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Old 05-08-2021, 12:15 PM   #1
ampecsu
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Default Just died 5 times at stop lights...

...in the span of an hour of driving. Started again after a few minutes and each time after and before it ran like nothing was wrong.

what could the problem possibly be?

I dont know what got it back running, just time? or me messing with the spark plug wires on the coils.

like I said when it starts and runs its like there are no issues at all. Afraid to drive again for fear of getting stuck in the middle of traffic again.

1995 Saturn Sl2 233k manual. (i know...time to get rid of it)
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Old 05-08-2021, 12:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Is it dying while coming up to the stop light, or after idling at the stop light?

If it's while idling at the light:
Without doing any testing at all...I'd blame the crankshaft position sensor. Even after doing testing you're likely to need to replace it anyway, but then you'd be more sure of the money/time spent on it.

Try to get someone else to ride with you, or let it run/idle in the driveway until it dies with someone else around. Need them to turn the key to "start" while you have 2 adjacent spark plug wires pulled off the coil towers so you can check for spark.

If coming up to the light:
I'd blame a dirty throttle body and/or sticky IACV. Simple fix is to buy another throttle body gasket and some O2 sensor safe carb cleaner, take the throttle body off (being careful of the fragile vacuum lines on top of it), remove the IACV and hose down the TB including with the valve/flap opened so you can get that cleaned up too. Don't spray the IACV and be careful not to move the plunger location, moving it won't break it but will make restarting harder than necessary.
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Old 05-08-2021, 05:12 PM   #3
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Thank for replying. I will look at that.

It didnt die every single time but when it did it would be mere moments after coming to a complete stop.

I think I even have some crankshaft sensors laying around from the junkyard after throwing parts at some issue I was having in the past!

Last edited by ampecsu; 05-08-2021 at 05:17 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 05-08-2021, 06:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post

Try to get someone else to ride with you, or let it run/idle in the driveway until it dies with someone else around. Need them to turn the key to "start" while you have 2 adjacent spark plug wires pulled off the coil towers so you can check for spark.
It wont start as of now but It does have spark
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:38 PM   #5
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Check fuel pressure, TPS, and for injector pulses. A voltmeter can do the latter two, but for FP you will have to buy/rent/borrow a gauge. Your nearest FLAPS may loan those out for free.
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Old 05-08-2021, 08:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Like I said, I had spark but I replaced the crankshaft sensor with my spare laying around and it started up. Does that sound right?
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Old 05-08-2021, 10:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Just curious, did you recently fill the gas tank from a different gas station than usual?
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Old 05-08-2021, 11:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
Check fuel pressure, TPS, and for injector pulses. A voltmeter can do the latter two, but for FP you will have to buy/rent/borrow a gauge. Your nearest FLAPS may loan those out for free.
sorry Bill did see your post up when I last posted.
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Old 05-08-2021, 11:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
Just curious, did you recently fill the gas tank from a different gas station than usual?
I believe I actually did... but I probably use it 15% of the time
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Old 05-09-2021, 01:30 PM   #10
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

I just went through a weird troubleshooting experience with a 26hp Kawasaki riding mower. Similar dying issue (obviously quite different than a Saturn S), and pursued similar thoughts of coils/wire set, plugs, air, fuel. Only to finally determine that the fuel was [I]stale [I] and had to replenish with fresh fuel. This solved my mower issue; from dying every few minutes to mowing perfectly for 3+ hours straight, however; it may have zero bearing on your car dying issue.
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Old 05-09-2021, 02:33 PM   #11
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

After 'M' day if your SO allows it or you schedule time for troubleshooting, suggestions by billr should be considered, especially fuel pressure and injector checks. A f/p gauge connected and observed in different modes may help determine if the fuel pump is worn out without giving up any hints; ignition on engine off, idling, random engine die offs. At all times after ignition is turned on, f/p should remain high and never drop off, sometimes the only hint of either a fuel pump problem and/or fuel filter issue. Injectors are difficult to diagnose.

Injectors are most likely operating and not prone to intermittent failures unless wiring damage occurred from animals chewing on insulation partly made from vegetable matter or chemicals inadvertently creating the aroma of vegetables. Injector testing is either examining spark plugs for fuel after several failed starting attempts occurs or using noid lights to visually see injector pulses during starting, idling or when restarting when the random engine die off occurs. 233k miles is a very long time for a fuel pump. Nothing lasts forever. If you're lucky maybe not replacing a partially clogged fuel filter is causing an intermittent fuel issue. Checking fuel pressure before and after the filter may help eliminate filter problems. Pressure should be the same on both sides of the filter.

To be clear, the crank sensor is the most important part of the EFI system as it generates the electronic clock pulses that allows the pcm to operate; fuel pump, ignition system and injector pulses. An intermittent crank sensor, when it fails, simply kills fuel pump/spark/injectors all at the same time. Engine heat breaks down sensors. A dead crank sensor kills all three - the starter will crank the engine but it will never fire up. Seeing spark means the crank sensor is working as designed.
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Old 05-09-2021, 02:47 PM   #12
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

That "mere moments after coming to a stop" makes me suspicious of the TPS and IAC valve, too. The TPS is easy to check with live-data, so I would certainly check it.
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Old 05-09-2021, 03:07 PM   #13
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
I just went through a weird troubleshooting experience with a 26hp Kawasaki riding mower. Similar dying issue (obviously quite different than a Saturn S), and pursued similar thoughts of coils/wire set, plugs, air, fuel. Only to finally determine that the fuel was [I]stale [I] and had to replenish with fresh fuel. This solved my mower issue; from dying every few minutes to mowing perfectly for 3+ hours straight, however; it may have zero bearing on your car dying issue.
I bought a small (unknown hp) single stage snow blower a few years ago. At the end of snow season I add an ounce of fuel conditioner to remaining fuel then drain it from the carb and tank. Pulling the starter rope to get the engine to start or not allows this mixture to work its way into the carb and engine for storage until the next snow season. This seems to work every year when fresh fuel is poured in for the first startup. One pull. I hope this still works after a few more seasons pass.

