Car Engine Dies While Driving Sometime

car dies while drivingI drive a Oldsmobile Alero and sometimes it does good driving, but twice so far when I was driving it, it shut itself down completely.

I took it to the dealer and they replaced the anti-theft system in may when it shut down the first time. After that was replaced they said that they could not find anything else possibly wrong with it and sent me home with it.

It went well since then, but today I had only gotten 200 feet from my house and it shut down again. I pushed it into a nearby driveway and I started back up.

I don’t know a lot about cars but I do know that it shouldn’t shut itself off. could you possibly tell me what is wrong with it?

Hey there

These types of intermittent problems are a nightmare to diagnose. This could be MANY things, a few items that tend to fail more often that others and that can produce the symptom you have are:

1. bad crankshaft position sensor (lack of spark)
2. bad camshaft position sensor (lack of spark)
3. bad fuel pump (lack of fuel pressure)
4. bad ignition coil/module (lack of spark)
5. bad ignition switch (lack of spark)
6. dirty throttle body (causes rough idle, dies at stops complaints)

Here is more information on the crankshaft position sensor that should be helpful to you

You have to start ruling things out, which is not easy, but GUESSING at parts will cost you an arm and a leg and frustrate the heck out of you in the process.

Catching this problem in the act with some test equipment hooked up is going to be the real challenge. Testing the items I listed above when the car is running normally will not be a good test…as they will test OK. All the items listed above have a tendency to fail when they get HOT.

So you might have to drive the vehicle around awhile for it to “fail” again. If you can get your mechanic to hook up some test equipment and let you drive around that would be great.

In my shop, we would hook up a manual fuel pressure gauge to the engine then tape the gauge to the windshield and drive the vehicle around until it died, looking to see if we lost fuel pressure. This helps us rule out a fuel pump if pressure was steady.

A crankshaft position sensor is usually a pretty cheap guess once you have ruled out you are not having a lack of FUEL PRESSURE issue, then you must be loosing spark somehow. A crank sensor is needed to produce spark, and they are notorious for intermittent loss of spark complaints.

You might want to ask your mechanic to read your on board computer codes to see if any negative information was stored during the last cut off…there may or may not be any data to report but it would be a good starting point.

I would also get someone to bang on the bottom of the fuel tank with their fist or rubber hammer AS you crank the engine over. This can sometimes jump start a weak fuel pump. you should also hear a high pitched whine noise coming from the fuel tank when you turn the ignition key to the ON position. If you don’t hear that noise the fuel pump located in the fuel tank might not be working At least you could rule out one of the items above if you don’t have access to a fuel pressure gauge.

Make a note when the engine does die, what else was happening and what were you doing just prior. Does it die mostly at freeway speeds, low speeds, left turns, when sitting at a stop light etc. etc. this too will help narrow things done for the mechanic.

Talk to your local mechanic and tell them that the next time it dies you will come over immediately and let them hook up their scanner to read the computer codes. DO NOT turn off the engine, leave the vehicle running and tell them to read the codes. Turning the engine off can erase any code info that might be helpful.

Here is my video on cleaning a dirty throttle body, which should be part of routine maintenance anyway and might be worth doing just to rule it out.

Please share this with your friends,

Austin Davis

Posted in: Won't Start Issues

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