questionsgame: what the heck happened to my car?

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Since electrical was fine, that rules out battery and alternator.

Probably clogged fuel filter or bad fuel pump as other dude mentioned. Possibly something in the fuel lines...water, saw dust, urine...

Or it could be that your speedometer was broken and you were really doing 175mph instead of 75mph. Your car's governor kicked in and stalled the engine to slow your speedin' butt down!

Edit: or you ran out of gas...

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Since Fuel has already been taken I'll go with Low / no transmission fluid (usualy caused by not torqueing the drain plug after servicing.) As the fluid temperature rises it increases pressure on the untorqued plug causing it to come loose. the fluid spills out causing an inability of the transmission to transfer power from the engine to the drive shaft. as the car slows the remaining fluid sloshes forward allowing the car to accelerate again, repeat until not enough fluid to continue.

EDIT: Also what year make and model is your car?

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@ruger9mm: Speed limit is 70mpg so

Another friend guessed fuel pump. Suddenly, I'm wondering about that $3.45/gal gas that I bought last week. Although modern gas pumps have filters so that shouldn't be the cause.

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A rouge EMP blast from a solar flare or experimental government technology.

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Three things you have to have: fuel, air, spark. The spark part is going to depend on the car. The fuel part is easy enough to check, it's either going to be clogged filter/lines or dead pump, assuming there was fuel in the tank [this is another possibility- a failed fuel gauge leading to empty tank].

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Female driver. Amirite, fellas? Nudge, nudge. High fives!

(only teasing)

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@bsmith1: Oh no you don't. You're not getting off that easy.

I'm a good driver but like my brothers, I like to drive fast. Comfy like. Both feet flat on the floor.

I can drive a manual transmission.
I take very good care of my cars. This one has 85K miles on it and I have full service records for when I sell it.
My daddy made sure I knew how to change a tire and jump the battery.
I carry jumper cables and X style lug nut wrench.
I can put on and remove tire chains.
I can read and follow a map.

I have no wish to change my own oil or do that kind of maintenance but if I was taught, I could do it.

So I repeat....

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@bsmith1: That's "dudette"to you, sir! :)

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Like most garages will say [hope] 'ITS THE COMPUTER' that el be a 1000.00. Hope not but, the fuel pump [which i suspect] will be 650.00 if in tank..alot of the cars filter is also in the tank coupled with the pump.replace one replace all....good luck

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Could be a clogged cat/exhaust.
Older car or newer? edit: saw the 85Kmiles. Shouldn't be a problem yet, but it's getting close.

j5 j5
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Ditto in that it sounds like it's fuel related. BTDT, both in the running out of fuel and the fuel pump dying while on the freeway.

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The fact that the pedal had no resistance indicates:
a: not drive by wire
b: possible throttle body issue.

edit: nevermind. There was no resistance because cruise control was applying gas in an attempt to keep speed up.

j5 j5
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@imyeti58: For some reason, they keep selling me service contracts and they have MORE than paid for themselves. My last major fix was replacing both the front and rear bushings. Just had the water pump replaced.

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I'll bet there is a colony of mice living in your engine compartment. While you were going down the road, they decided to go all Secret of Nimh on your car and bite the fuel lines.

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Typically, instant mechanical failure in that regard is a fuel pump, or something to do with the fuel delivery system (clogged filter, line, etc). Although it could be a catalytic converter, it's unlikely for the cat to cause instant failure; they usually fail over time and you'll notice a gradual decline in your ability to accelerate, especially at top end RPM. On the good side, mechanical issues are usually easier to trouble shoot then electrical ones, so hopefully you can save a few pennies on labor charges.

Although it's been taken, my guess is fuel pump.

Does the winner get a BOC?

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By any chance, did you accidentally put a tank of E-85 into your gas tank, in a car that's not designed to run on it? That might explain the unusually low gas price you mentioned.

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@djp519: Nope. Don't use that. And I go to the dealer (actually good) for service.

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@thunderthighs:
"Speed limit is 70mpg so"

70MPG? That's pretty high fuel velocity, but I bet it overran the injectors at that speed and that's what caused your issue.
;)

j5 j5
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It's possible that your flux capacitor went out. You got close to the 88mph but not quite there. It's a good thing you pulled off the toll road. If you were, say, speeding to a brick wall, that could have been catastrophic!

Glad you're safe. Cars breaking down at speeds on busy roads can get scary and dangerous!

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You done cracked a cylinder!

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@thunderthighs: Did it turn over at all when you tried to start it? You said it had electrical power (that could mean the lights came on).
If it did not make any noise except click when it turned over battery/alt. (An older car can be run with out a battery until you turn on the headlights <-experience and don't ask.)

Catalytic converter or other exhaust system clogged.

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You drove through a dense swarm of gnats and they've clogged your air filter. No oxygen means no fire means car no go.

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@j5: Brat. TYPO!

@lotsofgoats: Please, no! :(

@caffeine_dude: It wouldn't turn over. It would kinda try but it didn't click like an alternator/battery problem. With the sudden loss of power, I'm going for something with the engine more than electrical.

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@thunderthighs: Just to clarify:
turn over (i.e. crank) means the crankshaft spins and the internal bits do their internal bittery , not that it actually starts.
So, did it crank or did you get other noises/dimming lights when attempting to start?

I'm going with plugged exhaust based on the latest evidence.

j5 j5
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@thunderthighs: When will we learn the correct answer?

