97 Chevy Lumina

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I have a 97 chevy lumina that is causing me major problems :cussing: . It will be driving just fine then all the sudden it's like something grabs it and is choking it and it sputters and jerks real hard and takes off again. Then it will die sometimes when it does this and it takes several times before it starts back up again???? What could this be???? :banghead:

posted by  merriman67

Does the check engine light ever come on? Does the problem tend to happen at any particular time (such as mainly during acceleration, or rather at a constant velocity)?

posted by  Macc

It does it at all different times, the service engine light never comes on. :doh:

posted by  merriman67

Does seem to be during acceleration, but can just be taking off to???? or going 60 mph????

posted by  merriman67

The jerking type motion makes me think it might be a problem with the Throttle Position Sensor. It is located on the throttle body right where the throttle plate is. There should be 3 wires going into it. Remove the connector to the sensor and attach an ohmeter to the center and one of the side wires of the sensor. Then when you steadily rotate the throttle plate by hand (or steadily press the gas pedal) the resistance reading should build up slowly and evenly as the pedal is slowly pressed slowly and evenly. Then attach the ohmeter to the same center wire and opposite wire and do the same. It should show a reverse but steady reading. If there are jumps in the resistance as you do this test then the TPS is likely bad..
When it dies sometimes is the car at idle (like at a light), or is at a moderate speed going down the road? Does the exhaust have a gas or rotten egg type smell to it? Does the car seem to be using more gas than ususal?

posted by  Macc

it does die when just sitting still or idleing, it will just die suddenly doesn't even sound like it's fixin to die, have noticed some rotten egg smell sometimes since it's been doing this??? I'll try what you said also and see what happens.

posted by  merriman67

I'm a dumb blonde, where is the throttle plate located approx. on my car. Know a little about vehicles, but mainly just learning as I go since my divorce 3 yrs. ago :ohcrap:

posted by  merriman67

If you follow the accelerator cable to the throttle body the throttle plate is just inside of the throttle body. If you remove the tube that goes from the air filter to the throttle body and look inside the throttle body you will see the throttle plate. Its the round plate in there that rotates as you press the gas pedal.

The first thing you probably should check is the vacuum hoses. Check them all over for any loose hoses or cracks etc. (vacuum leaks). A leak can often be heard as a sucking sound. Then check over the electrical connections at the various sensors. Look for loose connections, corrosion etc.. Also check over the connections at fuses and relays (particularly those that pertain to sensors etc.).

The MAF sensor is located just after the air filter on the air intake. You will see the wire harness attached to it. Start the car and let it warm up. Then tap the outside of the sensor area with an object and see if there is a noticeable change in the engine. If the sensor is bad often the engine will sputter or die.

The stalling at idle could also be a problem with the Idle Air Control Valve. Sometime they can get clogged with carbon deposits etc. and will cause the engine to stall at idle.

You could have an 02 sensor going bad. Watch your gas consumption. Some symptoms of this are; exhaust smells like gas or rotten eggs, and the car uses excessive gas.

posted by  Macc

it's really not nice to send someone on a snipe hunt for an imaginary maf sensor... :doh:

posted by  dodger65

Ok, I do not have an ohmeter but i'm going to go get one in a little while to check that. I checked for vacum hose leaks, don't see any, I check connections and don't see any loose or corroided. Checked fuses and relays seems to be fine.

This morning the car will crank but will not idle just dies suddenly, so can't let it warm up to check the MAF sensor???

Could not find where the idle air control valve is???? Would like to check it also. Do you think it could have anything to do with the fuel filter???

Anything else I could check???? Could it be anything to do with the fuel injectors or spark plugs or anything like that????

posted by  merriman67

Can someone please help me with this before I go absolutely crazy!!!!! :cussing: :banghead:

posted by  merriman67

dodger65 is right, that car doesn't have a maf it has a map sensor. For some reason I was thinking maf. It performs a similar function just by a different method. The fuel filter would cause it to stall at idle but would not not likely be the problem if you are driving along fine and then it suddenly stalls at cruising speed. If it hasn't been changed in a good while it would'nt hurt. Even though the engine light hasn't come on it might be a good idea to have it checked anyway to see if there are any codes (the check engine light might be burned out). Also, it is possible the fuel pump is starting to go. Might be a good idea to have the fuel pressure checked.

posted by  Macc

Checked the fuel pressure by pressing the valve when running and a stream of gasoline came shooting out, but will check the rest of what you said k....
Will let you know what happens....


