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2005 Corolla S Stalling Serious Problem


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#1 Erik

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 12:41 AM

I need help bad. My 2005 Corolla S suddenly started running rough and stalling out the other day. I immediately took it to my Japanese mechanics and they told me it was the computer. They then told me to take it to Toyota since it was still under warranty. I took it to Toyota, they looked at it and said it was not the computer and they didn't know what it was, but for an additional $215 on top of the original Toyota $94 diagnose fee they would solve the problem. However they were sure it wouldn't be under warranty.

I am losing it because it is now costing me several days of work, lots of money and it seems no one knows what the hell if wrong.

Let me add my mechanic first thought it was the #3 coil so they replaced that. That wasn't it as they discovered and so they traced the gap in the electrical signal back to the computer. Does this make sense? Help

#2 fishexpo101

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 09:32 AM

Hello and Welcome to the forum. Several things could cause the car to stall - need a bit more info to help point you in the right direction.

There were several 2004-2006 Corollas that would be running one minutes then suddenly die, engine would crank but not fire - those were deemed ECM problems and most were replaced under warranty. You case is a little different - but may still be related to the ECM - all depends on what codes they pulled from the car.

Did this stalling set any CELs (Check Engine Lights)? Did they pull any codes from the ECM?

Describe the stalling:
- When does it do it? After sitting overnight, right after being warmed up, after a warm restart, at a stoplight, middle of a turn, etc.?
- How does it stall? Like a mis-fire (engine stumbles when you accelerate)? Start the car up and it cannot hold an idle? Car just refuses to hold an idle?
- Have you tried shifting the car into neutral when the stalling happens? Does it still stall if you add gas gradually? Does it still stall if you have the A/C or defrost running?

Why did your mechanic think it was the one coil? Was it damaged (burned) or was the plug fouled. If the coil is not getting any signal at all from the ECM - you have a very good chance that one of the wires either broke or is shorted out. This will definitely set a misfire code. Your mechanic should be able to back probe the ECM and determine if there is no signal from the ECM to igniter. If they did that and know for sure it is the ECM - you'll have to fight the dealership on the additional cost. Find out what the extra cost entails and why they think a repair would not be covered under warranty.

Electrical issues are tough to diagnose and in the case of warranty work, suspect to be covered. If you recently had any audio upgrades, new alarm system / remote start installed, or other electrical work - possible that one of the wires in the main bundle got the insulation scratched off or damaged in some manner. Good Luck.

#3 Erik

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 10:18 AM

Hello and Welcome to the forum. Several things could cause the car to stall - need a bit more info to help point you in the right direction.

There were several 2004-2006 Corollas that would be running one minutes then suddenly die, engine would crank but not fire - those were deemed ECM problems and most were replaced under warranty. You case is a little different - but may still be related to the ECM - all depends on what codes they pulled from the car.

Did this stalling set any CELs (Check Engine Lights)? Did they pull any codes from the ECM?

Describe the stalling:
- When does it do it? After sitting overnight, right after being warmed up, after a warm restart, at a stoplight, middle of a turn, etc.?
- How does it stall? Like a mis-fire (engine stumbles when you accelerate)? Start the car up and it cannot hold an idle? Car just refuses to hold an idle?
- Have you tried shifting the car into neutral when the stalling happens? Does it still stall if you add gas gradually? Does it still stall if you have the A/C or defrost running?

Why did your mechanic think it was the one coil? Was it damaged (burned) or was the plug fouled. If the coil is not getting any signal at all from the ECM - you have a very good chance that one of the wires either broke or is shorted out. This will definitely set a misfire code. Your mechanic should be able to back probe the ECM and determine if there is no signal from the ECM to igniter. If they did that and know for sure it is the ECM - you'll have to fight the dealership on the additional cost. Find out what the extra cost entails and why they think a repair would not be covered under warranty.

Electrical issues are tough to diagnose and in the case of warranty work, suspect to be covered. If you recently had any audio upgrades, new alarm system / remote start installed, or other electrical work - possible that one of the wires in the main bundle got the insulation scratched off or damaged in some manner. Good Luck.



Fish, thank you for responding so fast. First, I have never done any modifications to the car, not even the stereo. Second, the check engine light did come on as soon as the first problem occured. It will start for a a few sec, but as soon as I put it in gear from park or neutral, it wants to stall. If I start it up and let it go into idle it stalls. Before actually stalling it runs like it is misfiring. If I step on the accelerator it seems to fire properly, but will eventually, a after a few seconds, it will stall.

