Car Talk me.
December 21, 2011 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Before I go back to the auto shop to get them to fix something they didn't get right the first time . . . maybe you can help?

I took my 1988 Toyota Camry in for repair because it wasn't accelerating properly--sometimes, unpredictably, the acceleration rate would get stuck and be quite slow, which is risky when merging onto freeways (and there's a lot of freeway driving in the Bay Area!). I guess this is called hitting dead spots? Like I can have the pedal to the floor and it doesn't accelerate quickly. So the garage said it was a distributor problem and replaced the distributor, but even after picking up the car the problem was still evident. Their work is under warranty so I can take it back, but . . . what is the problem? I'd like to know a little more about what might be going on before I take it back to them.
posted by liketitanic to Grab Bag (4 answers total)
I would first check for a dirty throttle body. I think this year of camry is fuel injected not carbourated. This area gets carboned up and sometimes the throttle plate sticks either open or closed. It is a pretty easy thing to diagnose and clean. Could also be sediment in your fuel tank clogging the intake and/or fuel filter, a faulty egr valve (also likely just needs cleaning), maybe something with an intermittant vacuum leak? I would not first suspect and ignition system issue but changing distributor cap and rotor, coil, wires and plugs isn't all that expensive and probably needed anyway every few years.
posted by bartonlong at 1:30 PM on December 21, 2011

It honestly could be almost anything from spark plug wires to a sensor to a fuel pressure issue. Does it happen at certain times? In certain weather conditions? Most problems having to do with the spark/ignition system (ie, plug wires, distributors, coils, etc) get a LOT worse in wet weather. Fueling issues tend to be a bit more consistent.
posted by pjaust at 1:32 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

So I had a friend whose car had this problem... until she took it to the car wash and went to vacuum the floor mats and realized the driver's side floor mat was bunched up underneath the gas pedal. I know it's a remote possibility, but something that's very easy to check, and free to fix!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:52 PM on December 21, 2011

There is nowhere near enough information here to form a diagnosis without having hands on the car. If t is a repeatable symptom (ie can you make it happen?) check whether the garage experienced the symptom. If they don't know, offer to drive and show them the problem.

It honestly could be absolutely anything based on what you have told us so far.

I'd take the car back, explain nicely that the work they did didn't fix the issue and ask what they intend to do about that. If they were supposed to be fixing that issue and that issue alone, then at least some of the labour of the first job should be refunded or some of the extra work should be discounted or free, I'd suggest. The work they didn't probably wasn't unnecessary, but you did take it in to fix a specific problem and that issue wasn't affected by the work they did.
posted by Brockles at 2:06 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

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