Sheila :thumbs:

posted by  merriman67

you should really test it w/ a gauge. that's not a really solid indicator of good fuel pressure... ohm the injectors, too. if it's batch fired (i don't recall for a '97) then one shorted injector can kill it....

posted by  dodger65

anyone thought about plugs and wires ?
when was the last tune up???
whats the mileage ? 4 or 6 cylinder?
are the plug wires still the original if they are they will be numbered 1 to 6 (v6 model). the numbers will be on the wires themselves.
there was a mention of the fuel filter .when was the last time it was changed?

posted by  osborste

I haven't thought about plugs and wires. It's a 6 cy. and has 170,000 miles on the car. I will look to see if it's the original wires or not. I got the car last Oct. and I haven't had it tuned up. I know just a dumb woman huh?? LOL And not sure when the fuel filter has been changed if ever either???? But I will check these things also. TY


posted by  merriman67

OK!!! Here's something else that may help solve the problem. I got the car to crank today and my brother checked some fuses and plugs but he really doesn't know a lot about vehicles either. When I accelerate the gas while it's in park instead of holding a steady acceleration it revs up and down???? But I'm holding the gas pedal steady?????

what does that sound like to you guys????


posted by  merriman67

sounds like the rev limiter. i wouldn't worry about it... it's supposed to do it...

posted by  dodger65

Well when it's doing that is also when it will die????? Sure it's suspose to do that????


Takes a few times to get it cranked back up again afterwards

posted by  merriman67

it's supposed to do half of what you said. when you rev the engine in park, it will reach about 3000 rpm's then drop off til it hits about 2500, rev back up to 3000, down to 2500, etc...

you're saying that it's dying when you let off the gas, right? it's not supposed to do that. have you checked your fuel pressure or tried anything else yet?

posted by  dodger65

k, changed the fuel filter and the spark plugs still having the same problem. Yes it is dieing when I let off the gas????


posted by  merriman67

have you done a fuel pressure test yet? is there a loud sucking noise or whistle coming from the motor? maybe a vacuum line popped off, i would still say fuel pump pressure should be checked before going any further

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

what banff said... plus if your fuel pressure test indicates the pressure is ok, then take it by an auto parts store that will pull your codes for free (i.e. autozone) and tell us what codes come out of it... :thumbs:

posted by  dodger65

replace the fuel filter. I forgot what its called, but you can get it form autozone any store like that theres a fluid you dump in your gasloine that cleans out corrosion. Get that and a fuel filter. The fuel filter will be like 10 dollars, and the fluid will be like 4-5 dollars.

posted by  Do3r17

Have you had the catalytic converter checked lately? A bad cat also has a bad egg smell and dies alot until it kicks the bucket and then it won't start at all. Good luck. :2cents:

posted by  Grannie2

I have a 1998. Had some of the same things happening with mine.
Spent many $$$ on it with everyone I could find no luck fixing it. My gas cap just did pass inspection last week. So I just put a new gas cap on and the problum has been gone for a week now. It might help. Good luck.

posted by  spottydog

yeah that makes perfect sense... :screwy: :screwy: :banghead: :banghead: good luck 3 years ago...

posted by  dodger65

Right. I've heard of a check engine light coming on from a gas cap but never has it killed the engine. What's up with all the really old posts lately. People don't look at the dates?

posted by  DBain

that's part of it, and the fact is, i don't think i've seen any gas caps that are bad enough to make a car die while driving, especially when they test good...

posted by  dodger65

Unlike the other threads posted, my engine light DOES come on after running for about 3miles. After that, anytime I slow down or just let off the gas completely the car will die. The car did give off the rotten egg smell a while back but hasn't for a long time and I have noticed the gas mileage has decreased considerably.
Now bearing in mind, last winter, my car fishtailed off the road on packed ice. It's only since that happened that this problem started, I just assumed that had something to do with it.
I noticed these posts about similar problems and thought maybe someone can help before I spend a good but useless amount of money trying to figure it out :banghead: :cussing:

I appreciate any help

posted by  likwyd

get the codes scanned and we can go from there

posted by  dodger65

Hi- I stumbled upon your thread while looking up info for something going on with another one of my luminas (I own 3 luminas, a 97 & a 99 with 100,000 miles on each, and a 1998 with 236,000 miles -awesome cars if you take good care of them)
My 1998 lumina has the 3.1L (3100) v6, & it acted a lot like yours does when I bought it (up/down idle in park, idle surge when decellerating to a stop, surging/sputtering at cruise once-in-a-while). Some mechanics I knew told me its' idle was bouncing on the rev limiter too, and it probably was, but only because something else was broken, and everybody was stumped, so they sent me on a wild goose chase of filters, additives & all sorts of stuff. But I fixed the problem with one $25 part and an afternoon of diagnostic & installation time, & now the car runs like new.

