Should I stay off the freeway?

Hello all. I have had a somewhat frightening issue with my vehicle (1995 Dodge Intrepid) the other night on my way home from school. Three seperate times on the freeway my car almost died. It slowed considerably to the point where I had to really slam hard on the gas to keep my car from coming to a complete stop. The drive home took about 30 minutes (usually I can cut the time by half but after the first near stop, I got into the slow lane for fear I’d have to pull onto the shoulder if my car died.

All of the three times, I heard a loud thud from the direction of my hood. The noise sounded like a an object landing hard on metal. The noise occured simoultaneous with my car slowing down.

While I know I need another vehicle FAST, until I can find one, for the next say, few weeks, should I hold off on driving the car all together? I need to drive my parents to the airport on Friday and my stepdad said as long as I stay in the slow lane, if my car were to suddenly die, I could pull to the shoulder and avoid an accident. My friends dad says he wants to drive it to see if he can detect what the cause is but that will have to wait at least a few days because he is pretty sick. My boyfriend has two cars, but since I do not know how to drive a stick, I cannot borrow one of them. He has to give me rides. So, in the meantime, I wonder if I can get by until I find a reliabe used car which brings me to my other question of how that is even possible since buying a used car is also buying somebody elses problems and if their are no problems, why sell your car?

Ok, now I am rambling again which I don’t mean to do but also seem to when I post questions because I do not know the technical names for a lot of these things, pretty green when it comes to cars.

It sounds like you should stay off ANY ROAD until your problem is investigated and resolved! When a car acts like that, you can cause significant damage by continuing to drive it. In that case whoever needs a ride should take a taxi, that’s what taxis are for. It’s noble of your friend to offer to drive it to get an opinion, but unless the friend is a mechanic, you still need the professional diagnosis of a qualified technician.

Please take your car to a good mechanic and explain in detail all the things you experienced. Since we don’t know what is wrong with your car or how much it will cost to fix it, I would not be in a hurry to buy another used car. Your problem may be relaitively easy to fix.

My wife drives a perfectly reliable 1994 car, and will likely do so for the next 4 years.

Sorry, I should have explained more about my vehicle. It has 230,000+ miles on it, has had new brakes, new tranny, starter, fuel pump, etc.). At this point, I really do not see getting it fixed since a new problem also crops up. The tranny was put in right before I bought the car so I didn’t pay full price. I know this things on its last legs.
I don’t know. People around me don’t seem to think it is a big deal, but what do they know? It is too late for my parents to order a taxi for the time they need to be at the airport so they need me to drive them but other than that, its only two days, beyond that their is no pressing issues. I just hate having to depend on other people for rides.
P.S. My friends dad is a retired mechanic, he has done pretty much all the maitenance and repairs in my car thus far. I know I wasn’t very specific with my initial post, please tell me what information you need. Thanx.

Driving on the freeway is a bad idea given the picture you painted with the car. Even if you avoid an accident, getting a tow off the freeway will cost something (unless you have AAA, or another auto club program) and being stuck on the shoulder of a freeway is dangerous period. If you drive it at all, stick to local roads. The only place you should drive, is to a trustworthy mechanic.

Was there any smell of gas? Those loud thuds are ominous signs. Without a good detailed review of how the car has been maintained and more precise symptoms the best I can offer is don’t drive the car at all. Either have it towed to a garage, or have someone follow you in another car in case you don’t make it to the garage.

If there is a gas smell under the hood, do not drive it, do not attempt to start it. I had an Intreped of the same vintage and a “fuel rail” split. Hot gas spilled all over the motor and it was a very dangerous incident.

See below,

If your parents can’t call a Taxi, or an Airport Limo service, have them rent a car from Enterprise, or another agency. If they have a car, drive their car.

You cannot trust your car to get you to the airport. The stress of possibly missing a flight will just make it that much more dramatic if the cars dies on you.

Or 2 days to learn the stick shift.

I’d agree with everyone here. Its almost impossible to say from a distance what is going on. But you might have a perfectly simple problem that can be fixed. If that is so, you could drive it before its fixed and turn a simple problem to a LARGE one, or get it fixed first.

And I just really have to throw this in here as well b/c I can’t resist and it drives me nuts. Multi-lane limited access highways (freeways) do not have a slow lane and a fast lane. They have a driving lane and a passing lane. The right lane is the road. Drive in it - I don’t care how fast or slow you are going - you belong in the right lane. If you need to pass someone on the road, you will then put on your turn signal to indicate a lane change, pull into the left lane, pass them, and then go back to the right lane when you are done. That is how these roads are designed to work. You are in the right lane unless you are passing someone (“passing” includes making space for traffic entering the highway). If you do it some other way, then you become a road hazard and screw up traffic. There are plenty out there who do.

