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Idle surging camry 3SFE

Mon May 13, 2013 6:22 pm

Hi,I have a problem which I cannot figure out at all. I have a 1988 camry 5 speed all trac of course with over 200k miles on it. I bought this car from Granby, CO for cheap, running, elevation about 8000 ft. I had the chance to see how it drove with the seller behind the wheel because we were trying to find a bank to make the money transfer. Anyway, I’ve notice that it smoked a lot from the exhaust when standing still at a light or stop. Brought it back to Pueblo, CO elevation about 4600 ft. It ran with no problems except the smoking for a few days. Than one time I was at a light and it started idle surging. Annoyed I turned the engine off and tried to start it again but it struggled to restart, had to crank it a few times. At first I wasn't concerned about it because i thought the ecu was getting use to the lower atmosphere. Then i had it shipped to long beach CA elevation 0 to 100 ft. It started surging a lot more often. The surge never happens at cold start only happens when at normal operating temperature. It happens randomly, no tach, but I hear the rpm go up and down, which unfortunately results to burning a lot oil at stops. After about a minute or a few it will go back to normal idle. Usually after driving on the highway for while it wont surge at all. But its getting worse. Now it just idles high. When im gear driving on the street, I literally do not have to keep my foot on the gas to keep going like Im on cruise control which doesn't work.

What I've done so far to try to fix this, was cleaned the IACV completely. I took it apart down to where the electric motor that drives it and the back plates. Also swapped and readjusted the tps, checked for vacuum leaks. Cleaned the throttle body. Cleaned out the egr valve, it was clogged really bad. Checked the spark plugs and wires, some oil deposits on the plugs. Also noted that idle screw was closed all the way before I touched it. Driveablility is medium, sometimes during or after the surging, while moving from a stop, the engine will cut out like fuel cut, a nasty jolt.
Also some hesitation while shifting but that may be the crazy cruise/throttle cable setup lagging not sure.
After all that still the same results.
I'm going to try to replace the IACV motor with another to see if that works. But doubt since I unplugged it a couple times while engine was surging, rpm did drop but the surging did continued at lower rpm. Also did the T to E1 jump to see if the idle goes up or 5 secs and then back down, it does.
No codes.
Very poor MPG about 240 miles a tank
compression numbers measured in Pueblo, CO
1. 95 psi
2. 115 psi
3. 120 psi
4. 115 psi
I am completely stumped over this. I have dealt with this situation on many other cars but never this complicated. I have been diagnosing the problem the entire week while fixing other things on this car.
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Re: Idle surging camry 3SFE

Mon May 13, 2013 6:36 pm

is your coolant filled in the rad?...have you changed you coolant sensor?

dont ask why im asking just check these. i know it sounds simple but ive had the same problem and my coolant was low. so it was making the idle go up, shitty gas mileage and all.

Re: Idle surging camry 3SFE

Mon May 13, 2013 6:42 pm

The coolant level is full and the overflow is at the full mark as well but I have looked at the temp sensors. Kind of over looked them because when I unplug the one near the water pump fans kick on. But I'll check on those now.

Re: Idle surging camry 3SFE

Mon May 13, 2013 10:20 pm

Ok so I checked the all of the temp sensors and switches all were functioning except the brown one on the side facing horizontal was not in spec with the others.

While the other ones were somewhere between 500 to 700 ohms, this was only 052 on a 2000 ohms setting of my DMM. Also I've checked that the sensors were getting power from the ECU. They all were except for the brown one which I'm not sure if its supposed to get power. :shrug: I've checked at the connector and the ECU itself (I think) no voltage reading present. But when I had that sensor unplugged, there was a code. I do not have a manual but I just ordered one so hopefully that will give me some insight this on problem.

Re: Idle surging camry 3SFE

Mon May 13, 2013 11:12 pm

well i hope it helps with the problems....its was weird for me to find that out when i was having the problem myself.

Re: Idle surging camry 3SFE

Mon May 13, 2013 11:32 pm

Those compression numbers are a bit low and uneven, but probably passable for now.

What's the condition of the rest of the ignition system? The 3s-fe really likes to go through ignition coils if there is any oil leak inside the distributor.

Oh, and check out Toyotanation.com in the 2nd gen Camry section - there's a number of guys there that can also help out.


Re: Idle surging camry 3SFE

Tue May 14, 2013 10:57 pm


I've read about the throttle body not working on some situations. but I'm not sure that is it on this one but I'll keep an open mind.

Today the car has pissed me off, when I was at a light I started to move from a dead stop then all of sudden the engine losses power, the more throttle I give the more the engine dies. It began to jerk the car around in the middle of the intersection. Which was very uncomfortable because of bad motor mounts. Frustrated I pulled into a alley way to assess the problem. I found that the tps had lost it cover but I doubt that the problem, either way I had a spare cover. It still kept surging and now surges all the time at normal engine temp. Rpm keeps going up and down and its pace has gotten faster. I was tinkering around the engine bay to see what went, couldn't find anything. After about 15 mins or so whiling messing with the tps I got throttle back was able to drive back home.

I went to the junk today to compare that brown coolant sensor to about 5 or 6 other camry's with the 3sfe and they were the same Ohms when cold as the one on my car.

Hope someone can shed some light on this.

I have checked the AFM for specs


Using my DMM at 2000 ohms
VS-E2 436
VC-E2 280
THA-E2 1639
FC-E1 infinity
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