A large vacuum leak can lean the air/fuel mixture out to such an extent that an engine will not idle at all. An EGR valve that is stuck open at idle can have the same effect as a vacuum leak. So too can a loose positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) hose, a leaky PCV valve or the wrong PCV valve (one that flows too much air for the application). If somebody replaced the PCV valve recently, they may have installed the wrong PCV valve. The rough idle in all of these cases is caused by "lean misfire." The fuel mixture is too lean to ignite reliably so it often misfires and fails to ignite at all. Lean misfire will show up as elevated hydrocarbon (HC) readings in the exhaust, which may be enough to cause a vehicle to fail an emissions test.
Dirty fuel injectors (cleaning the injectors often fixes this).
Bad MAP (manifold absolute pressure) sensor
Bad TPS (throttle position) sensor
Bad or dirty MAF (mass airflow) sensor
Low fuel pressure (leaky fuel pressure regulator or weak fuel pump)
Vacuum leaks (intake manifold, vacuum hoses, throttle body, EGR valve)
Bad gasoline (fuel contaminated with water or too much alcohol)
Sometimes, what feels like a hesitation is actually ignition misfire rather than lean misfire. The causes of ignition misfire may include:
Dirty or worn spark plugs
Bad plug wires
Weak ignition coil
Wet plug wires
Monday, June 8th, 2009 AT 4:07 PM