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Q: car stalling,and running hot and idling up high. 1996 Toyota Camry

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My car is stalling and idling up, and running hot and then it will shut off when it cools off it will start back

Hello. If your car is running hot, this needs to be addressed first. If there are other problems with your car, you can’t diagnose them without being able to run the motor without overheating. If it is shutting off from running hot, you are risking and may already have damaged the head gasket. Your 2.2L Camry motor is particularly prone to this when they overheat.

With the car cold, make sure the cooling system in full. Look for any leaks. If the cooling system is full without any leaks. The next thing to suspect is the thermostat. Begin warming the car, watch the temperature gauge, and keep feeling the upper radiator hose. When it gets hot, the thermostat has opened. If the gauge shows your car is overheating, but the upper radiator hose isn’t hot, then you should begin by replacing the thermostat. Keep in mind you need to do this when the motor has cooled off enough so as to not burn you.

In the process of warming the car, if you have access to the equipment to do so, I would be checking for a head gasket failure. The best tool for doing this is a gas analyzer that can detect HC’s (hydrocarbons). Most people don’t have access to such a machine. So the next best tool is what is known as a block tester. You can purchase this at most auto parts stores. Be sure to follow the instructions closely.

If in the process of warming the car up, you don’t find a head gasket failure and you find you need a thermostat, then replace the stat. If the thermostat and the head gasket is good, the next thing to suspect is the radiator and the water pump. Remove a heater hose and start the car to test the water pump. You should see water flowing out of the disconnected hose with the motor running. If not, suspect the water pump.

Testing the radiator requires a thermostat that opens and a test drive around the block. You need to get air blowing through the radiator to perform this test accurately. After your trip around the block, stop, turn the motor off and feel with your hand along the radiator. It should be consistently hot at the top and progressively cooler as you move your hand to the bottom. If you feel any cold spots, you have a clogged radiator that should be replaced.

Once the cooling system is working properly, I suspect the reason for the stalling is your motor getting too hot. If it still stalling once you get the cooling system in order, you now have more to diagnose. If you would like to have this all taken care of for you, a certified pro from YourMechanic can inspect the overheating issue and pinpoint the faults.

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