Engine stalls / hesitations at idle and low acceleration


Asked by hyundlesh Apr 20, 2013 at 09:44 PM about the 1999 Hyundai Elantra 4 Dr GLS Wagon

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Model: 1999 Hyundai Elantra GLS 2.0l DOHC
Odometer: 78,000
Recent work: replaced MAF with new, cleaned ignition plate, ran through 1 tank with
Techron fuel system cleaner.

The problem has a few variations:
- most often: you're cruising at 25-30, and the engine is doing little work; then, the
engine goes quiet, and the gas pedal stops producing power -- the car starts slowing
down, and soon after the engine shuts off
- less often: power cuts out as you're accelerating after being stopped at a signal, or as
you're going through a turn at low speed -- these are dangerous situations, because
you cannot maneuver until the engine restarts
- a couple of times: you've stopped at a signal, and the engine briefly runs rough or
even stops

Lately, the engine has been sounding smooth through all this, with the only symptoms
being the sudden loss of gas pedal response, the engine going quiet, and engine
shutoff soon after that.

Sometimes, but not always, one can recover from the problem by quickly pressing
down the gas. On a successful recovery, this is followed by a half-second of silence,
followed by a rev of the engine and a partial recovery of power. However, after
powering through such hiccups, the car is very prone to having more problems in the
next few minutes. Sometimes, such as in tight turns, it is too dangerous to try to
recover by rapid acceleration, and in these cases, the engine goes dead if not revved
soon after the hesitation.

In a recent instance, the car was repeatedly losing power over about 10 minutes:

1) While gradually accelerating into a left turn on a 4-lane road, after starting from a
signal. I was driving for about 3 minutes after having the car parked in a sunny spot on
a warm day for 2 hours. I pulled over into the left lane, turned off the engine, and
restarted the car. Sometimes, the problem goes away after such a treatment, but in
this case, it did not.

2) A minute or two later, I was accelerating from a signal, and midway through the
intersection, the car completely stopped responding to the gas pedal (I pumped it a few
times). I was trying to change into the right lane with the remaining 5-10mph of speed,
right after the light. Right-lane traffic was not letting me go, so I was basically
stopped... and then at one last desperate pump of the gas pedal, the engine revved
and recovered.

3) For the remainder of the drive, I tried to rev the engine to above 2500-3000rpm (hard
to say without an indicator) regularly, and the car did not stall, although it did seem a
bit iffy.

In another recent instance, I was about 20 minutes into looking for parking in a
crowded area (so lots of slow driving), in warm sunny weather, when the engine stalled
suddenly as I was making a slow right turn into a slight incline. It restarted with no
subsequent issues.

In another recent instance, the car was parked in 55 F weather, at night (no rain), for
about an hour after a 20-minute drive, and about 2 minutes into the return drive, it went
through a series of hesitations and near-stalls (saved by accelerating), until finally
coming to a dead stop on a stop sign. There were no further issues after re-starting the

On occasion, the problem happens after a cold start in the morning, but more
frequently (as described above) it happens after driving somewhere, and leaving the
car for a couple of hours. It has happened both in chilly weather and hot.

Despite all this, most of the time, the car runs smoothly, and several shops have
declined to look at it because they don't see any issues on casual examination. They
say: If I cannot see it, I cannot fix it. However, it does tend to happen at least every 30
miles, and sometimes much more frequently (practically every day for the past few

The first time the problem happened was several years ago, but then it did not recur for
2-3 years. It started in earnest, and has been gradually getting worse over the last
year. No check engine light or warning light is on, and the mechanics see no codes on
the computer.

There problem _might_ be more likely to occur on a nearly-empty tank. At any rate, in
the last 1.5 tanks of gas, all the major problems were happening when the tank was
under 1/4 full, with smaller hesitations and almost no stalls in the top 25% of the tank.
I am not sure if this effect is for real, or just a recent coincidence.

I would like a local mechanic to definitively fix the problem, because right now, driving
the car feels like playing Russian roulette -- you never know if you are going to cause
an accident by stalling out in a high-traffic area.

31 Answers



14 out of 14 people think this is helpful.

@dandyoun, thanks so much for the hint -- unfortunately, I've already called Hyundai, and they told me that both recall services for this vehicle had been done in 2000 / 2001. So, it's probably something else.


Might want to take a good look at the harness that was rerouted on the recall. What you are describing sounds a lot like what the recall was for.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Virginia Ellen

We are having the same problem with our 2003 Elantra. It can get terrible when it is hot, which it certainly is this week. Any ideas? We have had it to our mechanic multiple times and he has replaced various things. He recommended using high octane fuel, and that did help for a while. Then it seemed like perhaps it was a transmission issue, so we put some transmission fluid booster in, but now that it is so hot, the fuel and additives aren't enough.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

FINALLY !! I was going crazy with my moms n 2003 Elantra . It was the fuel injectors but they had too be removed and cleaned thoroughly. we didn't think it was that cause the dealer cleaned them but with a machine not manually. Car is running SUPER SMOOTH !!!!!

