My car gets excellent mileage

Why? Because it sits idle. I have a '98 Jetta who developed a problem of going dead unexpectedly. It may be my imagination, but this generally happened when turning at an intersection. As is with my luck this was always a great distance from home; the last 10 miles.

I’ve already had trouble starting after a rain and, upon researching learned about something called an ignition coil, whatever the hell that is. Coincidence?

Anyway, I know next to nothing about cars. Please, if you elect to respond please do so in a fashion I can understand. Local shops here will charge simply to diagnose the problem and I’d rather try to seem somewhat informed than a complete rube.

Please offer advice. The commute by bus is absolutely maddening and costs me money because I have to leave work early, drawing the ire of my boss.

Thanks in advance.

Answering a few questions could help whittle down the possibilities anyway.
What engine does the car have? It can make a difference.

When the engine dies during a turn does it restart or does the car have to be towed?

When the engine dies will it restart if the accelerator pedal is depressed?

Ignition problems sound like a good bet especially with an older Jetta. Unfortunately, no one here can be absolutely sure and it will cost money for some one who knows next to nothing about cars. The longer it sits, the harder it could be to fix. Bite the bullet.

Countless car owners know nothing about cars, that’s quite normal. That’s why manufacturers provide an owners manual so that you have information to guide you on when to take your car to a qualified shop for routine maintenance. Beyond that, about the only thing one must know is to regularly check the level of fluids including engine oil, transmission fluid, and coolant, make sure they are topped up. Too many people fail to check these regularly, and as a consequence, discover too late that have caused very expensive damage to their vehicle. Most engines, especially of the age of your Jetta, will consume oil, and need some added. Ideally you are checking oil every few weeks, or maybe every 500 miles or so.

That said, cars do require repair now and then, and a 1998 model is certainly a candidate. It’s a good idea to find a mechanic you trust and establish a business relationship just as you do with medical care providers. You bring your car regularly to the same shop for routine maintenance such as oil changes, brakes (which wear down), etc, and when something goes wrong, you rely on this shop to diagnose and fix the problem. If you have established such a relationship, you make an appointment to have them fix the problem and pay for their time to do so. The diagnosis is part of what you pay them for. In some situations, your regular shop may take a quick look at the car and be able to recognize your problem almost instantly so that they have some idea of when and how to schedule your repair appointment. Other problems, especially those involving engine operation, may require electronic testing and so you will be charged for the time required to diagnose the problem.

Your other option is to “shop around” with each maintenance and repair need you encounter with your car. Expecting a shop where you are not a regular customer to diagnosis your engine problem without charging you is unrealistic. If they spend time and use expensive equipment and tools to assess your issue, that’s a service for which you will be billed, just as with health care providers.

Very few people head to a mechanic knowing exactly what is wrong. The way you seem informed is to go in being able to clearly describe the problem, which you did quite well here. “My car dies suddenly while driving, seemingly in the middle of intersections”. Other info you can provide (both to your mechanic and us, if you have it):

  1. Has it ever happened at high speed, or is it mainly slow driving?
  2. Does it happen more often when the engine is cold, or after driving it for a while?
  3. Is the Check Engine Light on?
  4. What maintenance has been done on the car?

U r not getting high mileage, u r getting zero miles per gallon cuz u dont drive

The topic name of this thread is misleading and may cause some of the more experienced posters on this board to skip it (I almost did) because it sounds like one of those “run on water/boost MPG” scams.

U r not getting high mileage, u r getting zero miles per gallon cuz u dont drive

Yeah, but he’s burning zero gallons per mile as well!

The topic name of this thread is misleading and may cause some of the more experienced posters on this board to skip it (I almost did) because it sounds like one of those “run on water/boost MPG” scams.

Dang! And I was just getting ready to try the water-for-fuel gizmo after you guys went and criticized my endorsement of the cigarette-lighter-fuel-saver gadget. Sakes.
Yes, I was ridiculing that cig-lighter thing with its own published claim. Sorry if my sarcasm was too subtle.

More than once I’ve towed my car 50 miles to get it home. Ten miles is no big deal and diagnostic charges are legitimate these days and almost universal. The hard part is an intermittant problem that can’t be duplicated when its in the shop. So if it won’t start now or stalls often enough to be able to duplicate, you’re in luck and should be findable.

So his car is free too? He does not use it so he does not have to pay the loan or lease

CarTalk is one of my favorite sites and will continue to be that but you might also want to post your question on in their technical section. We VW owners are fortunate to have a good site that specializes in that brand.