Why is my 1990 toyota corolla sputtering and hesitating all of a sudden? A/C on on 1990 Toyota Corolla

So, my car which I just put a new starter and radiator in decided it wants to have more problems and randomly decided today that it doesn't want to run properly. I went to pull out of the driveway and all of a sudden it starts shaking and sputtering almost the same sound as if your clugging along when your running out of gas..but I definitely wasn't. So just to be sure I drove down the street to the gas station...on my way there it randomly revs up, and hesitates a lot when your at a stop then go to speed up again. I filled it back to the top with gas which made no difference. This sputtering seems to be a lot worse when my air conditioning is on. it makes the whole car shake. we thought maybe a new fuel filter would fix it but I don't think it would rev up and idle fast if it wasn't getting enough gas...and the air conditioning part definitely has something else to it. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

by in Potwin, KS on April 21, 2013
3 answers 4 comments
ANSWER by on April 22, 2013
when was the last tune up?
COMMENT by on April 28, 2013
It has been well maintained. My grandpa and I do all the checks at home, but this time we just can't figure it out. We checked the distributor today...looked clean, no cracks. We have changed the PCV valve, no change. The car just randomly started with this a week ago, before that it was running really well. We have been messing with it all day, starting it stopping it, turning the air on and off. It seemed to be doing slightly better...and then when I went to turn around when the steering wheel got far enough over it started to sputter again...maybe something with power steering? It also usually is a little stiff when you first start the car up then quickly becomes easy to steer..I thought this was normal though since its so old. It definitely acts up more when we are traveling at low speeds and when the air is on. Any ideas are really appreciated. I'm a college girl and really can't afford to have a mechanic do all the "guess and checks" that we can do here at home. Thank you!
COMMENT by on May 03, 2013
Sorry for this late reply, the ignition coil inside the distributor has a common problem arcking to the dist. housing causing erratic performance or misfire. (Possible) Can remove dist. cap have someone spin engine, watch around the edge of dist. for any spark. Best to replace dist. assembly.
ANSWER by on April 22, 2013
Suspect distributor ASSEMBLY! Especially if it is the '4AFE' engine!!!
COMMENT by on April 28, 2013
Can you give me some more information about what you know with this type of engine? I do have the 4AFE engine so I'm very interested in the problems you have encountered with the distributor...that was our next "guess and check". We just changed the PCV valve...no difference...we cleaned out the manifold with "seafoam" brand cleaner because that was another idea given to us....again no difference. The engine starts up fine and without the A/C runs okay with the occasional hiccup and sputter/high rev randomly...but soon as the A/C comes on the car almost immediately starts to miss and sputter and rumble. The air by itself can be on, but the actual A/C button being pushed on seems to be the crucial factor. The car was working perfectly fine last week...it just randomly did this after a perfect drive to town, and then when I went to leave all of this occurred. I appreciate any extra information you can give!
ANSWER by on April 24, 2013
Leak in air intake......Mass-air-flow.........?
COMMENT by on April 28, 2013
We thought this could have been a problem as well...however we took off the air intake system, filter etc. and the car still did the same exact thing. I thought my MAF would be a more interesting piece, but it seems to be just a massive odd shaped tube with little extra features..not any electrical connections like most other cars...any other ideas?

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