8 out of 8 people think this is helpful.

All what you have mentioned above....could any of those symptoms cause the engine light to appear?

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

The engine light doesn't go on when my car stalls it's happened quit a lot and even the dealership has no clue why. So far 1 accident and 2 times in the dealership due to stalling with no answer as to why yet.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Kenneth Cole

i have a 2001 Elantra doing the EXACT same thing. have replaced plugs and wires, coil pack, had the timing belt done several years ago - currently changing the camshaft sensor but don't have much faith in that

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

For the owner who originally posted this...did you ever figure out what the issue was? I have a 2013 Elantra Limited that is doing the same exact thing...we have noticed that it typically does not happen unless the range is under 60 miles so when the tank has about 2 gallons left. It almost always happens when making a right turn and sometimes when going on a straight course. Basically if you're coasting and then give the car gas to speed up it either hesitates or just completely dies...the car is at the dealership now and of course they have not been able to recreate the problem but it died on my daughter when she turned onto a main road just two miles from the dealership. Any suggestions? They haven't got a clue bcz the diagnostic computer can't figure it out for them. they had the car for 6 1/2 hours today.


No, we've never figured it out. The likeliest suspects would be in the fuel system: some of the injection machinery / sensors, the fuel pump, or something having to do with the gas tank / fuel filter / fuel supply. If it's definitely affected by how full the gas tank is, the pieces near the gas tank become the prime suspects: fuel pump, filter, and anything else that would be affected by the pressure diffierence between full and empty, increased amounts of dirt, increased supply variability due to fuel sloshing, etc. I *think* that the pressure past the fuel pump should be fairly independent from your fuel levels, but I'm not a mechanic. Given how new your car is, I would be pretty surprised if there is gunk in the gas tank, or issues with the fuel filter (unless somebody put a bunch of trash in your tank). Maybe it's a problem with a fuel pump, its wiring, or electronics? I didn't bother trying to replacing the fuel pump on the 1999 Elantra because with the high cost of labor around here, the cost of the repair would be over a third of the cost of the entire car :D With respect to the various sensors, I think we ruled out the MAF and its wiring harness. Several mechanics played with some of the other sensors as well, and did not find an issue.


Veester's answer about the fuel injectors seems like another possibility. Should be a lot less trouble than changing the fuel pump, so you could try that first :)

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Kenneth Cole

My issue was solved. Two fuel injectors needed to be replaced and the speed sensor was causing the stalling, which eventually led to the transmission going into 'limp mode' which is how we found out the sensor was bad.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Hey, we just got the 2013 Elantra Limited, which had the same exact problem. I'm her daughter. The guys at the dealership were thankfully able to recreate the problem multiple times. They found that it typically stalled when coasting straight and that the engine cuts out entirely more often when turning right and pressing the gas. They examined the fuel pump and found a crack in it. Since replacing the pump, the car has functioned perfectly fine, even after I attempted to make it stall or cut out multiple times while at a gallon of gas or less. When the gas runs low again, we will attempt to make the car stall to test that the problem is repaired. I will let you know if we find that there is still a problem.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Julia Alcala

I used lucas fuel injector cleaner and it worked, debri in gas tank when 1/4 of gas in tank. took a trip to NY and it ran fine last fill up was at 1/4 i think debri clogged it up again when got home it stalled, like yours. Charcoal canisters get clogged look into that as well.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
You think this is helpful.

B4 you do anything to your cars make sure you don't have gps tracker with stall meaning kill switch on it because I had reduce engine seed and my car did not wanna starts at times it would turn and turn and it would not start and when it start it would stall and turn off watch for these car financing scams and don't fall to such a victim pull that shit off.. i fix my problem with removing the gps tracker here's how. https://m.youtube.com/watch? v=jEWpb7xOAHI


OP? Has anyone checked your cat(s) could be broken down and clogging your exhaust and affecting back pressure which "could" cause all sorts of weird acceleration and low idle problems. Your car may have 2 cats as so does my 03. "Usually" a bad cat throws a CEL though? Just a thought

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
You think this is helpful.

Hi everyone. I recently purchased a 2014 Hyundai elantra limited and same exact thing is happening. cars pedal doesn't respond and car idles every time I get to a complete stop. the car has been at the delearship several of times and they do not have a clue of what the problem might be. I tried having Hyundai repurchased my car but they didn't, supposedly because they never duplicated the problem. at this point I don't know what to do. I need some help. please let me know if you guys were able to find the problem and get it fixed or any advise of the steps I should take. i'll really appreciate it.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Mine is 2001 elantra. Same problems. Mechanic replaced Crankshaft and camshaft sensors, but still the same problem. Now diagnosing speed sensor problems etc. I am at my limits with this car. Any help?