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I would've said alternator, as well. I had something similar happen on the highway one morning but fortunately I was able to get enough power to wait for an opening and pull over on the shoulder. No fun at all.

cf cf
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@chris12345: I called for an update about 15 minutes ago. Waiting to hear back.

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First thing that went through my head was a bad fuel pump. The second thing was that the coil needs replacing -- maybe it corroded or just wiggled loose?

Finally, perhaps the drive belt was slipping or broken?

Only a few things could go wrong with a car. You said the electrical is fine but it won't start. Last thing is the spark and fuel. If it's getting fuel (and you could do a visual inspection of the fuel injectors, then it's gotta be the spark. A few things can cause loss of spark -- either bad coil/plugs/wires or a loss of the distributor (either from the distributor going bad or the belts not turning and prompting it to spark).

I helped a guy on the side of the road near my house one night. Turns out his fuel filter was clogged and it was only a few bucks to fix on the side of the road. He seemed really grateful.

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No news yet. The tech just pulled it into the bay to start looking at it.

I told the service person about the fuel pump guess y'all had. She thought maybe timing belt but she says the gas pedal losing all resistance threw her.

So still waiting.

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I say the computer malfunctioned and short circuited, taking out many electrical components in the process. Edit: On second thought - I've never heard of an alternator shorting out on the highway, but if that's possible then that would be my guess.

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@thunderthighs: Better hope it wasn't the timing belt, that's pretty much a new engine right there, I think (unless it uses timing chain, in which case they probably would have said so, and that is unlikely on an older car).

I am hopeful it is small. I was going to suggest a misfire when I read the first mention of a "chug", but that typically would not cause a complete loss of power, only momentary. But it would cause the check engine light to flash for about 30 seconds and then go off, so that is similar. Just so unlikely to lose all power since misfire issues are usually on a per-cylinder basis.

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Timing belt. If it's a zero-interference engine you didn't damage your valves, if not you're toast. You can google your particular engine to see if it's a zero-interference engine or not. Good luck.

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Throttle cable snapped or came loose.

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You're not driving a Benz, are you? The same thing happened to me one time, I was only going 50 when mine lost power. A part failed behind the accelerator and it was a recall that I didn't receive. They loaded it on a flat bed truck and took it to the dealer and it was repaired in no time.

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@thunderthighs: On some cars when the cruise engages it will move the gas pedal to the floor perhaps that is what happened there.
Cruise set to 70 gas part way down. Car slows to 60 (lost power) the pedal goes to the floor.

Still not clear did the car go: ra ra ra ra ra ra normally but without the vroom, when you turned the key?
Seeing that typed is funnier then saying it.

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FYI: 2003 Sebring Convertible if that helps

Now you have me scared. :(

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@thunderthighs: "2003 Sebring Convertible"

Well there's your problem.

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I have to agree with carb, fule pump or filter. other thought could be a smart junction box error. that is a fancy thing car techs call one of the computers. 2003 means no carb and that the car is "digitally" injected so the computer could have gone bad and you may not be gettign fuel that way. idk just a guess. Also i remember some cars that slow to below 40 if it senses a transmission proble, but i have only ever head of that in disel Jags and BMWs. Just another guess.

fyi if it happens again get under you car and pound the fule tank. if it is a fule pump or filter problem that may get it going again long enough to get you home or to a garage.

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I used to drive a 73 Mustang with a 351 Cleveland engine. I bought it from some guy in a parking lot for $500 cash. It had been totaled at some point and the entire body was made of Bondo, and it was not really mounted to the frame. Whenyou hit the gas, the frame would leap forward, but the body would stay put till the frame advanced a couple of inches and caught with a thump. Likewise in braking, the frame would stop but the body would slide forward a few inches. I used to imagine that I'd hit the gas on that powerful engine and it would shoot right through the front end of the body, leaving me driving down the street with just the skeleton of the car. Of course, meeting the windshield would have been an unpleasant experience. There was a problem with grounding on the car, and there was a chain with a lead weight on it draping from the engine over the (firewall?) Sometimes it would slip off and the car would act similar to how you describe. But I doubt your car has this.

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@curtisuxor: I was going to go with that, but I'm not sure how that would prevent the car from starting. Then again, I'm no mechanic.

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I'll guess some sort of sensor...oxygen, crankshaft position, etc. Fingers crossed here that it's not expensive for you. :)

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Fuse.
Fuel pump or engine management.

j5 j5
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They are still stymied at the moment. They can't get power to it. The dead gas pedal is throwing them.

I did remember that about a few miles before that happened, I hit Resume on the cruise and it zoomed up to 80mph. I had it set to 75. I braked and reset the cruise. All was fine until a couple miles later. She said that was interesting and could point to the cruise because some operate on a vacuum system. I guess they can go wonky.

It's not the timing belt though.

Fuel pump is still a possibility.

Thank goodness for my service contract that I just renewed.

So stay tuned until tomorrow. I'm enjoying your posts!

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Might be time to check with the Car Talk guys!

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Everyone chill out, I got this.

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@thunderthighs: this doesn't sound like a very good quality mechanic. The fuel pump takes 15 minutes to check (at most).

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I had an ECM failure on my 95 Mustang GT a while back (no longer have that car) that actually gave vaguely similar symptoms. Car was doing fine at speed / in gear, but then when I dropped it into neutral it died on me and wouldn't start back up. In the case of my mustang that was a manual tranny so I was able to keep it in gear to keep it running, but your sebring is an automatic which will of course shift itself out of gear when you're not doing anything, allowing itself to stall out in such a scenario.

Out of curiosity is it a convertible? You get all sorts of fun extra electronics with the power ragtop.