Engine stalls / hesitations at idle and low acceleration
Model: 1999 Hyundai Elantra GLS 2.0l DOHC
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Here is a recall that may pertain to the problems you are having. Hope this helps. Recall Date: SEP 11, 2000 Model Affected: 1999 HYUNDAI ELANTRA Summary: VEHICLE DESCRIPTION: SOME SONATA VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH 2.5 LITER V-6 ENGINES AND ALL ELANTRA MODEL VEHICLES MAY HAVE EXPERIENCED INTERMITTENT LOW-SPEED ENGINE STALLING, WHICH COULD OCCUR IF THE MAF (MASS AIR FLOW) SENSOR ELECTRICAL SIGNAL IS INTERRUPTED AS A RESULT OF ENGINE VIBRATION TRANSMITTED TO THE MAF SENSOR CONNECTOR WIRING HARNESS. Consequence: THIS CONDITION CAN CAUSE THE ENGINE TO STALL, INCREASING THE RISK OF A CRASH. Remedy: DEALERS WILL RE-ROUTE THE MAF SENSOR CONNECTOR WIRING HARNESS. Potential Units Affected: 165977 Notes: HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY 039/040 Read more: http://www.automobilemag.com/am/1999/hyundai/elantra/recalls.html#ix zz2R6PjsP9M
@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.
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.
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 !!!!!
All what you have mentioned above....could any of those symptoms cause the engine light to appear?
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.
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
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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