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

I have a 2007 Elantra that stalls occasionally when going at low speed such as preparing to turn or when going down a hill with very little or no throttle. The fuel pump and filter have been replaced. No engine light on beforehand and no codes. Temperature is not a factor. Dealer is stumped. Can you give any help?


I just purchased 2014 Elantra limited. I was on stop and go traffic on the freeway, certainly the car doesn't respond to gas pedal and the engine stopped. I was so panic, I put the gear back to park, turned off and on the car (keyless) several times then it turned on again. Is there a recall on this issue? I should purchase Toyota or Honda car instead, so disappointed in Hundai.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I have a 2010 Elantra Touring GLS, standard. My car just started doing this. I was in stop&go traffic on the freeway when it started dying, but it could be restarted. When I got off the freeway and was slowing to a light it stopped entirely and would not restart. after coasting down a hill and pulling over, I got it to restart but then it hovered around 1000rpm and just DIED. It wouldn't restart at all. By the time CAA got there, it started fine and stayed running fine. It has been at the dealer for days and of course, they cannot repeat the problem. I am having them look at everything listed here and hopefully they will find the problem. I have suspected the catalytic converter since the engine/exhaust started intermittently making loud noises at high speed/revs after gas tank fill... of course they never found an issue. I will post results if they find anything out.


2001 Elantra, same issue, Replaced speed sensors and fuel injectors, didn't solve the problem. My next step is to replace the fuel pump


2001 Elantra, same issue. Replacing speed sensors and fuel injectors didn't solve the problem. My next step is to replace the fuel pump


Hey guys, always look for the simple stuff. Inspect any and all vacuum lines for cracks or a hole on the underside of the line. I helped a friend with a 2000 or 2002 Elantra and from limited memory it was the catalytic converter. The new one only came with the manifold, but it seems like it wasn't really that expensive and the bonus points: I took the old cat converter to a recycler and got about $45 bones for it. by the way, no mechanic could figure it out and no codes. This fixed it.


Changed Catalytic converter and both O2 sensors, same problem. No cracked hoses, the only new thing is that the check engine light came on and the code translates to an open thermostat, the car is running on the cold side.


I have a 2014 Hyundai Tucson which I purchased in June 2014 and I've had it in the shop since I bought it off and on. I drive in for about 30 miles and it hesitates and skips some and I leave it parked from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00p.m. and anytime I get in it and get to a traffic light it idles down like it is going to cut off and stall out. At times it revs up like it is trying to go forward with my foot on the brake. It has surged when crossing 4 lanes because of this issue as well. Anyone else have this??


I purchased a 2002 Hyundai Elantra my issue started about 2 months ago. I would come to a stop and the car would start hesitating and sputtering and eventually stalls. Always restarted after a couple minutes. The issue got progressively worse. We changed the fuel pump assembly, fuel strainer, canister purge valve and new spark plugs. This corrected the issue for about 3 days. It started missing and progressively got worse again stalling and sputtering, always restarting until yesterday. It was having issues starting again, would start for a couple seconds and if I applied pressure on the gas pedal there was no response and it stalled the car. Start it again idled rough; step on the gas and it was like it was being choked out. Had an opposite effect when stepping on the gas, instead of the RPM increasing it decreased. Very frustrating as you just never knew when it was going to die. Now it sits, does anyone have any ideas of what could be wrong with it now? Tired of sinking money into parts when it is not correcting the issue. Any advice would help. ?????

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

This is driving me crazy, so far this is what I did Changed both O2 censors Changed both speed censors Changed Catalytic converter Change all four fuel injectors Changed fuel pump and filter None of the above helped, so I changed the idle controller and that made a big improvement but didn't solve the problem completely. so the issue has to do with lack of oxygen in the combustion chamber. Next and final step is to replace the vapor canister vent valve. BTW the check engine light is on complaining about the idle controller, the O2 sensor and the thermostat being stuck open.


The problem is the mass air flow meter, maybe this sensor is good but you need check wires from the sensor to the pcm. I hope this help.

Benjamin Chung

People; I know that there are at least 5 main potential problems which cause the symptoms of the car idling rough, surging, hesitating at acceleration, stalling on stop signs and intersections, no response on pedal. 1) Usually the main culprit is a very dirty carbonized throttle plate and throttle body. 2) the idle air control valve is dirty and carbonized which intermittently blocks the electrical signal from being transmitted to the OBD computer on the car for fuel trim command....causing the computer to go into absence of signal mode intermittently...causing the engine to stall or shut down or hesitate intermittently. 3) the fuel pressure at the injector rail is below recommended settings ( the car will run fine at low speeds although slowto respond....but does not respond at higher revs....car doesn't reach high speed- again this case is most likely a fuel pressure issue.)..4) MAFS mass air flow sensor is dirty......5) vacuum leak........................................folks I'd start with these issues absent OBD 2 codes to help. -Benjamin Chung


Also have the same problem and nothing seems to help. Now regretting ever buying a hyundai...

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

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