I have a 96 cavalier that I have been driving for nearly 3 years. Since decemeber of 2006 I have had issues with my car randomly not starting. My father who Knows a fair bit about mechanics ran some of his own tests and could not figure out what was wrong with it. We assumed that it was simply some bad gas, cold weather or water in the tank cause by the cold winter. Once the weather warmed up the problem continued. It would randomly not start and if you went back an hour later it would start perfectly and run great. WHen it wouldn't start it would sound like it was trying but nothing would happen, would backfire a few times. Since March it has begun to stall while driving. The first time I was doing 60km and the car shut off and wouldn't start for 10 minutes. The second, third and forth time it occured between 40- 60 km. All the times this has happened the car had been driving for anywhere between 20min to an hour.
We finally decided to take my car into a shop who has had it for almost two months now off and on. It has taken so long because they have had to wait for it to die on them as well. Finally it died for a week straight. They ran numerous tests and still have no idea whats wrong with my car. The believe it is something electric and they have also had some concerns about an anti- theft system or my CD that was installed. They have not been able to locate the anti-theft and they took out my CD player and they said everything looked fine.
They have now asked me to take my car back and "break it" for them as they are unable to get it to stall or not start again. I drove it for less than 15 minutes and it stalled on me 5 times but i was always able to restart it.
If anyone can help me that would be great. I can handle this anymore. My mother and I have been attempting to share her car for the last 4 months but this will no longer work.
Intermittent problems can be the very devil to find at times, Katie. If you try to solve the problem by guessing, and replacing parts without real justification, it can get to be a very expensive exercise.
Cars of today have complicated electronic control systems which are relatively easy to diagnose if the car is dead, but if the problem is intermittent, it can be much harder.
Do you know if the garage where you took your car found any trouble codes and, if so, what they were?
On essentially every car, if certain problems tend to show up frequently, the manufacturer will issue a technical service bulletin covering the problem. Sometimes the mechanics even at the dealership level) forget to, or avoid, going through the TSB's.
Maybe you should search for a highly credible garage in your area, and try for a second opinion.
Thanks for the speedy response. The garage that we used was Master Mechanic and my dad is usually my mechanic. When my dad checked it he thoguht it was some sort of module issue but because of the way that compact cars a built today he couldn't gain easy access to anything within the car. When my dad tried to use the tester on the car to get the codes off it woulnd't come up with any codes. He took it to the mechanic and they have been running every test know to man. They also had an electrical specialist come in the other week but my car decided to work for the whole week so he could not test anything.
Where would I find this TSB? Can I gain access to it on the Internet?
I'll see if I can locate an open source for the series of bulletins for you. I subscribe to Alldata, and have access to them for my cars, but I do not own a Cavalier so am unable to access them for you.
I will email you privately and see if we can suggest something.
By the way, please tell us what engine, transmission, etc you have when you post. That might be a help.
Starting with 1996 cars have become computers and the technician has to have some computer skills to troubleshoot intermittent problems. He needs a good OBDII tester to look at the computer and be able to interpret what it is telling him. It may even take dunning the tester on the car through failure periods. Laptop testers can monitor the computer and store the information dynamically so it can later be interpreted. Try to find a mechanic that has the skills to do the job correctly. You may even be better off and money ahead taking it to a dealer as they have the tools to do it right. Here you will get only guesses. The very least we would need is any codes stored in the history and the freeze frame data associated with that code...