Ok, it seems they didn't replace the coil. They did in the diagnosis to track the problem. They didn't write the code down unless it is p0353?

I don't trust the dealership at all. My car has 79k miles on it and the warranty expires at 80k. I think they are just trying to run out the clock. If it is the ECM can I sue them since it is under warranty? This is my only car and these repairs are going to wipe out the little savings I have.

I appreciate your help. Can I ask are you a mechanic?

#4 fishexpo101

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 10:51 AM

I'm not a mechanic, in the career sense, but I am a car enthusiast - a bona fide gear head. Grew up spending some time around in my Dad's speed shop - so I'm familar with a wrench, I do all the work on my cars myself. If I can't figure it out or need help - I ping on the guys on this forum.

Hmm. A P0353 code is "Ignition Coil C Primary/Secondary Circuit Malfunction" - could be why they questioned the 3rd coil on plug unit. But my feeling is that this is not the true culprit but may be a sensor "glitch" or an unrelated affect of some underlying problem. The stumbling/stalling issue could still be related to that cylinder. One way to tell is to pull the spark plugs and "read" them. Visually noting if the plug looks "wet" or has heavy deposits on it. They should have double checked the gap of all the plugs and read them as part of the diagnostic process.

Unfortunantly, there are literally dozens of systems that could cause your stalling issue. The ECM is definitely one of them - since the problem happened suddenly, this makes it more likely. If the dealership trying to run the clock out on you to get out of a warranty claim - it is possible. But since you already have paperwork from the initial diagnostics with the dealership. Even if you run past the warranty and it is determined that the ECM was truely at fault - you can still get relief from Toyota Corporate (about 9/10 times they will allow the part under warranty). But I don't like to play the odds - so I would escalate this to the service manager, then to the owner, then to Toyota Corporate. Sueing or threating to sue them won't do squat - if anything, make them more resistant to do any work on the car. You want the problem resolved - don't want to make things worse.

Some possible culprits are the MAF/IAT sensor in the airbox - this sensor measures the amount of air passing by it as well as air temperature. If this sensor is faulty - it will definitely cause the car to stall immediately. Another would be a clogged PCV or leaky vacuum - these would also cause a rough running engine and stalling. A faulty or dying fuel pump, bad fuel pressure regulator could also be an issue. Any number of electrical sensors in and around the engine could also cause issues - from a bad voltage regulator in the alternator to poor chassis grounds to power issues to coils and injectors.

#5 Erik

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 11:52 AM

I'm not a mechanic, in the career sense, but I am a car enthusiast - a bona fide gear head. Grew up spending some time around in my Dad's speed shop - so I'm familar with a wrench, I do all the work on my cars myself. If I can't figure it out or need help - I ping on the guys on this forum.

Hmm. A P0353 code is "Ignition Coil C Primary/Secondary Circuit Malfunction" - could be why they questioned the 3rd coil on plug unit. But my feeling is that this is not the true culprit but may be a sensor "glitch" or an unrelated affect of some underlying problem. The stumbling/stalling issue could still be related to that cylinder. One way to tell is to pull the spark plugs and "read" them. Visually noting if the plug looks "wet" or has heavy deposits on it. They should have double checked the gap of all the plugs and read them as part of the diagnostic process.

Unfortunantly, there are literally dozens of systems that could cause your stalling issue. The ECM is definitely one of them - since the problem happened suddenly, this makes it more likely. If the dealership trying to run the clock out on you to get out of a warranty claim - it is possible. But since you already have paperwork from the initial diagnostics with the dealership. Even if you run past the warranty and it is determined that the ECM was truely at fault - you can still get relief from Toyota Corporate (about 9/10 times they will allow the part under warranty). But I don't like to play the odds - so I would escalate this to the service manager, then to the owner, then to Toyota Corporate. Sueing or threating to sue them won't do squat - if anything, make them more resistant to do any work on the car. You want the problem resolved - don't want to make things worse.

Some possible culprits are the MAF/IAT sensor in the airbox - this sensor measures the amount of air passing by it as well as air temperature. If this sensor is faulty - it will definitely cause the car to stall immediately. Another would be a clogged PCV or leaky vacuum - these would also cause a rough running engine and stalling. A faulty or dying fuel pump, bad fuel pressure regulator could also be an issue. Any number of electrical sensors in and around the engine could also cause issues - from a bad voltage regulator in the alternator to poor chassis grounds to power issues to coils and injectors.



