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Old 02-06-2014, 10:56 PM
 
Location: Medina, NY
5 posts, read 239,222 times
Reputation: 22

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Hi
I have a 2000 Oldsmobile Alero. She starts and runs great. She runs for short trips around town at 30 mph. However, three times on longer trips (one the car was definitely running at 55 mph with cruise control on) she just cut out. No warning...no chugging, hiccupping, bucking etc. She just quit. The first time my nephew was driving and she died. Some guy stopped and (I think) he blew air out of the gas lines. We put in dry gas. The next time same nephew took it was going about 40mph and decided to turn around because the winter storm had made the roads so bad...he just got turned around and she died. The third time, the mechanic at the shop took her for drive outside of town. He was going around 55 and decided to turn around...he went about 500 feet and she died! Because the check engine light isn't on...the machine won't read a problem. Besides dry gas, she has been given a full tune up including the fuel filter. The mechanic also exchanged the horn relay with another relay. I am afraid to drive this car right now because there is no definite problem. I've been told it could be: fuel pump, fuel injector, oxygen sensor, electrical...in short they don't know. My mechanic says if it was the fuel pump it would start maybe once after she died but not all the time like she does. Any help will be appreciated. I am 57 years old and not in the best of health and I live near Buffalo, NY so the weather isn't the greatest right now to get stranded. Thank you. Sincerely Helen
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Old 02-07-2014, 01:42 AM
 
Location: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
11,269 posts, read 12,474,250 times
Reputation: 13422
Do you lose power, or is it just the engine?

You could have a worn out ignition. Or a bad fuel pump. The security features may even be messing with it.
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Old 02-07-2014, 02:00 AM
 
Location: Phoenix Arizona
718 posts, read 1,474,001 times
Reputation: 1636
I had a 91 Honda Civic that did this exact same thing. It would just randomly shut off without any warning or any pattern. Took it to specialized Honda shop for diagnostic and they checked every sensor and component and never found anything wrong. Ended up selling it to the shop so they could use it for parts. Darn shame too since it was such an awesome little car.
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Old 02-07-2014, 06:10 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
28,382 posts, read 50,562,503 times
Reputation: 28610
While there could be many problems that can cause this, the most likely is the fuel pump, which doesn't set a code when it fails. I have had two other vehicles, most recently a 2003 Ranger that did the same thing, randomly dying, but would start back up until eventually it stayed dead. The new fuel pump solved the problem.
Replacement, with having to drain and drop the tank, was $500-600. With many pumps you can here them clicking when you first turn on the key in the morning, but they remain pressurized when you make short stops doing errands. If yours can be heard, next time it dies, have someone else turn the key on while you stand at the rear and listen. If you hear it clicking for several seconds that means the pump stopped and is re-establishing the pressure,
which would help verify it as the problem.
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Old 02-07-2014, 07:51 AM
 
8,305 posts, read 8,577,591 times
Reputation: 25923
I don't know how many miles are on this car, but I will suggest after 14 years that a car requires serious maintenance or replacement. You can keep trying to fix this car, but I suspect its days are numbered. I sympathize with the fact that getting even a working used car is expensive these days. However, a piece of machinery only lasts so long.
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Old 02-07-2014, 07:56 AM
 
2,341 posts, read 8,695,821 times
Reputation: 2040
It's a crap-shoot, but don't overlook the possibility that you might have a fuel pump relay that's getting a bit goofy.
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Old 02-07-2014, 10:03 AM
 
Location: U.S.A.
3,306 posts, read 9,006,224 times
Reputation: 2919
Hi OP. One important question, will the car restart after it dies? How soon after? If not, what does it take to get the vehicle restarted?

I am almost certain your GM vehicle utilizes the VATS key system. The key used to start your car will have a little "chip" or "pellet" in it that is towards the top of the key's cut out pattern. This is a safety device to prevent thieves from starting the car without the precise electrical response from that "pellet" (its really just a simple resistor). It is likely the contact to that resistor may be bad, it could be dirty, the key socket could be worn out such that a rattle or bump can cause contact to be lost. There could also be a bad contact further down the circuit if this system is actually the culprit.

If anything, have your mechanic (or dealership) investigate that aspect of the ignition/fueling system. The symptoms you describe exactly relate to problems with the VAT system. However, my initial question is an important one.
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Old 02-07-2014, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Inland Empire, WA
2,133 posts, read 1,687,690 times
Reputation: 1691
Crank shaft sensors often fail without triggering a code. That would be my first suspect. A failed/ing fuel pump does not cause a sudden and abrupt engine shut down as you described, the engine will cough and sputter, then shut down.
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Old 02-07-2014, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Cold Springs, NV
4,576 posts, read 9,073,320 times
Reputation: 4997
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lux Hauler View Post
Hi OP. One important question, will the car restart after it dies? How soon after? If not, what does it take to get the vehicle restarted?

I am almost certain your GM vehicle utilizes the VATS key system. The key used to start your car will have a little "chip" or "pellet" in it that is towards the top of the key's cut out pattern. This is a safety device to prevent thieves from starting the car without the precise electrical response from that "pellet" (its really just a simple resistor). It is likely the contact to that resistor may be bad, it could be dirty, the key socket could be worn out such that a rattle or bump can cause contact to be lost. There could also be a bad contact further down the circuit if this system is actually the culprit.

If anything, have your mechanic (or dealership) investigate that aspect of the ignition/fueling system. The symptoms you describe exactly relate to problems with the VAT system. However, my initial question is an important one.
VATS is a simple resistance value check prior to start, and once authorized is done. It will never shut the vehicle down once started.

To the op.
A bad injector going short to ground can the injector driver to overheat causing said shut down. Won't restart until driver cools. Suggest ohming injectors for equal value somewhere between 12 to 16 and not to vary more than .5.
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Old 02-07-2014, 11:14 AM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,091,437 times
Reputation: 9065
My suspicion is of something in the engine electronics that is temperature-sensitive--i.e., a component that works fine until it reaches a certain temperature and then opens a circuit. As an example, this was a common problem on the 6.5 diesel GM pickups for a long time: The PMD (pump-mounted-driver) electronic unit was mounted right in the "V" of the engine. Quite often they would "cook" there--such that they worked fine until they reached a certain temperature, then a circuit would fail and that would kill the engine. After the engine cooled (and the PMD unit with it), the truck would start again. It could be very difficult to diagnose because the failure was dependent on both the engine temperature and the outside temperature. Both had to get warm enough to cause the PMD to fail. I had one of these trucks. I bought it used during the winter--it ran fine until summer when is started dying all the time. The GM mechanics could never find anything until I demanded that one of their mechanics use the truck to commute back and forth to work (despite the fact that PMD failures were well-known to just about every mechanic that worked on the trucks). On the first hot afternoon that he drove the truck home--boom!, it died. They replaced the PMD unit with a new one and put an aluminum heat-sink under it to dissipate the heat (GM even paid for it). I drove that pickup another 12 years and never had a problem. Moral there: once the problem is diagnosed and repaired, it may never cause trouble again.
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