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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

I wonder whether anyone can help me. I have a 2004 model Toyota with the 1.8-litre VVT-i 1ZZ-FE engine, and it started stuttering under acceleration.
It sounds a little bit diesel-like and the idle sometimes seems to vary (going up and down). The stutter is quite bad at low revs, but goes away over 2800/3000 revs.

I have:
  • Replaced spark plugs
  • Replaced PCV valve
  • Replaced air filter
  • Cleaned MAF sensor (with MAF cleaner)

When replacing the spark plugs I found some oil in the wells, so I am currently waiting for a new valve cover gasket to stop the oil leak around the valve cover and spark plugs.

The weird thing is that it is throwing no trouble codes at all. No check engine light, nothing.

Would anyone have any idea what else I could try??

Thank you for reading this!
 

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Have you replaced the intake manifold gasket with the revised, orange colored gasket from Toyota? This needs to be done even if it doesn't resolve your issue. Usually you would get the P0171 error code for that, so it might not be the culprit, but just replace it anyway if you haven't already.



Also, when you cleaned the MAF sensor, did you only clean the bulb/wire and nothing else? If so, you didn't clean the MAF sensor. That's inside the plastic tube that sticks out of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Have you replaced the intake manifold gasket with the revised, orange colored gasket from Toyota? This needs to be done even if it doesn't resolve your issue. Usually you would get the P0171 error code for that, so it might not be the culprit, but just replace it anyway if you haven't already.

Also, when you cleaned the MAF sensor, did you only clean the bulb/wire and nothing else? If so, you didn't clean the MAF sensor. That's inside the plastic tube that sticks out of it.
Thanks for that, I will replace that gasket too. Real bummer there arent any codes!

Have you ever heard of vacuum leaks without throwing a code?

Yeah, I cleaned the inside as well, emptied a can into the thing, let it dry thoroughly and reinstalled it. If anything it got worse!
 

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Only other thing I can think of is the fuel injectors being clogged or otherwise compromised.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
He
Only other thing I can think of is the fuel injectors being clogged or otherwise compromised.
Hey thanks a lot for posting that part number of the gasket, saved me a bunch of time!

Would you know of a way to test the fuel injectors? And have you ever heard of them failing without throwing a code?

It really is fantastic to be part of a community like this, you have already saved me a whole bunch of worry and brain gridlock with your posts. Thanks again.
 

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No prob. Start with the gasket and then go from there. Perhaps check for other intake leaks. I've never had problems with my fuel injectors even with 374K miles, but yes, one could have FI problems even without a check engine light (CEL).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
No prob. Start with the gasket and then go from there. Perhaps check for other intake leaks. I've never had problems with my fuel injectors even with 374K miles, but yes, one could have FI problems even without a check engine light (CEL).
I see you have a Corrola with an insane amount of miles on it, on that note, how do you feel about replacing the in-tank fuel filter? When I bought mine it had all of its service stamps, but the last bunch turned out to belong to a fake/defunct garage, so I am just replacing filters etc just in case. Would you recommend replacing the fuel filter?
It's got about 200km on the clock. (125.000 miles)
 

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I've never replaced mine. I see no need unless it's giving you problems, like bucking. If the car has ever sat for a long time not being used (like for a year or two or longer) or for whatever reason had a bunch of dirt or rust in the gas tank, then yes I would change the filter.
 

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Throw a can of Seafoam in your fuel tank (half full or more) and maybe even 6-8 oz of Marvel Mystery Oil. This will clean and lubricate your fuel system. Maybe try using some higher octane supreme fuel , to rule out bad fuel.
Most people wait until their car starts to act funny, when doing simple preventative maintenance prevents most of the problems many people have.
 

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They always told us the in-tank filter was self-cleaning. I don't know how, but that's what they said. ? But if the fuel filter were clogged, your stuttering would worsen with RPM, not get better. If it is better with RPM, it is unlikely to be fuel related. Even so, nothing stated above would be detrimental. With it sounding "a little bit diesel-like," you could have a defective VVTi gear. The best way to check for this or other problems is to get a tool to read the engine specs, like any good ELM327 adapter and the Torque Lite app. (Google it, or search ebay or amazon.) Then you can watch what is going on to help pin it down. With no codes, you have little else to look for. Does the MIL flash when it is stuttering?

Good luck on it.
 

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@petmeer
Based on symptoms described, start by replacing the Intake Manifold Gasket as shown here:

Like all have said, this is a known "flaw" with the 1zz engine and it's something that will eventually fail regardless.
Take your time and do a quality job, cleaning the mounting surface well and torquing the bolts properly..........
Let us know how you make out!
 
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Also: I don't know about the filter being "self-cleaning" (maybe?) but in my experience the filter doesn't need to be replaced under normal circumstances. Only once in my life have I ever had a car that needed the filter to be changed (not the kind of filter we have in the Gen 9 Corolla). It was a Plymouth Colt made by Mitsubishi (I still remember the TV commercial jingle "The Mitsubishi bridge from Japan to Dodge!"). The symptoms were really hard bucking when trying to accelerate. It's like it had gas for a second, then it was cut off for a second and back and forth like that. Is that what you're experiencing when you say "sputtering"? To me sputtering is more of a combustion problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've never replaced mine. I see no need unless it's giving you problems, like bucking. If the car has ever sat for a long time not being used (like for a year or two or longer) or for whatever reason had a bunch of dirt or rust in the gas tank, then yes I would change the filter.
I found the culprit while changing the valve cover gasket:
291358


That was a brand new spark plug a few weeks ago. I mustve somehow broken or damaged it while installing it. I did here a ticking sound, which I now realise mustve been the broken spark plug smashing up and down in its housing.

