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OWNER: Possible cylinder head gasket failure or loose water pump impeller, or loose timing belt, 3.5 engine or 2.7 engine ?
Owner: Possible faults : Transmission / Torque Convertor control issue, Idle air control, Crank Sensor, low fuel pressure, dirty throttle body, the list goes on, - sorry, we test components and systems to find the solution, & we need the vehicle for that.If I had the vehicle here I would monitor the operating data with a scan tool & take a data movie with the problem happening, then graph it out to find the fault.
As you were advised: A failed timing belt is a good possibility, does it seem to be cranking over with a different sound ? like it is cranking too fast ?, if so, your Toyota has what is called an interference engine, which means when the timing belt fails, a high possibility of internal damage has resulted, co$ting several hundred dollars to repair. Of, course, other issues may be: failed fuel pump, failed fuel pump relay, failed ignition system component, wiring, or some other electrical or computer issue. The timing belt is one of the most overlooked, but very important, maintenance items which will bite the owner if not replaced in a timely manner.
Owner: Your vehicle needs to be examined by a good Doctor for a Physical !
Sorry Sir, A driveability issue described as such could be due to one of many possible faults, I would have to be clairvoyant to answer that without having the vehicle in the shop for analysis.
Is the check engine light on ? - if so, the code is ? Possibilities: insufficient fuel pressure, loose ground, disconnected or open coolant temp sensor,damaged wiring, faulty crank sensor or cam sensor, incorrect spark plug wire routing, vacuum leak, fouled spark plugs, faulty fuel pressure regulator, sorry, but many things can cause those symptoms.
Owner: And the code is ? - clean the throttle body, carefully !, with throttle body cleaner and a toothbrush, electronic throttles can be damaged with too much cleaner, if it should penetrate around the throttle shaft(s) ( no provision exists for idle adjustment, the pcm controls the idle speed, and does a fine job of it, provided there are no vacuum leaks and all sensors are in range ).
Owner: Your Sable can be repaired, more than likely without removing the head, with a thread insert as described to you, cost would depend on the offending plugs' location.
Owner: You may clear it with a Scan Tool, or, by disconnecting the NEGATIVE battery cable for 30 seconds, in which case you will lose your radio presets & engine idle & learned fuel adaptives, which is no big deal, Also, you radio may have a security code which has to be entered before it will work.
Owner, You are speaking of a Northstar 4.6 L V-8; which has a reputation for failed cylinder head gaskets, especially when overheated, also has a lot of crank sensor failures, A Scan tool needs to be used to check data, look for an RPM Signal when cranking, Also, check for coolant contamination in the engine oil, compression test, and fuel pressure should be tested with a GUAGE, not by how far it squirts.