Car quits when put into gear

downsouthOctober 17, 2005

The engine check came last month and we replaced an oxygen sensor. The light went out and stayed out for about a week, then came back on. We have driven it for about a month with the light on.

We were taking it to Toyota dealer in the morning because of the check engine light staying on. This morning when hubby was leaving for work the car quit every time he put it in gear (automatic, 98 Toyota Avalon). Any ideas what the problem is? Would this happen if we had another bad oxygen sensor? We were told this car has four of these things. What else could it be?

I hope we can get it started to get it to the dealership. A towing service is going to be about $80. The dealership is 30 mins. away but I don't think I would trust a local garage with this type problem.

Thanks, Dee

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Honestly, why would you care if a local garage worked on the car? You seem complacent enough to drive around with the 'check engine' light on for a month, anyway?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 3:26PM
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There are two possibilites that I know of that can cause your problem.

1. The grounding strap from the engine to frame is disconnected or broken. The ignition is completing its circuit through the park-neutal switch, thus the engine will start with the gear selector in park or neutral, but shuts off when any gear is selected. The park-neutral switch is opened when the transmission is put into any gear including reverse.

2. The lock-up clutch engages when it should not. However, this causes violent lurching and you did not mention this so I rule this out at this time.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 1:52AM
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In answer to your sarcasm, I fell and fractured my wrist in several places on Aug. 31 and I haven't driven at all since then. Next week I get my cast off so I asked my husband to start driving it some, so tomorrow he wanted to take it to the dealership. We were hoping I would be out of this long arm cast by now so we could leave the car and I could drive another car, so we would not have to sit at the dealership all day, as my husband just gets one day off a week. He prefers driving our Prizm to work because of better gas mileage due to the high price of gas. We also have a pickup which gets even worse gas mileage. I hope this answers your questions. Now can we get back to my question?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 2:07AM
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JemDandy, we must have been posting at about the same time, lol. it takes me a while to type with one hand. thanks for your reply. I will let hubby read it.

Formulaross, I should have stated in my first post that the car has "seldom" been driven in a month with the light on. The reason i'm not able to drive is my fingers and hand are swollen, I can't bend my fingers yet to even hold an apple so i can't hold the keys. Lastly, there is a liability risk driving while in a cast. If I was involved in a wreck, my insurance co. could deny the claim.

Hubby thinks it may be the battery, I hope he's right!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 3:17AM
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Can't be the battery or the car wouldn't turn over.If the battery was going dead the alternator would keep the car running.It would have to be the alternator going bad.That isn't the case with your symptons.I would have to agree with jem dandy.The lockup torque converter.If your hubby can disconnected the electrical plug-in from the transmission and it kept running while put it in the gears after it been disconnected then that is your problem.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 12:11PM
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You may well have something, ZincMan and welcome to the GardenWeb.....
I was thinking that the driver could race the engine and then pop it into gear - just to see if this extreme measure works...
I suspect the battery / charging system - these must be tested during the diagnosis..

When a car is placed into gear, the powerpack moves about some; I have heard of this movement causing problems, particularly if the mounts are too soft and the engine bay is either poorly designed or poorly maintained..
Hate to say this , but it is true,IMO, "poorly designed" does not apply to a Toyota...
The car is at age 7, even the replaced battery could be due and alternator brushes are usually good for 7 to 10 years.
I seem to replace these at the 100K miles mark on the Saab, Volvo, Honda, and VWs over the years....

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 4:32PM
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when the car is moving, is there any power Hp that is, problmes? since the car has been parked for so long, you may be having a fuel filter problem, or a catalitic converter problem. with either of theese problems, the car could start fine, but not have enough power to handle the TC load with out stalling at idle. it is also possible, that the fuel injectors are a little dirty, and they need to idle for quite a while before being put into gear. just a few things that could also cause the symptoms you describe.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 7:06PM
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Thought I would post what the problem was. We had to replace a second oxygen sensor and the idle control motor had to be replaced.

Thanks to everyone for your help.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 7:31PM
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