I have a 2000 Toyota Celica with about 180k miles.

When my car has been off for a few hours and I try to start it up, if I try to press on the gas (either in drive, reverse, or park) within a few minutes, it starts sputtering and sounds like the engine is about to stall. If I let the engine run for 5 minutes, I step on the gas, and off we go. Other times when I am driving, it sounds like it's doing the same thing when I press on the gas too quickly (like at a stoplight); if I ease into it, it's fine.

There doesn't seem to be any difference in cold or hot weather. The check engine light is on, and when diagnostics were run, the guy at autozone said the engine might be running lean. My brother-in-law (not professional) suggested cleaning the mass airflow sensor (haven't done this yet, since reading some horror stories of people trying to do this themselves). I've read around that the overdrive, which I always leave on, might be an issue. I've had the oil and transmission fluid changed, and it didn't seem to affect it at all.

Does any one have any ideas of what to do? Starting with the least expensive, of course, unless it's inevitable that I might have to spend an arm and a leg.

  • 2
    Welcome to the site. The specific error code will be a great help in helping you diagnose the potential issue(s).
    – Zaid
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 20:24
  • Dont be afraid of cleaning the mass air flow sensor. Its not a big deal Go to autozone and get a can of this: crcindustries.com/ei/product_detail.aspx?id=05110 Then follow the directions and you will be set. Try that and report back.
    – race fever
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 18:51

1 Answer 1


Check the idle air controller actuation and internals, it may be stuck in one position, or clogged.

If the IAC is stuck in an open position, it can recycle too much oxygen depleted exhaust to the intake and kill the engine. If clogged it can throw engine management out of wack. You'll find the IAC connecting the exhaust to the intake in some way, and it will have a control valve that is either vacuum or electrically actuated.

On review, partially clogged fuel injectors, or low fuel pressure can also cause your symptoms.

  • Can you help the OP understand what that is and why it's having an effect on their vehicle? Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:45

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