Car Shuts Off

I have had a problem with my 2009 Chevy Aveo since I purchased it last October 2010. Every once in a while the engine shuts off, not while I’m stopped, but usually after it’s been running for 2-3 minutes. It doesn’t happen more when it’s cold or hot, and not necessarily in the morning or after it’s been off for a long time.

It happens only once every few months, but when it does happen it’s downright dangerous. Today I was pulling into traffic turning right at a red light and it shut down. I was up to about 15 miles an hour still in the turn, and it feels just like the power steering stopped working. Because it’s happened before I knew what to do. If I throw it in to park and turn the key, the engine starts fine and it has never happened twice. In 15 months of owning the car it’s probably happened 8 times.

I’ve brought it into the dealership 4-5 times and they’ve never been able to replicate the issue. They replaced the spark plugs etc. but it always happened again a few months later. When I went in recently they told me it was the battery and it wasn’t covered under my warranty.

They also say because I didn’t mention it last time I went in, it must be a new problem. I just didn’t mention it because it happens rarely, and they can’t find what’s wrong, I don’t want to seem like a problem customer.

My clock is resetting now and it’s a different time every time I start the car so the battery may be an issue… but the engine has never had any trouble starting, not even a hesitation, and the radio stations haven’t ever reset.

Can the battery cause a running car to shut off completely, and if so does that mean it had a bad battery when I bought it there used? I can’t afford a new battery right now (well as long as it is still starting fine) and frankly I don’t believe that’s the problem.

Is this a computer issue in the car?

Can anyone explain what this may be?

The problem might be with a defective crankcase position sensor. If the computer loses the signal from this sensor, the computer thinks the engine is no longer rotating so it shuts the ignition and fuel system off and the engine dies out of nowhere.

The problem is, in order to determine if it is the crankshaft position sensor, the sensor has to fail while it’s being monitored for a signal. And since this stalling/dying problem occurs rarely it would hard to determine if the sensor is the problem.

If the engine cranks over normally after the engine stalls, there’s nothing wrong with the battery.


Thanks Tester… 3000 miles left on the warranty, 45,000 now, I might be pretty screwed. I just worry about oncoming traffic if this happens again.

Is the sensor an easy fix? I just might ask the dealership to replace it to see if it fixes it… and hope it does.

(good chance the warranty will be up when it happens again… though my instincts tell me at 48,001 miles it’ll start doing it daily… it has happened twice in the past month).

When the car shut off, what did the dash lights do? Did they stay on?

One more question, if this does start happening frequently enough for them to diagnose it when it’s out of warranty, is there a way to prove it wasn’t working properly beforehand and have it still covered?

RemcoW… I don’t think the dashboard lights go off, I’m mostly sure it’s just the engine… but I can’t say I’ve paid attention to that, I’m more focused on the cars coming towards me… sorry.

I ask because if the lights go off, it would be an indication that perhaps the ignition switch (or connection to it) is a possible cause. It would be like someone turned the key to the off position.

When it happens, does the check engine light come on and stay on?
If so, the computer has a record of that event and the dealer can read it,buying them a clue as to what is wrong. One would imagine they did that, unless they don’t want to fix your car until after it has passed warranty.
Any weirdness prior to it stalling, like hesitation?

It could unfortunately be a number of things. Any suggestion made would be a guess.

Tester is usually correct. You need to take it back to the dealer with that suggestion. If they can’t fix it, make sure you get a document saying the car was brought in for the stalling problem. As long as it was brought in before the warrenty expires, they will still need to honor the warrenty for that problem after the warrenty expires. You just have to make sure it is noted what the problem was and that it is still not corrected. Discuss it with the service manager.

the 4 or 5 times you’ve already taken it in should be documentation enough, but continue to complain about it, and maintain that documentation. If it’s happening to you, it’ll be happening to more than just you. At some point, it’ll either be recognized or a fix will be found, and all that documentation you’ve been tossing in your glovebox will be very handy.