By January 17, 20070 Comments Read More →

1996 Saturn 4DR

Reader Question I have a 1996 Saturn 4DR. It has around 120,000 miles on it. I have my oil changed every 3,000 miles and keep up with all the other maintenance.

My question is about my car cutting off. It started about 8 months ago. It cuts off when I take my foot off the gas and put it on the brake. When it started about 8 months ago, it only done it every couple of months, but recently it is doing it more often.

It seems to be when I am low on gas, between empty and1/8 of a tank. When it starts cutting off like that, I go ahead and fill up with gas. I keep thinking I got some bad gas, maybe water in it, and I cannot get it all to run out, because I fill it up before it gets completely empty.

I do not want to run out of gas and be stranded. I put the middle grade of gas in most of the time, because it does not want to start good on the lower grade, has been that way since I got it.

When I first bought it 9 years ago, every time I got gas at a certain gas station, it would cut off when I try to start it, so I quit getting gas there and have not had any more problems until recently.

And now when it cuts off, it sometimes shakes, Just started that 2 weeks ago. I can tell when it is gonna do it now, the steering gets tight. This is scary because when it happens I have no steering or brakes, if it tries to cut off before I completely stop.

Please help me, I hate to take it somewhere for them to try to figure out what it wrong with it, and charge me for all kind of things.

Thank You!


Hi Patty,

Thanks for your e-mail. If you came to my shop the first thing I would do is…talk to you about driving until your gas tank reaches almost empty or until your low fuel light comes on.

Dirt, sand, and moisture accumulate at the bottom of the fuel tank. When you run the tank down that low the delicate electric fuel pump inside the fuel tank sucks up that dirt and moisture and sends it to the engine.

There is an internal fuel filter on the bottom of the fuel pump and an external fuel filter designed to catch this dirt, sand, and moisture but the fuel pump still sucks up this debris and that is detrimental to the expense fuel pump.

Sooooooo, STOP running the fuel tank that low. Fill up when you have a 1/4 of a tank of fuel left to help prolong your fuel pump, fuel filter and engine life.

Ok, I would first want to look at the throttle body and the idle speed control motor and clean them as needed. A dirty throttle body can cause erratic idle, dying at slow speeds or idle, and slow longer cranking time starts.

Your mechanic can inspect these two items for you and clean them quickly and inexpensively and should be done periodically anyway as part of preventive maintenance.

I would also want to check your spark plugs and spark plug wires, fuel and air filter and see if a basic tune up is in order.

Keep me posted.

Austin Davis

Posted in: Running Problems

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