Do you drain fuel at the end of the season or leave it without pouring in a fuel treatment then running the engine for a minute after treatment? I find it difficult to believe the same gasoline used in vehicles goes stale in lawn mowers, riding mowers, and other small engines but I accept anyone determining their gas went stale hence the fuel treatment products to keep fuel stabilized. My guess is a shed with several gas driven products may be a pain to drain all fuel for several months of non use if a fuel conditioner is poured in to help fuel from going stale. Another issue not covered may be fuel turning to varnish and clogging carburetor passages with fresh fuel dissolving this coating. Whether carburetor with float valve or diaphragm pump for two stroke engines, gasoline may form varnish to choke small passages into the equivalent of passageway arteriosclerosis - buildup choking fuel flow. Small gas engines may be more prone to their small passageways building up clogs than car engines left as lawn ornaments for a year or more with zero startup issues.
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Old 05-09-2021, 07:32 PM   #14
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

My mower is 4-cycle, not 2. I use the mower year round (not mowing 12 months, but in use pulling firewood and stuff around.
The fuel in question had Sta-bil additive in it, but, but, it was kinda more than 2 years old....anyway, new fuel added along with 3 ounces of NAPTHA (gas totaled 4 gallons) and the HI HO, Kawasaki 26hp, RIDES AGAIN !!
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Old 05-09-2021, 08:08 PM   #15
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

I once had a problem like that, where the car would stall upon stopping at a stop sign or a red light. It was the reason I discovered this forum The problem turned out to be the engine coolant temperature sensor. Be sure to check that if you haven't already.
I also have a '95, and I'm approaching the three hundred thousand mile mark!
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Old 05-09-2021, 08:09 PM   #16
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

I dump any unused fuel in my 2.5 gallon container into the car just to keep it from laying around unused. Perhaps this may help by periodically dumping gas containers into vehicles then refilling with fresh fuel every few months. I have two 5 gallon containers my nephews use and this fuel is dumped into tanks frequently. We use food points to reduce per gallon costs so extra fuel goes into the two large containers. Rotating the fuel prevents them from going stale.I think I use Stabil too or its competitor.
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Old 05-09-2021, 08:27 PM   #17
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
...Seeing spark means the crank sensor is working as designed.
Just so I give 100% of the info: I saw a a richpin vid where he demonstrated the spark test at the coil but he only showed 4-1. So I only tested 4-1. Could 2-3 not have been working before I swapped out he the crank sensor?? Thus meaning it actually was the sensor??
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Old 05-09-2021, 08:48 PM   #18
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Spark on one or both coils means the pcm is working. The pcm works only if the crank sensor works. No crank sensor = no pcm operation = no fuel pump, no spark on any coil and no injector pulses making the pcm a door stop. Any spark means the crank sensor is working period. You can verify both coils working by removing all four plug wires after noting firing order. If one coil died, your engine would run but only on two cylinders and very roughly.

In this problem, you should determine whether this is a fuel or spark issue. So far, you verified spark, albeit one coil. You can test the coil by itself or both coils at once. Either way, spark should be seen on both coils to eliminate the crank sensor as the problem. I think you're not moving on to check for a fuel problem as it seems clear to me that spark or crank sensor aren't the problems.
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Old 05-09-2021, 08:49 PM   #19
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
and the HI HO, Kawasaki 26hp, RIDES AGAIN !!
That's almost as much HP as our Saturns
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Old 05-12-2021, 05:17 PM   #20
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Default Re: Just died 5 times at stop lights...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rochester View Post
I once had a problem like that, where the car would stall upon stopping at a stop sign or a red light. It was the reason I discovered this forum The problem turned out to be the engine coolant temperature sensor. Be sure to check that if you haven't already.
I also have a '95, and I'm approaching the three hundred thousand mile mark!
Ironically mine just did that to me today. I just did an engine flush/fill and thermostat swap. It only did it to me once and it didn't stall completely, it just dropped the RPM's down to about 200 and struggled a bit until I gave it gas to go again and after that it was fine. I wanna chalk it up to the PCM needing to relearn how to do things again now that the thermostat has been replaced, but I'm not ruling out a bad temp sensor either.

I was just coming here to see if OP had solved his issue and to ask if he had full coolant. I love coincidences

Also, in my experience, if OP has a bad coil pack, the car won't run for s#!t. Even an intermittent coil can cause issues, but when one goes bad, you're going to feel like you're only firing (literally) on three cylinders. It doesn't sound like OP is having a misfire issue as the other coils should be enough to keep the engine running, just really rough. It wouldn't cause the car to stall. Coil packs are one of those things that either work or they don't.
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Last edited by cujoe_da_man; 05-12-2021 at 05:22 PM.
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