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98 Buick stalls and wont start for hours later

My dad has a 98 Buick La Sabre that will shut off at times. It once shut off as he was turning on the air cond. last summer. Right after it stalled and would not start he attempted to open the windows but they would not work. After a few hours and cooling off it started and the windows worked again. He took it to a shop who said it was the map sensor. They changed it but the problem happened again a few weeks after. The fuel pump has recently been changed along with the fuel filter.

One mechanic suggested it could be the ignition control modular or knock sensor. He recently got a different car so I an going to test drive it for a while. If it shuts down I will test for spark to confirm it is not a fuel problem. I will also try swooping relays to see if that is not the problem. I will be cleaning all the connections I can find with contact cleaner as it can’t hurt.

Any suggestions on what could be the problem. Could it be a short, a bad wire that once it gets to much of a load on it cuts the engine off?

A couple questions; after it stalls, and won’t start - does it crank? or nothing at all? And, if you can catch it in its bad state, if you turn the switch from run to ACC, will the power windows work then? My past experience with a similar problem was due to an auto resetting circuit breaker, caused by a pinched wire.

Yes it turns over. It may slightly fire but no where close to starting until it cools down for a while. I do not know about the windows working in different key positions. It is not my car. But if it happens to me when I drive it I can try and see.

Where was this auto resetting circuit breaker? Would this be with the relays and fuses? Was this also a Buick that you had?

It was a Monte Carlo. The breaker would reset after a period of time-it wasn’t at fault. I finally traced it down to a hot (live all the time) wire inside the pass. door which fed the door lock. It was pinched under a factory fold over clamp, and had rubbed the insulation off. At very intermittent times, that would short to ground and kill the locks, seats, sunroof etc. I doubt that’s anything like you have, since it’s cranking. I asked about the windows in acc. position thinking you might have a bad ignition switch, but again, with crank, that may not be.

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I’ve been driving this car the last few days. The check engine light is on most of the time. I took it to Auto Zone to see what it was reading. It comes up with a low voltage on the oxygen sensor. It does not seem that this would cause the engine to shut off. Or could it?

It could be a failing crankshaft position sensor

They very often do not generate a fault code . . . probably 1/2 of the bad ones I’ve replaced never resulted in any codes

Would that cause the engine to shut off and not start back up for a few hours?

It could

Failing crankshaft position sensors can cause an engine to stall and/or not start, in strange ways, and often without any kind of warning

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Post the actual O2 code. Also doubt that’s your problem, however.

You know, a '98 model could have a failing fuel pump. I’m not a mechanic, and just guessing here, but it seems like your problem is heat-related because something has to cool down before it works again. If the pump is in the tank, cooled by the gasoline around it, could it be that this problem starts happening when the fuel gets lower in the tank (and the weak pump starts getting hot)?

code P0137.

The fuel pump has been changed recently before this was happening and after it was changed. Same for the fuel filter. It has happened with a fuller tank.

To reword that better, this problem began before the fuel pump was changed and it has happend after. same goes for the filter.

I have been driving this car now for a couple hundred miles with no problems so far. I have AAA so I can go up to 100 miles away with no worry. Since the check engine light is for a code p0137 oxygen sensor, second one after the useless cat converter. I ordered one on eBay for 15 bucks. It is easy to change easy to get at and if nothing else it should improve gas mileage. Doing some reading on this, it is in the minority that this could be the problem but a few say it could. I should have that in a few days.

I don’t see how on earth that oxygen sensor could be the cause of the stalling

Whoever said that should please explain why

I read that in some online blogs or whatever. Like I said it should in the least improve gas millage and it should get the check engine to go off.

As for the cap he did try changing caps.

I’ve been driving it now for over a week. It does run very good, idles good, basically no miss, starts good cold and warm. But today 2 or 3 times it has just cut out for a split second and come back on. It did not feel like a fuel cut off this felt like a total off and on like the key was shut off. Feels like something electrical. What are the chances it could be the crankshaft position sensor? Reading on this it can cause a engine to " not start, hard start, intermittent engine shut down, misfire, engine cut out, excessive fuel consumption, and failed emission test.

p0137 refers to the o2 sensor after the cat I think. If that sensor failed I doubt it would cause this symptom. However, there’s a couple of other related things that might throw that code that might

  • if the cat was plugged up
  • if the wiring to the sensor was shorting out

P0137 code definition

O2 Sensor Circuit Low Voltage (Bank 1, Sensor 2)
What the P0137 code means

P0137 is the OBD-II generic code indicating the O2 sensor for bank 1 sensor 2 is failing to increase the voltage output above .21 volts indicating excessive oxygen in the exhaust.

This code occurs when the engine control module (ECM) sees the voltage of the O2 sensor for bank 1 sensor 2 below .21 volts when the ECM has commanded the fuel to a targeted rich condition on that bank of the engine.
What causes the P0137 code?

The ECM detects the low voltage problem and turns on the Check Engine Light.

The ECM uses other O2 sensors to try and control the fuel injection with their values.

Exhaust leaks

What are the symptoms of the P0137 code?

The engine will run rich during the testing of the sensor for problems.
The Check Engine Light will be illuminated.
You may have exhaust leaks before or near the O2 sensor in question.

fyi, here’s the generic p0137 info. If your info is specific to a 98 Buick, yes, that’s the one to follow. But a dtc reported on an o2 sensor in back of the cat always makes me wonder about the cat too. Exhaust leaks are a possibility off course. The only o2 that sensor should have access to is what comes out of the engine and the cat. If any is getting in another way, that would confuse the engine computer. I’m not sure why the ECM would change the mixture to compensate tho. Maybe it is trying to compensate for what it thinks is an operational but imperfect cat.

@db4690 gave the most probable cause 4 days ago…


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Yes, any misfiring would allow excess o2 to get into the exhaust stream. And crank pos sensors are a common heat sensitive failure item which could cause a misfire. Usually you’d notice a misfire as a drivability problem, but not always I guess.


If the crank sensor is an input to the PCM, and the PCM is using this input to time the engine (and deliver fuel and spark), how could it quit doing this mid-stream without posting the crank sensor failure code?

Is it possible that the O2 sensor is indicating too much oxygen in the exhaust, so the computer keeps dumping more fuel to the point where it can actually flood and cause a stall?

Also, do any of the OBD-2 laptop diagnostic programs monitor crank position sensor input that can be graphed real-time so you could see the input spuriously dropping out? And if it is the crank sensor, why would it fail to start for a period of time afterward?