1989 Buick stalls


Hello out there. I’d like your opinion on what?s causing this. It?s a 1989 Buick Electra with just under 90,000 miles. My mother gave it to us when she took it off the road in April. She had problems with it stalling on her and replaced the transmission and the control module (with a used one) last winter. It seemed fine after that. We?ve had in on the road since the 1st of July and it’s been great other than needing two to three tries to turn it over in the morning on the first start of the day. Two days ago, it began to decelerate while driving on the highway. All of the warning lights came on and off. The radio shut off and then came on again tuned to a different station. It did this five times that day while making a highway trip of about 80 miles. Yesterday, it drove well for about an hour and then it did that again, but actually died this time. I was traveling at about 35 miles per hour at the time. It just slowed to a complete stop and I had no juice for anything – not even the flashers. Turning the ignition made no sound at all. After sitting there for about 25 minutes, the flashers came on, so I turned the ignition and it started. It is at the mechanics now. He?ll look at it later this week. This appears to be the same problem my Mom had with it last fall/winter. Can you suggest what the mechanic should look for – and do you think it’s worth the effort given its age? Everything else seems great. I put new breaks in it, two new tires, and a suspension rod (I think that’s what it was) in May. I would really appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you so much,



I think it’s the ignition switch. GM had these crappy ignition switches in the '80s up through the early '90s. Something is cutting the main power to the car, and the ignition switch can certainly do that. Next time it happens, try jiggling the key back and forth a little (not all the way to the Off position or you’ll lock the steering wheel, but just a little jiggle) and see if that helps anything.


Thank you, I notice that others have posted the same problem with '89 Buicks and it was suggested that they check the ignition swith. I’ll mention this to the mechanic. I’m curious about the others – did they find it to be the ignition swith?


Hello again

My mechanic just called and feels he’s narrowed it down to the mass airflow sensor. I noticed that another post came to the same conclusion. I guess i’ll have him replace it and see what happens.

thank you


The problem, from your description, is a LOSS OF ELECTRICAL POWER, which caused the engine to cut out. The MAF will not cause a loss of electrical power. IF MAF were tested, and found bad, that would be one thing. The ignition switch has had a lot of use in 19 years. It could easily be worn out. I’d have it changed BEFORE an expensive MAF is changed, change the ignition switch (the part with about a dozen wires attached to it, not the lock cylinder part). The steering column will have to be lowered to change it.


Thank you for your response. I was told that the control module is the ignition. It was replaced (with a used one) last winter. Are you referring to something else when you say ignition?


I’m also remembering that the mechanic told me he did something to the MAF and it ran smoothly, and then did something else to it and the engine sputtered. That’s how he pinpointed it as the problem. Should I ask him to replace the ignition switch also/anyway? I don’t know the difference between that and the control module.


For anyone interested – it appears to have been the mass air flow sensor. it was replaced a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve not had any problems since. i’ll let you know if it happens again.


Of course, we’re interested in feedback, for a number of reasons. I’m glad that changing the MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor seems to have fixed the problem. It’s still an unresolved problem, in my mind. When the engine stops, and the ignition key is still in RUN, there is STILL electrical power to everything, UNLESS, there is something wrong with the electrical system. The ignition module is the ignition control on the engine. The ignition switch switches electrical power ON to almost everything when the ignition key is turned to RUN. For me, it’s STILL a suspect for the loss of electrical power you described. There are other parts of the electrical power supply, which come before the ignition switch, which could cause loss of electrical power. If the symptoms of electrical power loss reoccur, re-visit that area.