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John Miller
John Miller, ASE Master Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 199
Experience:  37 yrs auto repair experience, host The Car Counselor Show on Talk Radio 950 KPRC Houston TX
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1997 Toyota Camry with rough idle

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I live in Seattle, WA. I meant to have the car winterized before moving here from Austin, TX recently. I have not done so. I am 70 miles past my oil change, which I'm getting done tomorrow. It starts automatically. I can speed up and slow down. Any speed below 30mph will create a rough idle feel. Not knocking or pinging, but a slow rough type of idle. I guess if feels like some one is is softly pushing at the car. After driving the car for a few minutes I check under the hood, and there is a faint (very subtle) burning smell. My temperature gauge reads a little below the middle section (between cool and hot) of the gauge. Again, I can drive up steep hills and drive down steep inclines. I can reach top speed. That's the best way I can explain it.

I would appreciate anything you can offer.

I would suggest checking the basic maintenance stuff first. When was the last time the spark plugs, fuel and air filters were changed. The change in climate will bring out any weakness.

there is an air intake tube on the car. Remove it and clean the passages there with spray carb cleaner making sure that the butterfly and main tube are clean. This will effect the idle speed.


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Customer: replied 10 years ago.

In March 2006 I had the spark plugs, fuel filter, water pump (a belt closely related to the water pump--I think the fan belt anyway a belt?)changed, and got a tune up, and some other preventative maintanence stuff done. Those measures were just preventative measures (nothing was broken).

My last oil/air filter was changed in August 2006(I go every 3,000 miles). I'm curretnly over my 3,000 miles by 80 miles. I haven't checked the water/antifreeze ratio because I usually have technicians at an oil change place check the fluids.

So, if I clean the intake tube and take care of the oil/antifreeze/air filter maintanence, this should take care of the rough idle?

Thank you for all of your help.

When you take it in for the service be sure to have them look for vacuum lines that may have broken from the cold weather. Do you get any check engine lights on?

Sorry I haven't been more help.

Customer: replied 10 years ago.

Thank you for you time and consideration. I've always had a problem with my check engine light. It's usually on. In 2006, I could not pass state inspection because my EGR system was not up to code. I was told this was the reason for my check engine light always being on. So, I had the EGR system replaced (except the mass airflow sensor). Even after getting the update, the check engine light continued to intermittantly light up. It still does. I've chalked it up to electrical problems. For instance, now, I live in this cold weather, the "R" letter for reverse is always lit up on my dashboard regardless of which gear I'm in.

Your assistance will point me in the right direction when I go to the shop.

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
So, when I take my car to a mechanic, should I just have him do a tune up as well as oil/filter change? My dad, who works on cars, told me that my car is not used to the cold temperatures and altitude here in Seattle.