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2008 Corolla Stalls With No Trouble Code

by echerda, August 19, 2014

Just purchased a used 2008 Corolla with 59,000km on it. It is an automatic trans and the emblem on the back of the car has a 1.6 on it. I live and work in Tajikistan and I purchased this here. My first problem is that I can't find any information on the engine type in it via the VIN code. The VIN code is: JTDBZ42E3890--- with the last five digits being the identifier for this vehicle from the factory. The fifth place should be the engine code. I can't find anything on a "Z" engine.

The real problem is that it is stalling without any error code.

After we got it I checked it for any fault codes. It had a P0102: Mass or Volume Air Flow Circuit Low Input code in memory but no CEL. I cleared the code and it has stalled several times since then but without any CEL or further code.

When it stalls it is when you give it gas to accelerate from a stop or very slow speed. The engine runs smooth. It has no hesitation, no rough idle. When it stalls it is immediate and unexpected. The engine doesn't seem to have any power issues at high rpms. It accelerates nicely and the transmission up and downshifts smoothly.

I looked around and saw a TSB on 05-08 Corollas in the U.S. and a recall for stalling due to a bad ECMs. I don't know if this is related to that in any way. I can't find anything with the VIN code.

We took it to a mechanic today and he said the engine looks good and has no codes, which I had previously known with my code reader. He suggested changing the spark plugs and cleaning the injectors. Before I start throwing money at the car trying different things I wanted to see if any of you had any suggestions on where to start. With the P0102 should I try cleaning the MAF first? Would that give me the kind of issues that we are having without any rough idle or anything?

I appreciate any help you can give me.


Sounds like your car has the 3ZZ-FE 1.6L engine that is primarily found in the JDM markets. As for the ECM issue - unlikely your model has this, as this was mostly centered around very specific VINs on the 1ZZ-FE engines only.

Stalling/stumbling at off idle speeds sounds like it could be a possible MAF sensor or even TPS sensor issue. Since it doesn't through up a CEL every time, makes it an intermittent problem. As most of the time, to get a CEL, it has to fail a certain way (threshold) and a certain number of times.

There is a lot you can do without throwing money at the problem. Check for vacuum leaks, clean the MAF, clean the throttlebody, check for obviously loose or damaged wiring, vacuum hoses, etc. Couldn't hurt to pull the spark plugs and read the ends - don't replace unless they show obvious signs of damage or are excessively fouled. Assuming these are the original sparkplugs - under ideal conditions those particular plugs will be go for almost 192,000km.

Could be the air fuel sensor or even an electrical issue (ignition, charging system, etc.). Hard to say without being right there - but again, don't start swapping parts until you properly diagnose the issue. Swapping parts is a last resort, as you could easily mask an existing issue and may not completely solve it, replace the wrong part.

Ok, update...

I'm not sure if the stalling issue has been fixed yet or not, but today we discovered another problem that might be related. The radiator fan was only running when the A/C was on. After checking to see that the thermostat was working and checking fuses, and relays we thought the issue was the ECT. Running Torque on my phone and watching the temperature I could see it climbing as it should be but on both the phone and the gauge on the car you could see the temp jumping and dropping 10 degrees at times. The car never stalled today except once when we had it sitting in park at idle. We switched out the ECT today and now the fan is working as it should. I'm really hoping the ECT was shorting out and causing erratic spikes in sensed temperature and the computer was then incorrectly adjusting the fuel and that is what has been causing the stall issues.

I'll update again after we've driven it some more. Thank you again for your help. I hope this is resolved but if not then I'll be working through your suggestions.

A bad ECT could cause stalling, though it would be pretty remote. On some other cars, like VW, a bad ECT could cause a no-start condition. Don't think that will be the case with your 3ZZ-FE, but I'm also assuming that it acts like the 1ZZ-FE and 2ZZ-GE variants we have here in the US.

Another possibility that might be related is a bad crank sensor - for some reason, if the ECT sensor goes bad, the crank sensor also goes out. Not sure if they are on a common circuit, but happens too often to be coincidence.

In any case, see if the shop will let you keep the original ECT. Even if it is bad, how if went bad could go a long way in helping you diagnosis this.

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