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There are many things that can contribute to this problem. It sounds like it may be ignition related. Possibly an ignition control module or ignition coil. The check engine light coming on while driving is the key to finding the problem. The light comes on when the computer finds a problem and will then store it in its memory. Have the codes checked for what the computer has found to be at fault and with a little diagnostics, should lead you to the problem
this is the first thing i would do since it has not run for a long time.
1 make sure it has fuel, check filter, loosen the bolt securing the fuel line to the pump and see if fuel is coming out, if it does you have fuel in the injection pump. retighten.
2 loosen nuts on injection lines to injectors 4 if you have 4 cyl. eng.
and crank the engine (start) until you see fuel coming out from each line then re-tighten lightly. start the engine*, it may take a while for the engine to run if the glow plugs are not working properly. once the engine is running its time to bleed or purge air out of the line, to do this
loosen one at a time the nut you have re-tightened lightly until fuel and air come out, tighten when no visible air bubble only solid fuel stream. do this on the rest of the injectors, you will feel the engine run smooth.
*if there is no fuel coming out after continuous cranking the engine for 30 sec to a minute, injection pump may have a problem possibly the rotor vanes inside the pump is stuck due water in fuel and engine not running for a long time. you may have to have the injection pump overhauled and recalibrated.
You could sure be running on 3 pistons. Check spark plugs by removing one HT lead at a time with engine idling. One that's dead will not alter your idle speed when disconected. Replace bad plug and check the same cylinder again. If OK fine. If not check whether you are getting a spark to that plug and rectify. If you have both power and a good spark but still without power the check engine - valves and pistons.
Seems like the coolant temperature sensor is giving the computer erroneous readings, and it is not adjusting the fuel mixture properly for cold engine operations. You should have the check engine light on, indicating this malfunction. The idle fluctuations are normal. The engine is trying to die, from the improper cold mixture, and the computer (ECM), recognizing low idle speed, is sending it back up. Another possibilty is that the butterfly on the throttle body is not closing completely, to allow richer mixture needed for cold starts.
ok when the check engine light comes on that usually indicates a engine malfunction...what you can do is go to your local autozone and they can do an OBDII test for free..my bet says it is the cam or crank sensor.. DO NOT SHUT THE CAR OFF AT AUTOZONE..LOL