Just for fun I am going to suggest an engine mount problem. Of course having your engine fall out on the free way is not fun, having it cause the accelerator to stick on high is even more dangerous. Don’t drive the car.

Thanx for the reponses, guys. I wish my own 'friggin family were as concerned as y’all. Funny how that works. Why would my stepdad tell me I should be fine? In the same conversation, he told me I need to look for a new vehicle because the one I have is unreliable.

Uncle Turbo,
No, no smell. Of course, I didn’t get out of the car until I was off the freeway (at home), a good ten minutes later but still…

He is probably well-meaning, but they should be able to get an airport limo/shuttle/taxi on relatively short notice to get them to the airport.

You need to focus on getting a quality diagnosis from a mechanic, to determine the cost of repair. After that, then you need to decide if the car is worth repairing.

In the meantime, consider renting a car for a week, which would solve the airport issue and keep you in wheels for a week. Depending on the local market, the cost might not be so bad. That should also give you enough time to get a good diagnosis.

I like Mr. Meehan’s theory that this could be a bad motor mount (or two), and I agree that the car absolutely should not be driven since this diagnosis has a very real chance of being correct.

Go to a trusty mechanic(sounds like someone has done lots of work) and get an estimate to fix especially given you are “green”.

Once you know the real picture decide move on or fix.

Buying a “reliable” car means spending at least $4000 typically and even then takes some luck and investigation including paying your trusty mechanic $50-$100 for checkover to at least narrow out glaring problems. Sadly on any car they still can be hidden.

Rusty, Has Any Warning Or “Check Engine” Light Come On Corresponding With The Thud Or Slow Down?

Is anything lit up, now?


As for your question about buying a used car, one important point is that you should have the car thoroughly checked over by a mechanic before you buy it. That won’t catch everything, of course, but lots of people post here with problems that would have been found if they had done that.

"Rusty, Has Any Warning Or “Check Engine” Light Come On Corresponding With The Thud Or Slow Down?

Is anything lit up, now?


I will echo this question. I don’t think bad motor mounts are the main problem. They wouldn’t cause the slowing down that is the main problem.

Here’s a WAG: You are suffering fuel starvation caused by a clogged fuel filter and/or failing fuel pump. The bang is a misfire caused by the engine running out of gas.

But it is very important to find out what trouble codes, if any are being stored by the engine control computer. Since your car is a 1995, you won’t be able to get them read at your local AutoZone; the code readers they use are for 1996 models and later. However, you can follow this procedure, taken from a website that specializes in Chrysler products:

"Be sure the engine is not running. Then do the ?Key Dance?. This means that within 5 seconds:

Turn the key to ?ON? (not start) and then ?OFF? repeatedly, in this order: ON-OFF-ON-OFF-ON.

Be sure to leave the key in the ?ON? position and watch the red ?Power Limited?, ?Check Engine? or ?Limited? light (we?ll refer to this as the ?Power Limited? light). One of the first diagnostic steps is to see if the light comes on at all. If it does not then you probably have a burned out bulb; replace it and start with the ?Key Dance? again. (If you?re a real beginner ? you will find the bulb specifications in the owner?s manual.)

Looking at the Power Limited light, count the flashes. These will come in sets of two flashes. For example if you count one flash then after a pause two more that?s a code 12. This will be followed by five flashes and a pause then five more. This is a code 55 or ?end of file?. Codes will always end in a code 55 and there will be no more flashes. This is the computer?s way of telling you that it?s all done. If the only code you receive is a 55 then you ?have no fault codes? and the computer has nothing to report.

Sometimes it takes a while to get used to reading the flashes, but remember that the delays are important, so watch for them ? but not too hard (there are no three-digit codes!) There are also no numbers higher than 7? you?ll never see more than seven flashes in a row."

Post back with any codes that come up.

NYB0, That’s Where I Was Going Next. Also, I Agree On Backfire.

My check engine light comes on intermittently all the time, it has ever since I bought the car three years ago. It is hard to recall whether the check engine light was on at the time this occured, I was mostly paying attention on not dieing, lol

I hate when I try to post a response and it doesn’t post, grr…
Anyways, I was going to say I have checked the codes a lot, mostly I come up with the same numbers. This morning, I got a 34 with my 33, the 34 I had for a while but than it went away. Thats with the 21, and the 66 I can’t get a read on cause ALLData only goes to 55 and I’v yet to come across a Hanynes for my particular year and model in the libraries. Mayby they have a website, do you know?