Check engine light blinking, motor shakes while idle or driving

Asked by Jul 17, 2012 at 08:53 AM about the 1997 Toyota Camry LE

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 97 Camry 4 cylinder. Last week while driving to work the check engine light came on and the engine
started vibrating, I could feel it in the steering wheel, after about 30 seconds it stopped and all seemed normal.
Leaving work I noticed that it had a really rough idle, drove it home and all the way home the check engine light
kept blinking and I noticed a loss in power while going up a hill. Seemed like it wasn't running on all 4 cylinders. It
smoothed out again close to home but when I pulled into garage and popped the hood the engine was shaking
badly and it sounded like it wanted to stall out. Checked the oil and it was a little low but still had plenty. Took it
to Autozone to have the codes checked and it said random misfire in cylinders, large vacuum leak, faulty maf/vaf
sensor (not sure what that is) large vacuum leak specific to cylinder, week/missing spark, plugged fuel injector,
engine mechanical fault ignition system fault cylinder 1 misfire detected, & cylinder 4 misfire detected. Was told
that it seemed to be a bad spark plug so I changed them out but the problem is still present. Changing plug
cables today but I'm sceptical that they are bad. Also, while the car is running I do hear an air leak coming from
somewhere but I can't find it. Any suggestions on what could be the problem? Biggest fear is that the engine has
gone bad, but I see no smoke from the exhaust. ???

5 Answers


The engine isn't bad, you said you replaced the plugs, but you should replace the wires and maybe the coils too. Your going to need to find the vacuum leak. With the engine running start moving hoses around to pinpoint the area and replace. It might also fix your MAF code as well. Start with the wires. Reset the computer, then if the problem is still there replace the coils. Then fix the vacuum leak.

10 of 10 people found this helpful.

You can test your vacuum and in doing so the condition of your engine. Hook a vacuum gauge up to manifold vacuum. You should get 17- 20 inches of vacuum depending on your elevation and the condition of engine. The needle should be steady and respond smoothly to movement of throttle. Here is a good reference for vacuum trouble shooting.......... You should get between 17-22 in. hg. depending on your elevation above 2000 feet MSL or mean sea level. To perform this test hook vacuum gauge directly to manifold vacuum. 1. Low steady needle usually indicates leaky intake, a leaky vacuum hose, late timing, or incorrect camshaft timing. 2. If reading is 3-8 inches low and fluctuates at that low reading suspect an intake manifold gasket leak at intake port or faulty injector. 3. If the needle has regular drops of about 2-4 in hg. at a steady rate the valves are probably leaking. (Perform a compression check). 4. An irregular drop or down flick of the needle can be caused by a sticking valve or an ignition misfire. 5. A rapid vibration of about four in hg. indicates worn valve guides. 6. Slight fluctuation of one inch or so indicates ignition problems. 7. Large fluctuation perform a compression check. 8. If needle moves slowly through a wide range check for PCV issues. Hope this gives you a good place to start and helps you figure it out. Best way to find a vacuum leak is to have engine running and using a can of starting fluid strategically spray short burst of starting fluid in areas of suspected vacuum leaks. When you notice an increase in rpm you have found the leak.

13 of 13 people found this helpful.

what fixed the problem?? I have the same problem.

30 of 30 people found this helpful.

97 Toyota Camry 4cyl. check engine light is on, the car runs fine no rough idle or anything. I have replaced the gas cap, PCV valve and also checked the EGR valve. I reset the computer and after I drive the car and it warms up good the check engine light comes back on. I reset the computer again and the same thing again. Auto Zone got a P0401 code. Could this still be the EGR Valve ? Any answers to this problem would be greatly appreciated.

8 of 8 people found this helpful.

how did you fix it

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

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