Q: every once in a while car really falters

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About 3-4 times in the last year, my car, which usually runs really well, starts to idle fast and make noise and when I press the gas, it won't accelerate properly. The first time this happened, I was in traffic for some time in hot Fl weather. I got it parked and then it did start again and I drove it to a garage and they found nothing wrong. Can't remember the second time, but the car did the same thing but recovered quickly and I didn't have to stop. I again asked and mechanics found nothing wrong. Third time I was again in traffic but not as hot or long as first time and car started doing this again and light was flashing and thought we'd have to go to a garage but car recovered again. This was about a week ago and it has been working fine since. However, most of the time, the service engine light is on. I also checked on this and the code indicated that it was not something major (and it's come on before) so I've let that be. Car tests fine but this is a problem! Thanks!

My car has 93000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hi there:

In most cases, the high idle issue you’re describing is caused by a vacuum leak. However, since the car typically recovers, it’s more likely that an electrical sensor or the harness attached to a mass air flow sensor or other component might be loose. You indicated that the error codes you see don’t seem to be major, but the truth is that every error code is triggered because the ECU has detected a failure of some sort. You might want to have a professional mechanic complete a check engine light inspection first, so they can download all trouble codes and determine why they are coming on; and what issues they might be causing.

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