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Westbury Toyota mechanic diagnosing engine issue here on Long Island, NY.

Does My Toyota Have a Vacuum Engine Leak?

Posted at Fri, Jul 8, 2022 9:00 AM

Out of all the dashboard lights, the one that people fear the most is the check engine light. When it comes on, it can signify that any of a number of things have gone wrong, and figuring out just what could take the expertise and knowledge of a trained mechanic. While there are a number of different reasons the light has come on, there is one common malfunction that can lead to the check engine light coming on: An engine vacuum leak. To help you understand more about this, join our Westbury Toyota staff as we explore the particulars of this malfunction below.

Understanding the Causes of an Engine Vacuum Leak

When your Toyota is operating normally, air will flow to the engine through a part that is called the throttle body. As that air is flowing, your vehicle's mass air-flow sensor is continually measuring the amount of air that is reaching the engine. The engine control unit (also known as the ECU) then uses that information to figure out just how much fuel is needed to keep your vehicle going.

Digging a little deeper, an engine vacuum leak happens when additional air reaches the engine through the intake manifold, at the same time as the air coming in through the throttle body. When this happens, the oxygen sensor calculates the amount of oxygen contained in the exhaust gasses, and if the amount detected by the sensor is different than what is calculated by the mass air-flow sensor, it causes the check engine light to come on.

Indicators of an Engine Vacuum Leak

There are a number of symptoms your Toyota might display if it does in fact have an engine vacuum leak, and we have described them in detail here:

  • White or black colored exhaust: If the air to fuel ratio in your vehicle’s engine is incorrect, the resulting inefficient fuel combustion will often cause black or white smoke to be expelled in the exhaust.
  • Worsening fuel mileage: When the air to fuel ratio is off in the engine, it can lead to your vehicle requiring more fuel than it usually consumes. Given the current price of gas, this is obviously less than ideal.
  • Slow or jerky acceleration: If there is a vacuum engine leak, you may experience slow or jerky acceleration whenever you push down the gas pedal. This could be a sign that the air to fuel ratio in the engine is wrong.
  • High pitched squealing: When the engine keeps trying to pull air through a hose with a leak, it typically leads to a high-pitched squealing noise. Fortunately, this indicator is one of the easiest to notice.
  • Rough engine idling: If the engine vacuum leak is bad enough, the throttle body will not be able to maintain a steady idling speed. This results in rough idling.
  • The check engine light is on: If a vacuum engine leak is the problem, a code indicating lean fuel mixture will be stored in the ECU when the light comes on. A technician will be able to read that code when you take it in to get looked at and from there, get to work on fixing the problem.

Bring Your Toyota in for a Tune-Up

If your Toyota has been showing any of these indicators, you should book an appointment with us here at Westbury Toyota as quickly as possible. Our technicians will do a thorough inspection, diagnose the problem, and then get to work on correcting it. Preventative maintenance is always the best approach, so be sure to bring your Toyota in regularly to prevent any potential problems from manifesting into something bigger.

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