I really appreciate your help. I remember the good ole days when engines we simple to work on. When something like this was just a clogged fuel filter, a bad plug or distributor. Now even the cetified mechanics can't figure out the problem without charging you an arm and a leg.

I'm going to have my car towed back to my mechanic and they are going to do another, full diagnostic. So if it is one of the above mentioned problems, please don't let it be the $1,200 fuel pump, they will figure it out.

Oh the dealership I took my car to is not my original dealership. It's just the closest so maybe that is why they don't care to give me an honest answer?

#6 fishexpo101

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 12:10 PM

Yeah, that is the biggest complaint of most smaller independent shops - needing so much proprietory software and sometimes hardware to properly diagnose a potentially simple issue. Nearly long gone are the days of smacking stuff with a hammer or even have user serviceable parts. Good example are new BMW's - don't even have a dipstick - to find out exactly how much oil is in there, you have to drain it all out, measure it, then pour it back in - assuming you don't believe the engine computer.

Because you didn't buy it from that particular dealership, it is possible they are giving you the shoulder, but highly unlikely. Unless they have a history of shady, unscrupulous behavior - most dealerships will take any business they can get. I just wish the dealership's are able to just plug in a spare ECM and verify it if is or isn't the problem. That will rule out an ECM issue or not for certain. Also, don't hesitate to reset the ECM - might even go as far as completely removing power, reseating any connectors. Most cars nowadays are more computer than mechanic - might just need a "reboot" - can't hurt. Good Luck.

#7 Erik

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 11:49 PM

Yeah, that is the biggest complaint of most smaller independent shops - needing so much proprietory software and sometimes hardware to properly diagnose a potentially simple issue. Nearly long gone are the days of smacking stuff with a hammer or even have user serviceable parts. Good example are new BMW's - don't even have a dipstick - to find out exactly how much oil is in there, you have to drain it all out, measure it, then pour it back in - assuming you don't believe the engine computer.

Because you didn't buy it from that particular dealership, it is possible they are giving you the shoulder, but highly unlikely. Unless they have a history of shady, unscrupulous behavior - most dealerships will take any business they can get. I just wish the dealership's are able to just plug in a spare ECM and verify it if is or isn't the problem. That will rule out an ECM issue or not for certain. Also, don't hesitate to reset the ECM - might even go as far as completely removing power, reseating any connectors. Most cars nowadays are more computer than mechanic - might just need a "reboot" - can't hurt. Good Luck.


Ok Fish, my mechanics again say it is the computer. They bypassed the wiring harness and found it is not the harness. My mechanic showed me if he squeezes the computer the stalling begins. Also we found that the stalling begins after the car has warmed up. What do you think about this warming up development? I am probably going to go straight to Toyota customer service now and see if they will do anything.

#8 fishexpo101

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 11:01 AM

The warming up bit (stalling) might be related to the bad wiring/connections in the ECM. If you mechanic physically bumps the ECM under the glovebox or squeezes the ECM itself (must be a really strong guy, as this is nearly a solid chunk of aluminum) and the car stalls - that is definitely the engine computer at fault. Could be the wiring / connectors to the ECM as well - possible that the plug on the back of the ECM is faulty (part of the ECM body). All the boards are "potted" or screwed in securely and it is sealed, more or less, to protect it from moisture and EM interference. If something is rattling around in there (board, component, screws, etc.) and moves due to vibration or heat related expansion or contraction (edge connections, PCB traces, discrete components, ICs, etc.) - dealership will have to replace the ECM. That is covered under the federal emissions warranty - which I believe is 8years/80,000 miles.

Present your results from you own mechanics to the service manager. Explain that you already came in and had the car diagnosed at the dealership - hopefully the guys is smart enough / reasonable enough to put one and one together to get you a replacement computer. I can't guarantee that the dealership will not charge you another diagnostic fee - but you may be able to work that out with the service manager / owner of the dealership. Escalate the problem to Toyota Corporate if needed, send them copies of the work order if necessary. Keep your head level, don't blow your top (I sympathize, it will be hard - I've been down this road many times for different makes / circumstances) - keep at it until they resolve it to your satisfaction.

Good Luck.