As you can see it appears that a piece of the ceramic is missing, so that either went through the engine or is still bouncing around in there. EEK!

On that note, would you be able to have a listen to the sound in this video and tell me whether that sound is the wonderful sound of Japanese engineered injectors merrily pulsing away, or the horrible, nay evil sound of a bent valve or worse from the bits of broken spark plug smashing through my poor engine?


I understand its difficult to say from a cellphone video in a supermarket carpark, but any guesses would be appreciated. This is the engine warmed up after replacing the plug.
 

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Won't be able to view the video until later, but whoaaaaaah!....what in heck happened to your spark plug? I didn't consider spark plugs since you said you just replaced them, but I did figure it was a combustion problem (spark plugs main part in that). I don't see how you installing the spark plug could result in that. Did it feel unusual when you installed that particular one?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Won't be able to view the video until later, but whoaaaaaah!....what in heck happened to your spark plug? I didn't consider spark plugs since you said you just replaced them, but I did figure it was a combustion problem (spark plugs main part in that). I don't see how you installing the spark plug could result in that. Did it feel unusual when you installed that particular one?
It was the very first set of spark plugs I installed. I am a complete novice, I did have a bit of problems getting the socket out, maybe I cracked it while trying to jiggle the socket out? I didnt use excessive force or anything... I now know to use the rubber insert only when taking them out, as mine is a bit tight and really, REALLY holds onto that spark plug. So I did spent 10 mins or so jiggling, turning and pulling to get the socket out, as the extension kept popping out of the socket.

The white part had completely separated from the housing containing the thread, so it could move up and down, which I think might be why it is so thoroughly destroyed. I hope I havent farked the engine!
 

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It was the very first set of spark plugs I installed. I am a complete novice, I did have a bit of problems getting the socket out, maybe I cracked it while trying to jiggle the socket out? I didnt use excessive force or anything... I now know to use the rubber insert only when taking them out, as mine is a bit tight and really, REALLY holds onto that spark plug. So I did spent 10 mins or so jiggling, turning and pulling to get the socket out, as the extension kept popping out of the socket.

The white part had completely separated from the housing containing the thread, so it could move up and down, which I think might be why it is so thoroughly destroyed. I hope I havent farked the engine!
Oh, I see...… Well, you can go to a junkyard and practice removing and installing them until you get a feel for it. Try it on a couple of different cars and you should have it down. You can get spark plug sockets that don't have any rubber holder in them, but are magnetic. I love mine because they work so well and I don't have to worry about that rubber piece dropping out or getting stuck in the spark plug chamber, or drying up after being several years old, etc.


Here's a tool that's helpful when you get something stuck in the spark plug chamber. It's helped me out before I got the magnetic socket and is also useful in a variety of situations. It's a good generic tool to bring to the junkyard, along with a paint can key and an adjustable wrench:


I don't know if you've cause damage to your engine. Did you look inside the combustion chamber to see if there was debris on top of the piston?

John. You are excellent at diagnosing cars. You hit his problem right on the head. A combustion problem.
Not in my view of myself. I can replace parts, but it takes knowledge and also problem solving cognitive skills to do diagnosis, and I have a long way to go in that department, but thanks for the accolade anyway.

What is farked the engine. I never heard of it.
It's just a euphemism for the F word, as he is avoiding being vulgar. He just means that he hopes he didn't cause damage to the engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Great idea to practice on junkyard stuff! I wouldve been much more confident had I thought of that.

I did try to look inside the chamber, but I couldnt see a thing, I would need some sort of endoscope I would imagine.

Anyway, as I am not going to remove the whole cylinder head, and the car is now running, I suppose I must just hope for the best!

Thanks you so much for your help and advice! On the weekend I will change that intake manifold gasket just in case. (and because I kinda enjoy fiddling with it now!)
 

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You can get a boroscope for less than $60 USD. I got one online for about $100 and I used it to take a look at the top of the piston after I had to chase the threads on one of the spark plug holes on my Corolla. Yep, with the camera I could see shavings on the top of the piston. I then used a brake bleeder attached to my air compressor to vacuum out all the shavings. The boroscope also helped me to see the back of the catalytic converter media, which can not be seen any other way.

Here's the one I got, and they have cheaper ones and other more expensive ones:


Also, I just watched the video with good headphones on. I really can't tell if that's excessive ticking or not, but I doubt you have bent valves. I imagine that would sound much worse, and might not even run at all in that case. Try putting a vacuum cleaner on top of the spark plug hole. Make a good seal so it can pick something up. I tried that before using my brake bleeder and air compressor and the vacuum cleaner was not able to pick up the metal shavings (aluminum, so I couldn't use a magnet) like the brake bleeder/compressor did. The vacuum might work for different debris that what I had. You can also try getting a rod and putting sticky tape on it. Stick it in the spark plug hole and see if you can pick up any broken pieces.
 
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