Chevy Engine Self-Disables

Two weeks ago, my '05 Malibu suddenly shut off as I started up from a light. I was low on gas and assumed that was the problem. I went straight to a gas station & filled up, and it seemed like everything was ok. However, twice in the last 3 days, it has happened again (with plenty of gas in the tank)–once going uphill on a highway and once rolling along at 30 mph on a city street. The engine and traction control lights come on and the message center says “Engine disabled” or “engine power reduced”. I tried driving slowly with “power reduced” but it immediately switched to “disabled” and shut off. So far, if I pull over, shut everything off, and wait for a minute, I can start it again and drive on with no problem.

My dad has an '04 Impala with a somewhat similar problem, but instead of shutting off, it won’t start. Nothing happens when you turn the key. If you wait about 20 minutes, it will often start and run fine. He had the engine computer replaced and it was great for a few months, but now the problem is back. He can often tell when it’s going to have an ‘episode’ because either the security or traction control message will come up. Is this the same issue my Malibu has? What issue does my Malibu have?

I don;t know but I had a 1998 Olds that was traction and abs confused all winter if I went even moderately fast on icy roads.I also drove Impalas, Surburbans and Chevy Van based school busses for 15 years and they all gave our mechanics fits with constant ABS, traction control and security passlock problems. The vans also had constant transmission solenoid problems.
I think it is in the GM DNA, at least for vehicles driven daily in high salt areas.

My first post didn’t take…will try again. I would drive along and the engine light would come on with reduced power indicated or the engine would wink out. Engine light, traction light went on.

I had a similar problem with my 2005 Malibu Maxx, 3.5L engine. Ultimately, it turned out to be the PCM module (computer). About a $900 fix thru the Chevy dealer. Have Chevy run your VIN number for a TSB fix. I learned some 2005 PCM production runs gave defective PCM modules.
Could be the crank sensor but probability is low. Check your fuse box…push down fuses and relays to assure everything is seated.

Do you have a code reader? I read the codes when my problems occurred. Various codes were reported at different times…a PCM error was among the codes. I think the chip defect generated differing codes. Chevy ran diagnostics which indicated PCM defect but also some other codes (which could have been erroneously generated by defective chip). Replaced PCM, ran diagnostics again and nothing showed up.

You can test the traction control by toggling it on and off while driving. If no difference detected, it is OK. If you detect a difference…it could be the problem.

Also, keep fuel tank at least 1/4 full. The fuel pump depends on being immersed in fuel for cooling. I had times when the car engine would not kick over until several tries…then finally when trying to start…it didn’t. another $900 job at an auto shop.

There are a number of service bulletins about “Fretting” of connections to the computers in this car. Basically it states, get the code reader and see what is failing, PCM BCM… and put dielectric grease on the connector after spring it with contact cleaner. This is to fix intermittent sensor or computer module problems.