Car is possessed, at the end of my rope

I drive a 2008 Chevy HHR. For the last two or three weeks it has had problems where it sometimes stalls, refuses to start, and there are a bunch of things on my dashboard that no longer work. Included in this is my windshield wipers, the LCD controls on the steering wheel, and my radio.
My headlights work fine, and jumping the car does no good. The battery has already been replaced and the alternator has been tested charging perfectly. The longer you drive the car the more likely it is to stall, but letting it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes will let it start again. One of the mechanics that looked at it but couldn’t figure out the problem said that it sounded like something was choking the engine. I had a mechanic tell me that it was a fuse box that was arcing, but when I replace the fuse box the car wouldn’t start although the rest of my dashboard controls did work. I’m at the end of my rope and I can’t afford a new car at this moment. I’m having to switch jobs because I can no longer make my commute. I can’t continue like this can someone please help me.

One more symptom of the problem that I sometimes forget is that I’ll be driving down the road and it feels like the car, locks up. Almost like a hard shift, but it happens when the engine shouldn’t need to be shifting. Also I have noticed at times the engine being slightly sluggish.

When someone complains of a stalling condition where the engine won’t restart, the first thing I suspect is a faulty crankshaft position sensor.,2008,hhr,2.2l+l4,1441020,ignition,crankshaft+position+sensor,7196

Crankshaft position sensors can be effected by heat where they stop sending a signal to the computer. When the computer no longer see’s a signal from the crank sensor, the computer thinks crankshaft is no longer rotating. The computer then see’s no reason to operate the fuel and ignition systems and the engine shuts off.

Then if you wait awhile, the sensor cools down and starts working again, and the engine starts and runs.

A failing crankshaft position sensor doesn’t always cause the the Check Engine to come on. That’s what makes it hard to diagnose the problem if you don’t have the proper equipment.


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First off I would like to thank you. I have had a ton of backyard mechanics and even professional mechanics tell me that it’s the starter or the alternator without even paying attention to what I was saying. The fact that you carefully read through that post and provided me with this solution that I hadn’t heard before means so much to me. I will definitely make sure to check that out. It would explain pretty much all of the symptoms. And it doesn’t sound like it would be too overly expensive to fix.

I wouldn’t have thought it was the battery or starter/alternator. It sounded like something with the computer.

I was told that it was a fuse box under the hood, I replace the fuse box and everything worked, except for the car still wouldn’t start. So I just put the old one back in. The fuse box May well need to be replaced, but that’s not what’s causing the car to not start.

Figuring out why it won’t start is easier than why it stalls, so suggest to focus on that first. When you say it doesn’t start, do you mean it fails to crank … you don’t hear that rrr rrr rrr sound with the key in start? Or does it crank ok, but it won’t catch and run? The reason I ask is b/c the diagnosis depends very much on which failure mode it is.

Of course the first task for a problem like this is to check if there are any diagnostic codes stored by the engine computer. Has that been done?

BTW, this problem sounds like it may take quite some time for a shop to figure out. Might be best to seek alternative transportation , and planning to need it for a while.

It does crank it just doesn’t catch and run.

The crankshaft sensor is a very good idea to entertain, but you also complaint that some of electronics went dead in the same time, which this sensor would not explain.

Since this car is 11 years old, another thing to check would be in how reliable electrical contacts are in general, and in particular I would check if any of the “grounding straps” are corroded or even broken at this age.

I had no experience with Chevy in my DIY tenure, but I had similar “some of electronics goes dead” with a 10-years old Sentra I used to buy/own as my daughters first car, and I had to fix both corroded grounding connections and even one wire what rubbed against the chassis, resulting in an intermittent short and fuse blow, and since the wire was to the horn, it was indeed very intermittent in when the fuse would be blown :slight_smile:


That is very true, the other possible option if it is a crankshaft sensor is that the electronics are going dead and it just happened to be around the same time. This car is pretty much a piece of junk. But I can’t afford another one while I’m trying to keep this one on the road. I can’t afford not to keep this on the road if I want to work.

The next step then is to determine if the problem is no fuel, or no spark. To get a clue to which it is, you can either check for a visible spark at a spark plug during cranking, or spray starter spray into the air intake during cranking.

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@thegreendrag0n stole the words right out of my mouth. You mentioned portions of your dash acting wonky and those items were remedied by replacement of the fuse box…and then you went back to the original fuse box/panel?

If this is the case then this is the first order of business as there is no telling how this vehicle will behave, what codes will post or anything else IF it is possible that the fuse box is not powering up evertything that it should reliably and at all times. You will chase your Ar^%! until you are an old man with phantom symptoms, codes, weird issues…

Fix your power issue first and foremost.

The reason that I put the original fuse box back and it’s because the car wouldn’t start with the new one. I determined it was better to have a working car that had certain functions unavailable then to have a car that wouldn’t run it all.

Also I want to say the fuse box was a more recent development in my car acting up. In the beginning the car was throwing out no codes and everything worked.

Well perhaps the "new to you " fuse box was missing its starter relay? Or it had a bad one?

How is it behaving since doing the fuse box shuffle? Are things working better as if you fixed something? i.e. made and broke connections (cleaning them essentially)

I cannot stress enough how important that fuse panel is…it supplies everything with power other than the starter motor in your vehicle… Including non essential items like the main computer for your engine and ignition, ABS system, AC, Radio…God knows what else… like I said basically it supplies everything with juice except the starter on your engine. (Yes I was joking with my non essential items comment) I’m a silly guy what can I tell you?

Look into this electrocity supply issue…because you do have one… Do not ignore the Ground wires either…some people tend to think the grounds are optional and only the big red batt cable is important…they are nothing without each other, remember that.

Let us know how you make out with your electrons… We will help where we can