Car just stops

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My daughter was on her way back to college today and her car just stopped. It's old, 1987 Oldsmobile Toronado. It runs great - no noises, looks good and drives good. She was about 40 miles away from home and it just died while she was driving. All power was gone. So her boyfriend came over and we went to go get her. We thought it must be the battery so after a trip to Walmart we installed a new battery. It cranked right up without hesitation. So he got in it with her and we continued to drive towards her school. It went around twenty miles and did the same thing. Frustrated we just left it and dropped her off. On the way back (after about an hour) we went back to it and again it cranked right up, went around 30 miles and just quit. Anybody know or have any idea what would make a car do this? Any help is appreciated.

Thank you


posted by  valgail

Hi Valerie

I'm not an expert, but I would guess on the alternator. Especially if your battery is completely dead after a few miles.


posted by  Didlidi

Yah i was thinking it was that to, but i didnt wanna reccommend it after the other incident wit the 3.4L olds lol

posted by  speedy266

Not a lot of information here. People are leaning toward the alternator but you say that you let the car sit and it will start up again and you can drive it. That sounds to me like the battery is still charged (it doesn't just charge itself and you have not mentioned that you were charging it).

When you say all power is gone, what do you mean? All electrical power is gone? The car just does not run (no horsepower) but electrical stuff works? What is the temperature gauge doing before the car shuts down?

posted by  theman352001

Okay, I'm going into more detail since it actually happend to me this time. As per my first post, on Sunday after going about 40 - 50 miles it stopped. Put in new battery went another 20 miles - just stops. Left it there until this afternoon, got in it rode around town looking for an AutoZone to put a machine on it. They couldn't do it, so I decided to try to get it home. (This is about 80 miles from my house and I didn't want to pay a tow truck!) I drove between 55 - 60 mph with no radio or air conditioning. I got exactly 73 miles when the dash board blinks off (it is a all digital dash). It comes right back on at which point I get off the interstate I make it maybe a half mile and it just cuts off. I try to put it in park and crank it and nothing, not even clicking. Nothing is registering on the dash that's not normal. I was paying close attention to that all the way home. I got it pushed to a gas station a few feet away. By the tiime it is pushed to a stop I get in and turn the key, all the dash board lights come on, the car starts immediately. After about five minutes it quits again. I wait about twenty minutes - it starts again I proceed to drive out of the gas station when it dies again. Since it is getting close to 4:30 (rush hour around here) and I have to take a six-lane highway to get to mechanics, I decide to wait to later to come back and get it (after traffic dies down). At about 6:30 me and hubby go to where it is. It starts right up, I drive it to my mechanic about 20 miles away and I don't have a bit of trouble with it. When this happend the first time last Thursday, he put it on the machine and it said it was the mass air flow sensor, so he replaced it. So he was stunned when I called him and told him it happened again. In my lay man's opinion I believe there has got to be something getting hot and causing it to just shut down. But I don't know. I don't think it could be something too major since it drives real good until it just dies. I hope this answers some of your questions and Thanks soooo much for the replies. This is my daughter's car she drives to college about an 1 1/2 from our home and I need it to be reliable. She comes home on weekends but she doesn't need to get stranded up there. We are going to get her a new car but can't do that until a couple more months. So any thoughts are appreciated.

posted by  valgail

Does sound interesting. I have to agree with you that it sounds like an automatic breaker that trips when things get too hot and then resets itself. I am not aware of any of those type of breakers on a 87 Olds though.

You may want to check your main wire junction box (not correct terminology). It is where the positive wire from the battery connects with the wires that go into the wiring harness. It is usually a red plastic box that should flip open and has a stud inside where the wires are connected together. I would open that up, remove the wires, clean all the connectors and the stud and put it back together.

This is going to be a tough one to track down. I looked at some TSB's for your car and did not see anything similiar to what your experiencing.

posted by  theman352001

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