2000 malibu 3.1 engine shuts off while driving, after stopping the car and turning key off, it starts and runs fine for awhile, then shuts off again

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This car has only 50000 miles on it.
2000 malibu 3.1 engine shuts off while driving, after stopping the car and turning key off - then on, it starts and runs fine for 5 or
10 minutes, then shuts off again.
First time it happened we were on level city road at 30mph, 2nd time 20 minutes later going downhill, and third time while on level at 40 mph.
I drove it to the mechanic, he put it on the diagnostics and everything showed normal. He went on test run for 20 minutes and it ran fine. Tonite he took it home to see if it willl stop. It ran fine.
Now its the third day, we drove around town and it runs fine.
Any suggestions as to solutions for this problem as the car is in very good condition.
I'd hate to take it to the scrap man with this low mileage, and its like new condition.
But It's not safe to drive and the engine shut off can easily cause a fatality.
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A guy at work has a Lumina with the same exact problem. Two years and four shops later, he still has the problem. He solved it by buying a Dodge, but the Lumina sits in the garage, used for nothing more that trips of a mile or so.
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wrote:

Probably a bad ECU intermittently getting confused. Had similar but not so often symptoms on a 2.8 Celebrity. My mech had it for almost a week at his shop where they used it as their utility car with diagnostics always attached. Nothing happened. You can't diagnose something unless it happens. It my case it was heat related, as I left it at the shop the first cool day of the fall. The first warm day of the spring it just wouldn't start. New ECU fixed it. You can try swapping in an ECU to eliminate that. Your best bet.
Another one I ran into like that was almost exactly like your problem was with that good straight 6-cyl that Chrysler put in my '74 Dart. 225? For almost half a year it would die unpredictably. But it would start right back up when cranked. It was worse in warm weather or when the engine was hot. I did all the normal diagnostics, fuel pressure, fuel flow, etc. Of course it ran fine when I was diagnosing it. Put a new ECU on it - that was a primitive 20 buck part on that car. I can't tell you how frustrated I was with that car, especially when it died on a hot Easter Sunday on the expressway with my family aboard on the way to a family reunion. We didn't make it and got home in a tow truck and busses. Wouldn't even start with the Minuteman towtruck providing a good boost. Had it towed home from where the Minuteman had left it off the highway to the street in front of the house and went back to looking at it. Figured the only thing left to try was drop the gas tank and see if there was something in there that could float around and stop fuel flow when it felt like it. My head dropped thinking about doing that, and the way my head was shaking and the angle of the bright sun was just right for me to catch a glint behind the head. Primary wire to the coil was against the head, and the insulation gone where it was touching. Heat increases resistance, and a bump could move it a bit too. Half an inch of electrical tape fixed it. The reason the wire could touch the head was I had replaced the valve cover gasket a while back, and forgot to rehang that wire on its clip. But it's been 20 years, and I've forgiven myself.
I've had a couple 3.1's - a Corsica and a Lumina now - and their controls aren't particularly complex. Did your mech mention the ECU? A good mech doesn't want to stick you with a 200 buck part unless he's sure it will fix it. But if it's working fine when he runs diagnostics, why replace it? That's the biggest problem with this. Don't think an ECU can be returned for a refund. The mech I used when I had the 2.8 Celebrity was a one-visit mech, and just would never do anything by guesswork. He wouldn't take anything for the week the car had been in the shop. Just said he'd get me later when he fixed something, and he did. I've heard that others pick up ECU's at the boneyard to swap when the ECU is s a possibility. You might try that.
--Vic I'm adding this to the tech group. There's some good mechs there.
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Thanks Vick, I am looking through all possiblities. My tech didn't advise changing out parts adhokc but rather , try to find the fault. He gave me a spark testor and a valve depressor. Next time it shuts down, I am to leave the key on, depress the fuel manifold valve carefully, not to get sprayed with gasoline, watch for pressure, and no airbubbls, then , install the spark testor and have the wife crank the engine over to check for spark. Now one of those will be off. The engine doesn't restart, unless you turn the key off first.
My guess is its electrical. See my other post today re wiring reroute.
On Fri, 02 Apr 2010 06:51:16 -0500, Vic Smith

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On Mon, 05 Apr 2010 01:51:17 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@cam.com wrote:

You really should find a mechanic with a VDR. Life's too short to be doing the diagnostics as you describe them.
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snipped-for-privacy@cam.cam wrote:

My '97 Blazer did the same type of thing. Turned out it's very common to have the ignition switch fail on the blazer.
Replacement was not fun, required about $15 of the right size torx sockets, as detailed by several on line articles. Switch was $90 and it took abour 3 hours start-to-finish. Dealer wanted $250-300 pats and labor, which is fair; especially if you don't like working near and having to disarm the airbag.
My vehicle has no security system - no "magic key" or keyfob/ alarm. Just put the key in and it should run. :) Having the security system can give you additional things to check.
Agree with other posters it could be the ECU - you might see if you can correlate failures with temperature, or damp mornings, some weather condition.
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snipped-for-privacy@cam.cam wrote:

I had that problem back in the 50's with my first motorcycle, an "Ivory White Calthorpe" and it turned out to be dirt in the fuel feed.
Fred
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snipped-for-privacy@cam.cam wrote:

On LH Chrylsers, such behavior is often cam or crank sensors going bad. Could that be the case here?
--
Bill Putney
(To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
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Data recorder!
This is what the automotive industry needs to find these intermittent electrical problems.
Basically you would connect wires from a voltage/data recorder to key points in the electrical system, then this would show what was happening.
So they would connect this, you would drive around, you would experience the problem, then return to the shop and tell them the date/time the problem occurred. Then they would look at the data and see what happened.

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I agree, a data recorder plugged into the computer, set to take a "snapshot" of error codes. Now am stuck in an unreliable car, scared to drive it.
Next time this happens I will check for pressure in the fuel maniford by depressing the valve while the key is still on. If someone is with me, I can have him crank the engine and I'll check for spark with a testor I picked up.
At least I'll know if its the fuel or if its on the sparkside.
Thanks so much for the replies so far.
CC On Fri, 2 Apr 2010 17:22:54 -0700, "Bill"

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snipped-for-privacy@cam.com wrote:

How many of them would you like? Most of the better scan tools allow you to record data as the vehicle is running. Then play back the feed and look for the problem.
--
Steve W.

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On Fri, 2 Apr 2010 17:22:54 -0700, "Bill"

A proper VDR simply plugs into the ODBII port, and has an (optional) button the driver can press when the symptom occures. They can be programmed to trigger on a variety of conditions too (such as RPMs dropping to zero, voltage and any other ODBII monitorable parameter. An incredibaly valuable tool (even if I can't spell today).
When the fault happens they do a time based snapshot of parameters, usually weighted to before the symptom occurance, so you can watch a number of seconds of data (using a PC) and see what is changing and happening.
Newer ones also have scan tool capabilities built in!

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wrote:

So why don't the repair facilities have these and why are they not using these to diagnose these types of problems?
Which mechanic would the OP go to and have this done?
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On 02/04/2010 1:28 AM, snipped-for-privacy@cam.cam wrote:

Report the issue to the NHTSA and see what happens. Maybe get a recall to fix it.
http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq /
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Now here's a jerk off with a real liberal solution. Obama will fix your used car via the NHTSA. Wrong answer The correct answer was to take advantage of the cash for clunkers program.........while facing East.
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Update,
Following the wiring, discovered that the crankshaft sensor wiring was running alongside the sparkplug wires for about 3 inchs of lenght. After looking at photos of other malibu's , this was incorrect. So I rerouted along the underside of the coolant tank tubing, and strapped it there with white nylon straps.
This may solve the riddle, if electromagnet inductions were ghosting the computer causing the engine to shut off. I'll have to do something with the other bank of plug wires, and the harness wiring laying on top of them.
So far the car is running beautiful as it has in the past. Love the solid feel and the power, quiet cabin on this car. Thumbs up to Chevy !
We are hoping that the shutdown will not happen againe.
chevychase
On Fri, 02 Apr 2010 00:28:27 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@cam.cam wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@cam.com wrote:

So you think it was related to crank sensor signal. Maybe my earlier suggestion pushed you into that direction?
Glad you got it fixed.
--
Bill Putney
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Yesterday the engine shut off again after a week's hiatous. AFter rolling to a stop, I got out and checked the fuel pressure at the rack valve, and it squirted nicely. Tryed to start without turning the key to off and it restarted. and drove me home (about 20 minutes).
Today I left home and 4 minutes out the engine shut off just as I was accelerating from a 4-way stop, and rolled to a full stop in the middle of the intersection. Someone helped me push it to the side.
I got my stroller out, the wife and two young kids went back home by foot.
Attemped a restart but no. The anti theft light come on.. Turned the key to on position and waited 15 minutes, then engine started up normaly, and ran fine, I drove the car home (5minutes, safely)
I am a nervous wreck.
What can I do. The local shops don't have a dvr, the one I deal with said that the results are limited with the device.
The antitheft light coming on is a new thing, today only. Maybe need to replace the ignition switch. or turn off the anti theft by cutting the yellow wire while the engine is runnin.
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On Fri, 02 Apr 2010 00:28:27 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@cam.cam wrote:

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On Fri, 09 Apr 2010 23:30:53 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@cam.com wrote:

Well, IIRC, I said find a shop with a VDR...
Either that or sell the car and buy a Toyota: I hear unlike your Chevy, Toyoda's can't be stopped! <g>
Where are you located (region/state)?
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I presume you mean this one.
http://gmspecialservicetools.spx.com/ToolDetails.aspx?id302
Ok got some time tomorrow, will do a phone sweep of the entire pacific northwest.

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