Scary – Car shut off completely on highway

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I have seen similar posts but unfortunately no one responded to those. Hopefully I will have more luck…

My car is an automatic 1988 Delta 88 “Royal Broughman” Oldsmobile, 3.8 V6 engine.

About once per week for the past month my car has had trouble starting. It would only happen when the car had recently been driven – like parked at the mall for 1hour. Every other time it would start up just fine. I don’t even pretend to know much of anything about cars, but someone told me it sounded like it was getting gas but it wasn’t igniting. It would just “rev” and not start. Pushing the gas pedal down or pumping it had no effect at all. After a few attempts and “rest” periods, in about 10 minutes the car started fine like there was no problem.

Last night I had the scare of my life when I was going on the onramp of the highway. I was traveling at about 70 kms/hr and accelerating. I heard the car shift gears and then it completely shut off. I basically coasted to the side median on the momentum I had. I put the car in park and when I attempted to start it back up it wouldn’t. Same as above. Thankfully though it started up fine after 2 or 3 tries.

I’m just wondering if anyone out there could tell me what the possible problems could be. As my car is 16/17 years old, I don’t want to invest a whole lot of money into it. But I do love it a lot and would like to keep it for as long as possible. Before I take it in to a mechanic I’d like some idea of the costs and what the problem is so I don’t have that deer in the headlights look and get scammed.

Thanks to all who respond. If you need any further info please don’t hesitate to contact me.

posted by  libbybaby

I did a quick search of the Tech Service Bulletins for your vehicle and did not find anything specific to what you are describing. The only thing I found that was close was an intermittent connection between the male and female connectors on the ECM but I doubt that is your problem.

This is going to be a diagnostic repair more than anything else. It is going to take a technician a certain amount of time to find the problem and that will most likely be the bulk of your repair bill. The actual fixing of the problem will probably not be that much. There may even be a code set in the computer that will make the diagnosis much easier.

I would recommend taking it to a technician who is known for finding the problem instead of just throwing parts at the car. There is not much that anybody in this forum will be able to do on-line unless they have seen something similiar.

Good luck.

posted by  theman352001

Thanks so much for your reply. I have an awful track record of getting scammed at repair shops. How do I find a technician who will find the problem? The last time I went in for anything other than an oil change I got talked into "critical" repairs costing over $800. I only went in to have new tires put on and balanced and didn't notice any difference when they were done as I was having no problems before! I've been to several repair shops over the almost 7 years I have owned the car - both small independant and larger chains. I honestly think there is an "ok to scam" list out there with my name and picture on it.

I don't know if you are allowed to make recommendations here, but I'd love to know of an honest technician in the Toronto area that won't take advantage of my lack of knowledge of cars. (I guess I should have taken auto mechanics instead of typing in high school) :doh:

posted by  libbybaby

I actually took typing also so don't feel too bad. :laughing:

Anyway, you have already started trying to find a good tech. Start asking around. Talk to people you trust and see where they have had their cars fixed and whether they would recommend the tech.

You could also try some of the local auto parts stores and see if they would recommend someone. One thing you don't want to do is to tell them that you don't know anything about cars because that is just inviting trouble.

posted by  theman352001

I experienced a similar problem with a customers '91 LeSabre...same engine. After replacing the plugs, wires, coils, and interface we found that it was the cam check engine sounds like it would most likely be the cam or crank sensor...there are other possibilities but these seem the most likely given the symtoms you're experiencing. If i remember correctly, the cam sensor was a bitch to get any rate, good luck with it.

posted by  Sick88Tbird

sounds like fuel pump is cutting out

posted by  barretire

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