First, check the engine for Vacuum leaks, (any time your idle goes nuts, start here). I'd look for any cracked vacuum tubes or cracked rubber caps. When I found one with cracks, I'd unplug it if possible & then plug it back in, (do this one end at a time, one tube at a time, and DO NOT unplug rubber tubes/hoses held on with clamps-check those tubes for cracks only) and make sure all the rubber tubes & caps are on tight & snug at both ends (loose fitting vacuum lines are a no-no), and then i would cover over any cracks I see in the rubber with vaseline & listen to the engine run, & see if the idle smoothed out, if it did, I would replace that cracked line or rubber cap.

That process is how I found the source of the crazy over-rev condition you spoke of, (it also explained some other crazy fuel starvation/engine surging issues I had too, & it was all because of this one $25 part)

On the fuel injector rail, (top of engine, toward front of car) tucked under the driver-side, front corner of the intake manifold, near the throttle body, is a small vacuum controlled fuel pressure regulator. It is a metal, vertical, cylindrical device about 1 1/2 inches tall, shaped like a miniature metal beer keg, with a vacuum line coming out the top end.

There is a vacuum diaphragm inside that device that got a hole in it from old age, and started sucking raw fuel into that vacuum line, and sent raw fuel through the "map sensor" on the back side of the intake manifold (the big flat 6 legged metal piece that says "3100 v6" or "3.1 Liter" or similar embossed across the top), and into the air intake system (obviously where raw fuel isnt supposed to go on a fuel injected car) this caused the car's computer to freak out, & thus, the car to have stumbling, surging, & crazy idle fits similar to what you are describing.

You will find if this is your problem when you remove the vacuum tube from it, and find fuel bubbling out of the metal hose connector.

After I replaced that pressure regulator, this 236,000 mile lumina has been running like a new car, & now my daughter proudly drives it all the time.

It is not easy for a newbie to change this little part, and it will require some specialized hand tools (flare-nut wrenches, etc) to change it, but it is not impossible for an average "Backyard mechanic" to do it. So if you see fuel coming out of that vacuum connection, I recommend you buy a new fuel regulator at your local parts store (make sure the part looks identical to the one on the car!), and then contact a buddy who works on cars for a hobby to change it or you if you are not mechanically inclined.

While you are welcome to call the dealer for a price quote to change this part, I'd suspect your local car dealer will probably charge you a fistfull of cash to do this job, just because it is technically considered part of your fuel injection system, and all the extra tests & stuff they will try to sell you on because you have a car thats over 10 years old. (dealers have lots of bills to pay too)

I hope this will help you-

posted by  Gordonian

I found that a test fix can be done quickly by switching the fuel pump relay wire harness to the air conditioner relay. Started and ran great! Will be changing relay shortly to see if problem returns. Hope not.

posted by  TrblShtr

Merriman76 >>> I also have a 97 chevy lumina and I love it ... my car did the very same thing and it was the #5 ignition coil ... the lumina has 3 double ignition coils and the best thing about it is YOU CAN DO IT YOURSELF it is so easy and I'm a female :) You don't have to buy all 3 ... just the one thats bad :) I sure hope this helps you. I'm having a really big problem with mine right now and I have already spent $1,200 with different so called mechanics, shops etc ... they saw me coming :( Well I just found a great mechanic and he told me whats wrong with my car after 6 months of trying, $1,200 later and all it is was a transmission vacuum modulator AND I'M CHANGING IT MYSELF ... and I could of saved myself $1,200. So don't go believe everyone you talk to because I didn't realize just how many cheats there really are ... and another piece of advice ... when I find out something is wrong with my car I go to youtube.com ... find out how hard it is to do by watching the video (just find a good one) then go do it yourself ... this has saved me tons of money believe it or not :)

Michnikats   10 Dec 2012 06:23

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