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Why does my car stall after driving a few miles?

Dec 16, 2017 9:00AM PST

My vehicle is a 1998 Buick Regal LS. 6cyl 2.8 (automatic)

Some history, as it may be related:
About a month ago, it began stalling, once it reached normal operating temperature. (about 2-3 miles of driving)
As it turned out, my engine oil was WAY overfilled.
I got an oil change, bringing the oil level back to normal, and it seemed to fix the problem.
But about 5 days ago, after driving 20 miles, it stalled, again.
It started right back up, again, and I continued on.
After 10 more miles, it stalled once more. I started it back up, and got
home with no further stalling.

Then, last night, it stalled after about 5 miles.
I started it right back up, but only got about 100 feet before it stalled again.
This time, it either would not start, or when it did, would stall again, immediately.
I did this about 5-7 times before getting it to move another 50 feet, before
stalling, again.
Finally, after waiting a couple of minutes, I was able to get it started and to a gas station about a mile away, and then home another 3/4 mile, with no issues.

Any ideas on what the problem might be, and how to fix it?


Discussion is locked

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Clarification Request
About overfill
Dec 16, 2017 9:41AM PST

Any back story? I would check the oil level again and if it's rising then I recall my old car with a leak in the head gasket where cooling fluid dumped into the oil pan.

What also is not known is regular service. Sometimes an old road machine is often left to chance about service. You dive in and just do all the usual service of filters, pump pressure checks and so on. This is pretty cheap over diagnostic time.

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3 things
Dec 16, 2017 10:05AM PST

three things make an engine run. Air, fuel, spark. If one of those is blocked, it will cause engine to stop. Put a new air filter in it for sure. Next, pull a wire from spark plug, hold with kitchen mitt or rag to avoid shock, and hold the spark plug just a small gap from bare metal and have someone crank the car and look for regular sparking. If that exists, then you are left with fuel problem. That can be fuel pump failing, a clogged fuel filter, or trash in the fuel line. Your problem sounds similar to having a rubber fuel hose that may still look good on the outside, but ethanol laced fuel can corrode the inside and cause chunks to fall out which then can block fuel flow at times and when the engine is cut off, some backflow lays the chunk back down, and it can happen over and over again. The only cure for that is to flush the entire line to be sure all such are pumped out and replace the failing rubber hose connected portions of the fuel line. Sometimes it can be the fuel uptake in the tank which is connected to the electric pump that is in the tank. If this car has electric tank pump instead of mechanical pump mounted on engine block, then pull it out and take a look at the screen on it, make sure it's clean.

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I would add
Dec 16, 2017 12:49PM PST

This car was built during what is known as the days of "Capacitor Plague" and many computer items with those capacitors on them failed, including the ones on cars. I lost one even on a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan, but when that happens usually the car won't even crank at all.

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Dec 16, 2017 10:10AM PST

Hi, ddesposito; Do you have a check engine light illuminated? When you turn the ignition on, does the check engine light come on, then go off after starting? Have you had the computer scanned? Most part stores will scan it for free. (just don't buy anything at this point). The symptoms sound like one of these three possibilities: Ignition control module (mounted under the coils), crankshaft position sensor, or a weak fuel pump? Of course, follow Mr. Proffitt's advise on normal maintenance care.
If you come up with any DTCs ( trouble codes), let us know and we can go from there.
Good luck.