Mysterious stalling--1994 Dodge Spirit

I have a 1994 Dodge Spirit, with 142k miles on it. Twice in recent months it has has unexplained stalling fits. In December, it would stall whenever I came to a stop. I took it into the shop, but they couldn’t replicate it and couldn’t find anything wrong. Yesterday, it stalled while I was driving, and would then immediately stall when I restarted the car. The shop managed to replicate the stalling once, but after a two hour inspection still couldn’t find out what was wrong; they checked the vacuums. Any suggestions?

Which engine is in it?

Does it always stall when your foot is all the way off of the gas pedal? I.e. only at closed throttle? If its at one of those times when it won’t stay running did you ever try giving it a little throttle?

Clean the throttle body.

Did The Mechanics Check To See If The Spirit Is Keeping Any Secrets From You ? Did They Scan The Car For Diagnostic Trouble Codes ? Why Not Try It Yourself ?

Teach Your Spirit To Do The Key Dance !
Being a 1994 (pre-1996), you don’t have a modern OBD 2 data socket, but your older style OBD (On Board Diagnostic system) was designed to record information when certain malfunctions occur. You might be able to access the information if there is any.

With the engine off, try turning the ignition key :

from “off” to the “on” position (not start),
then to “off”,
then to “on”,
then to "off,
and then to “on” (the third “on”) and leave it there. Don’t start the car.

Do this “key dance” within 5 seconds and get ready to count how many times the “Check engine” light blinks. It will send out a code or codes if it’s got any stored. The codes are 2 digit numbers that are blinked by the red light.

Blink, pause, blink, blink, pause . . . blink, blink, blink, pause, blink, blink, blink, would be two codes - code 12 and code 33. The codes may repeat after the first time through. You may have to try this over again to catch it. It takes a little practice. You will probably get a code 12 at the beginning and should get a code 55 “End of Message” at the end of the other codes.

See if you can do that and post the codes here and we’ll see if it helps with anything. The codes could look something like: 12, 11, 33, 55. There can be any number of them.
Is the “check engine” light on at this time?


I’ve owned a couple of Dodge Aires and (a couple of the best cars I’ve ever owned) and a Spirit (one of the best cars anybody has owned). Your symptoms sound a lot like a failed MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure) Sensor, but you can’t guess. It could be one of several different causes. It has to be diagnosed. If it’s a MAP sensor, it’s no big deal to replace.

These are more likely to fail in winter conditions (freeze / thaw) when moisture gets in the line between the manifold and the sensor.

I would suspect the Auto Shutdown Relay (ASD), that was the problem on my '90 Spirit when I had a similar random stalling events. Easy to replace, not terribly expensive.

I agree with CSA on the Spirit, I loved that car. It put a smile on my face everyday when I turned the key and it started.

Thanks everyone!

The Spirit has the V6 engine. In December, it only stalled while I was braking or coasting. The other day, however, it first stalled while my foot was on the gas pedal, then stalled after I gave it some throttle and then took my foot off, and then stalled immediately after I started it and before I could give it throttle. It’s now running fine, so I have no idea when it will stall again.

Re: diagnostic codes, the mechanic told me that they did hook the car up to the computer, but that they couldn’t find anything as it wouldn’t stall for them. I will try the key dance and see if I can get codes. The check engine light is not on.

Otherwise the Spirit is a great car, I love it. Another random issue is that the speedometer needle bounces when I drive over bumps in cold weather.

I did the key dance. The only codes that I got were 12 and 55. (Though the 12 may have been a 22, I don’t know when the first code is supposed to begin).

With nothing solid to go on I’d actually say that its worth it to follow barky2’s idea regarding the ASD relay. It wouldn’t be all that expensive so not too much lost if it didn’t help. It actually may have some twins that could just be swapped for a while from something no-too-essential just to see. Best to have your shop inspect the wiring for it first.