I am educatung myself on these new cars ("new" means no carburator and no clutch) as much as I can so at least I know things are done right when necessary.

If you have ideas I'll be happy to hear from you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Pull your plugs and figure which one is burning oil. The oil seals on your valves are shot on that cylinder and are not doing their job. this would also explain why you are low on oil all the time.You turn off the engine,oil leaks down into cylinder. you start engine and poof! the oil burns. it seems to go away after a while because it's a slow leak and the engine keeps up no problem.

Either that or check your coolant, If it's low then fill the reservoir and run her a couple days & see if it goes down any. Is the smoke blueish? could potentially be a head gasket.

The sluggishness could be a bad fuel pressure regulator. change your pcv valve also.

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Thanks Sandman.

Yes the smoke is a little blueish, mostly white though.

Neither the oil nor the coolant is diminishing, at least not at a detectable rate.

It only smokes for a couple seconds after cold start, and that's it.

You sound like a knowledgeable person on the matter. What potential damage can this smoking issue lead to, if not serviced. I mean otherwise the car runs fine. How many miles are left on it like that?

I am going to check the cylinders/plugs.

Any idea where i can look up prices for the head gasket or valves, or oil seals, or whatever it turns out I am going to need, so I can plan my budget to run a fairly happy car.

I've seen people use silicone as a cheaper alternative of those gaskets on old russian cars - just caulking the whole thing all over. It seemed far fetched.

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